Minimalism

Confidence + Minimalism (Find the Courage to Chase Your Dreams)

March 25, 2016

I’ll be 35 in a few months and I’m unemployed and homeless.

Last year, I gave up my full time job and my apartment to travel the world. And when I return to Australia later this year, I have no intention of pursuing a career or a permanent address. Instead, I plan to buy a van, do odd jobs, and travel around Australia.

This is my dream and I’m thrilled with my choice, but a few years ago I would have struggled to admit this to anyone.

Why?

Because it goes against the status quo. At my age I should be buying a house, getting promoted, or having a baby – or I should at least want to. Admitting that I don’t (at least for now) is scary because I know a lot of people will judge me.

I’ve been called indulgent, privileged, and irresponsible.

I’ll admit that I’m privileged (in the big scheme of the world) but I don’t think there is anything indulgent about doing what makes you happy. (More people should try it.)

And irresponsible? Well, let’s just say you never know what goes on behind the scenes and I’ll wager that I’m more prepared for the future than many other people my age.

But I digress. I’m sharing my dreams with you today because I now have the confidence to own who I am.

Confidence, or a lack of it, is what keeps so many people from chasing their dreams.

It’s the missing link, the final piece of the puzzle, that we all need to finally take that leap and do what our hearts are urging us to do.

And I found a giant does of confidence in a surprising place – minimalism.

What is keeping you from chasing your dreams and creating a life you love? My guess is that confidence, or a lack of it, plays a part. If you could use some extra confidence try looking in a surprising place - minimalism!

CONSUMERISM IS A MASK

Every time you make a purchase, you’re making a statement about who you are (whether it’s intentional or not.)

  • If you buy an expensive handbag, you’re telling the world that you’re wealthy and successful.
  • If you buy a popular brand of yoga pants, you’re telling the world that you’re healthy and a yogi.
  • If you buy souvenirs overseas, you’re telling the world you’re well travelled.

(Obviously, the statement you make is subjective, but you get the idea.)

Because of this, we often turn to shopping when we feel insecure.

When I used to feel bad about my weight or my body, I would always buy stilettos – because the towering heels made me feel sexy. Or when I didn’t feel successful enough at work, I’d buy something expensive just to show I could afford it.

Often I wasn’t even worried about what other people were thinking; instead I was trying to prove something to myself.

But really, all I was doing was hiding. My purchases were a mask that kept me from facing my body issues and self doubt.

When I embraced minimalism I no longer had a place to hide, and had no choice but to face my insecurities head on (which led to self acceptance and confidence.)

RELATED POST How I Became a Minimalist: Why I Choose to Live With Less

DECLUTTERING IS ACCEPTING WHO YOU REALLY ARE

If consumerism is a mask, then decluttering is accepting who you really are.

When I downsized my life, I recall being really surprised by the powerful emotions I felt while saying goodbye to my stuff. I’ve spent hours agonising over donating a single dress!

Why all the drama? Why was it so difficult to toss and move on?

Because saying goodbye to my minidresses meant acknowledging I don’t go to nightclubs anymore; selling my blender meant accepting I was not the smoothie drinking green goddess I wanted to be; and donating my sewing machine meant I was never going to design my own wardrobe (much less finish the blouse that I’d been working on for years…)

You get the picture.

When you let go of things you’re saying goodbye to the person you want to be and accepting who you really are.

You also let go of a lot of negative feelings about yourself. I felt a lot of guilt and shame because I wasn’t living up to the lifestyle my stuff was promising; my unworn party dresses would taunt me from my closet when I stayed home on a Saturday night. And my sewing machine? Well – she was nasty.

So when I said goodbye, it was liberating. I started to see all the good things about myself, instead of focusing on my perceived ‘failures’ – another big check in the self confidence box.

RELATED POST 15 Things to Declutter (That Aren’t Things!): Ideas + Mindsets to Let Go

BECOMING A MINIMALIST IS A CHALLENGE

Finally, becoming a minimalist gave me confidence because it’s not easy.

Unlearning a lifetime of habits, going against what is ‘normal’ and saying goodbye to your stuff is a challenge and it takes strength and commitment. It’s an accomplishment – like running a marathon or writing a novel and something to be proud of.

When I look back on how far I’ve come, when I remember my overflowing closet (I had over 100 pairs of shoes) and my maxed out credit cards, and then I look at my life now – and I’m blown away.

A few years ago I never, ever would have thought this was possible. But here I am and the pride I feel at having come so far has given me a confidence boost like I never imagined.

Becoming a minimalist is one of the most important things I’ve ever done and it has 100%, hands down, enabled me to chase my dreams and build a life I truly love.

If you’re considering minimalism I strongly encourage you to take the plunge. it might just be the missing link you need to start chasing your dreams.

RELATED POST Struggling with Minimalism? 6 Tips to Help You Make Sustainable Change

Have you ever hid behind your purchases? Or shopped for your ideal life (instead of your real life?) And has becoming a minimalist helped your self confidence? Let me know in the comments – I’d love know I’m not alone! x

photo credit : Mariana Campmany // Used with permission

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  • I definitely shopped for my ideal life years back! I love how you gave examples of how we let our things define ourselves (blender = green goddess, etc) as it made the idea you’re sharing here clear to the rest of us. Excited to get into minimalism myself, & you’re exciting me even more. Thanks for sharing, Jennifer!

    • Hi Daisy – Thanks so much for your feedback! And I’m excited for your minimalist journey too – can’t wait to hear all about it. xx

  • Guess what, I too am going to turn 35 in a couple of months! It sounds like you’re feeling really really good about where you are at at this point in your life, which is awesome. I wish I could say the same for myself. I do feel good that I’ve managed to get out of grad school and start paying down my student debt, but I do tend to get caught up in wondering why I haven’t reached some of the other milestones that you mention, that 35-year-olds are “supposed” to have reached. And I’m not sure what the answer is. But I’m trying to focus on things I feel good about rather than comparing myself to other people. It’s kind of an ongoing struggle.

    • It’s tough – isn’t it? I do feel good about where I am but it has been a long road and I’d be lying if I said I don’t still have occasional moments of self doubt. One thing that helps me a lot when I get caught up in comparisons is asking myself if I even want what the other person has? Just because someone else has achieved something that I haven’t, doesn’t mean I’d want to give up my life for theirs. It’s about trying to figure out what matters most to you … an ongoing process as well. And I also remember that EVERYONE feels this way sometimes, no matter how ‘accomplished’ you are. Big hugs Sarah xx

  • I found this post to be really insightful. Our family did a minimalist decluttering challenge in February, but I know there’s so much more that we can do.

  • I can SO relate to this right now, Jennifer. I think what you’re doing is so inspiring. Confidence is definitely key in following our dreams and living the lifestyle that we know works for us, despite what society says. I loved how you made the connection between consumerism and identity, and how we may feel insecure and that may lead to over-purchasing. Minimalism is awesome because it almost forces us to think about the person we want to be and what we want to fill our lives with. Thank you for writing this post! It has inspired me to think deeper about what I what my next steps in life to be!

    • “Minimalism is awesome because it almost forces us to think about the person we want to be and what we want to fill our lives with.” YES! I think consumerism definitely encourages us to do what is ‘expected’ of us, so when you embrace minimalism there is so much freedom. It’s like having a blank canvas and suddenly you can create whatever sort of life you want for yourself. It’s so powerful! Thank so much for your comment (and your kind words xx)

  • I love every single bit of this. I went through a similar transformation with regard to most “stuff” I used to buy, in my case to make our home look perfect, which I thought said certain things about me. The thing we’re struggling with now is not stuff for the sake of stuff, but stuff that lets us DO other stuff — like a better backpack for travel, or a more comfortable chair for camping. We definitely feel less materialistic than we used to be, but we still fall for that marketing! Always a process, right? ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thanks so much for your kind words! I think stuff that lets you DO other stuff is always good (as long as you’re actually DOING things.) Minimalism is not about being uncomfortable! And haha – yep, definitely a work in progress ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Micha

    I love this. Thank you so much for writing it! I’m totally quoting you on “CONSUMERISM IS A MASK Every time you make a purchase, youโ€™re making a statement about who you are (whether itโ€™s intentional or not.)”

    It almost hurts how bold and straight forward that statement is. I do shop when I’m insecure. Even if it’s an insecurity with my body, it’ll be buying home goods- candle holders, pillows, and junk. Our shopping isn’t even directly related to what’s bothersome to us, it’s just a huge, debilitating distraction.

    And I have found every time I widdle down my clothing, personal care routine, my decorations or when I refuse something at the store that I thought looked really cute, I am reinforcing my new found love of myself.

    It’s awesome to see that you are pretty much living how I want to live. Unfortunately, my boyfriend isn’t so convinced on this lifestyle change, but he is widdling down little by little.

    If anything, you are super successful in the eyes of all us dreamers with undying wanderlust. I need to see more people who struggle or have struggled with the same things I am. Everyone is always putting up a mask of perfection to me, and I really needed to see that I’m not the only person struggling. Thank you!

    • Oh Micha – thank you so much for sharing so much of your story. โค๏ธ I can definitely relate to everything!!

      And thank you so much for you kind words, I’m seriously blown away. Stay true to yourself xx

  • Ellie Taylor

    I love this. In my experience, owning up to pursuing your dreams or living an unconventional lifestyle is only met with insults and accusations by the people who hate their lives the most. Excellent post.

    • Thanks so much Ellie! And yes – I’ve definitely noticed this! (Especially with minimalism. Whenever I see a article in mainstream media there is so much backlash in the comments!) I think there is a lot of fear ๐Ÿ™

  • Jennifer, thank you for your honesty! I remember my client service days – spending good 30 minutes every night Monday through Friday picking out a tie that matches the pocket square that matches the shirt that matches the suit. Time wasted. Now I choose life! I’m so glad that I can come along on your journey through Simply + Fiercely :]

    • Hi Alex! Thanks for sharing your story … I can definitely relate to wasting a so much time obsessing over what to wear! Thanks so much for stopping by โ˜บ๏ธ

  • I absolutely love your story, it is so inspiring. As a proclaimed minimalist, myself, it reinforces to me that one can truly do what you want and be happy with the life you live! I aspire to be like you!

  • Seeing that you had 100 pairs of shoes is pretty inspiring from where I’m sitting, because in comparison I’m already a minimalist ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’ve got the minimalist thing pretty down pat when it comes to *acquisition* of stuff, but I’m struggling to get rid of things I already have. It helps immensely to read this and realise that it’s normal to have these kinds of feelings when letting go of excess stuff.

    My husband and I are hoping to move to my home country (Canada!) soon, so we’ve got a time limit for our decluttering journey, because we’re flat out refusing to ship or pay to store anything we don’t 100% know we want to keep.

    • Hey Nicola! Oops – sorry I missed your comment. And haha, yep – next to my 100 pairs of shoes most people are minimalists! But I joke with friends who have known me a long time – if I can become a minimalist, anyone can!

      I definitely agree that letting go is tougher. I think it’s because once we own things the emotional attachment is stronger? But good luck with your move and I’m sure that will be the boost you need. I made a big cross country move a few years back and it was definitely the case for me. Cheers! Jen

      • I think you’re right about being more attached to things we own. It’s also easier to come up with reasons to hold onto something (because “it might be useful”) than to buy something (because it costs money).

        But the cost of transatlantic shipping definitely helps balance those scales!

  • Minimalism & Nonduality

    Beautiful, honest words, woman! ๐Ÿ™‚ Especially I can relate to the part about saying goodbye to the image that you WANTED and accepting your real image. When I looked at the empty walls in my minimalist home I thought: the empty wall does not need any form of optimizing! It is perfect by itself. So am I! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Ah – that’s such a beautiful way to expressing things! Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom with us! xo Jen

  • april

    I know this post is almost a year old, but everything about it really resonated with me. I JUST wrote in my journal today for the first time in a million years and what I wrote was that I felt my impulse shopping came from insecurity. So then finding your blog and reading a bunch of your posts, including this one, really helped me start to think about if minimalism could work for me. But being an all or nothing sort of person, I’m ready to just dive in and I feel like that’s just feeding into the impulsive side of me that loves shopping (and the insecure side of me that believes if I become a minimalist, that will make me a better/smarter/happier/insert adjective here person – NOT what I’m going for here). So my goal is to just continue writing in my journal and sort out who I really am and what I really want (answering the questions you posed in your post about practicing self care through journaling).
    In one of your posts that I can’t find at the moment, you mentioned fear holding you back from blogging (I think it was you – I apologize if I’m mistaken). I feel this way. I’d like to start blogging, but a lot of what “they” say is that you need to be an expert in something – what can your audience learn from you? I feel like the things I’m interested aren’t things I’m expert at – far from it. Any suggestions on how to get started?

    • HI April – thanks for stopping by! And I love that you’re using your journal to work out your feelings!! I’m also an all or nothing person so I completely understand the impulse but taking time to really work out your motivation, etc, is definitely what minimalism is about for me (as opposed to just decluttering!).

      About blogging – I honestly don’t feel like I’ve ever been able to write from the point of view as an expert. I try every once in a while but I think my readers see through it and don’t respond as well when I do. Instead, I think people want to connect with other people who are still in the process of figuring things out.

      For most of my posts, I write about whatever I’m dealing with at the moment. Even though I’m giving advice, it’s usually the advice I need to give myself (if that makes sense!). So my best advice for you is to write about what you’re going through and what is working for you (although give yourself some time to edit your work. With this method, my first draft is usually pretty raw!).

      I hope this helps! Thanks for stopping by and good luck with everything!! ๐Ÿ™‚ xx Jen

  • I can’t even tell you how much this resonates with me! I used to buy my lifestyle (or the one I thought I was ‘supposed’ to have) and it took a lot of work to undo those mental habits. I’ve now downsized my belongings by 75% and this has led me to want a career free, adventure filled life. It is definitely hard for some people to wrap their minds around, but you can’t make people understand your decisions. You just have to live your life!

    • Hey Brittany! Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your story – I’m always glad to hear that I’m not the only one who has made mistakes. But it’s awesome to hear that you’re living an adventure filled life now! Awesome work!! xx Jen