I recently had a friend say to me, “Your life is too perfect.” Like any other modest person, I started blurting out a ton of scenarios to tell the tale of why my life is hectic, lonely, boring, nerdy, and not so great. I quickly had to stop myself. WHAT am I talking about??? My life is pretty damn good, and it is that way because I make it that way. Why is it so easy for us humans to play the modesty card and find ways to point out all the negative crap? We should be climbing up on our roof tops every single day shouting about how glorious life is! So, of course, this topic got me thinking. (And thankfully I just so happen to have a blog to express my thoughts.) What are the events in your life that have made you the person you are right now? Why are you a negative Nancy or an optimistic octopus? What battles did you fight? What nasty habits did you have to break? Where did you take a wrong turn? Where did you succeed?
This week, I will be answering my own questions about myself. I’ll be exploring confessing what the heck happened in my life to make me who I am. First up; Confession of a Minimalist.
I have a confession to make. I used a straw when the Mr. and I ate lunch at a Mexican restaurant last Saturday. The waiter placed it in front of me and I just picked it up, tore off the paper, and put that thing right down in my water glass. You, the reader, probably have a crease in your forehead right now wondering why that was a problem for me. It was a problem, although it was really a non-problem, because I am a minimalist. I don’t use straws. It is a waste of resources and creates another piece of garbage in our already overflowing landfills. But it’s okay. I messed up. I’m not perfect. No big deal. No big deal because I stopped obsessing over every straw I used. Or every time I poured my leftover water from my drinking glass down the sink instead of using it to water the plants. (Yeah, I did that.) So this is the story of how I ditched perfection. Or became a minimalist. Take from it what you will.
Once upon a time, The Mr. and I lived in a beautiful, over priced, townhouse in Cary, North Carolina. We owned our own business, we had a lot of friends, we had nice stuff. We did things like go out for drinks and shop at Trader Joes and said hello to the other trendy people running around a flat, man-made lake as our outdoor recreation. Now don’t get me wrong. This life is just fine if you are truly happy. But The Mr. and I were not. We were closet hippies, always itching to get outside, and cheap. (That was before the term ‘minimalist’ had surfaced.) So on a whim, we pulled a John Muir, and left the perfectionism behind. Sort of.
Moving to the mountains was a great move for us. I felt like I had finally found my people. Jeans, tank tops, and flip-flops are okay here. Not wearing make-up is okay here. Spending an entire week in your car camping and hiking and not washing- your hair -is okay here. I don’t have to keep up with appearances. I don’t have to have a fancy job or wear fancy clothes. I don’t have to have money to fit in. I didn’t have to be perfect anymore! I have never felt so free and content with the non-perfect person that I am.
A few months ago, I happened to be browsing on Facebook and my eyes scanned across the term ‘minimalist.’ Intrigued, I clicked the page and I found a new obsession; living the environmentally savvy minimalist lifestyle. Yes! This is it. This is my label. This is how I can make a difference in the world. I began cleaning out my closet. I began cleaning out The Mr.’s closet. We sold our truck and became a one car family. I would strive to not let one single thing go to waste in our refrigerator. We stopped buying anything new and almost everything used. We reused, reduced, and recycled. The more I cycled into this minimalist lifestyle, the more fun it became and I would literally spend hours reading and studying minimalist blogs just wishing I could be as exciting and minimal as these people. Soon I began to hear this mean voice in my head scolding me for every little wasteful thing I did. How dare I forget that pork chop was in the back of the refrigerator and have to throw it out! How dare I throw away that rubber band that was around the celery? I can use that! I was driving myself crazy for not doing it perfect.
I’m not sure when the thought actually hit me. The ‘Heather, this is getting down right silly. You have turned into psycho, minimalist lady.’ thought. Sighhhhh. In my obsession to be the perfect minimalist, I was defeating the entire purpose of my lifestyle change. I had to stop this.
I look back now and laugh at how ridiculous I was there for a few months. I’ll just chalk it up to having to learn my mountain version lesson on perfectionism. I am now resuming my less obsessive minimalist life in our tiny two room house, filled only with items we need, where I sometimes use a paper napkin and leave the computer plugged in.
So I, Heather, do have a confession to make. I did use a straw at the restaurant last Saturday. But I am completely okay with it. However, I did stick the straw wrapper in my purse and put it in the recycling bin when I returned home. 🙂
(This post was originally published on our sticks or stones blog, which is no longer in publication.)