In university, I moved every year from dorm to apartment dorm, townhouse to Riverside house with a backyard, back to the townhouse and then to my parents’ before heading to Korea. Even in this country, I moved every year for three years to different apartments. Still, I haven’t quite perfected the art of moving.
In two weeks, Adam and I will be leaving Korea, but there is still so much to do. On top of packing, I have doctors appointments, errands, bank, passport photos, immunizations, and most of all, saying goodbyes to the wonderful souls I’ve befriended here. If you can see my apartment now, I have a lot of downsizing to do. Let me tell you, it hasn’t been the most entertaining part of being an expat.
We don’t have many belongings, but we do have furniture and bigger items that we are selling. Because I started Gwangju Freecycle and am a big advocate for sharing within the community, I am experiencing cognitive dissonance selling. However, I have to remind myself that it does take a lot of work to post items, communicate with (sometimes difficult) people, and arrange meetups which I would have to do even if I gave it for free. Once, I bike rode across town to sell a kettle for five bucks and he changed his mind when I got there because it was too small, even though I already told him how much it holds. Another time, I met up with a girl to give her a bunch of things for free and she was 30 minutes late. Recently, I carried a drawer in the heat of August to meet a girl and she changed her mind because it was too small even though I clearly gave dimensions. So, I don’t feel bad about selling anymore because my time is important.
I always had the problem of not being able to say “no” and being too nice and get pushed over as a result. Thankfully, Adam helps me recognize it so I am learning to stand up for myself. Still learning though.
I will be giving many useful items to the new replacement teacher if he wants them, but his apartment is not close to where mine is now. Otherwise, whatever is left will go to the Freecycle swap! Every time I go downtown, I’ve been dropping off a bag or two at the center and sort for an hour while I’m there; I’m helping organize this fourth event until I leave. I hope these swaps continue and people enjoy minimizing their belongings while new people can save the hassle of buying things they need to live here.
It is a goal to take something out of the apartment every time I leave. The material detox has been refreshing. Most of the thing we own are knick knacks – hundreds of letters from students, cards/letters/art we gifted each other, paperwork, little souvenirs. We’ll take pictures of some of them but are tossing most of them. Can’t get sentimental about every little thing.
I’ve been slowly adapting to the minimalist lifestyle for a few years now, but there are still some things I need to work on. For example, I have some clothes that I am not attached to. I know I won’t keep them forever since I’m leaving, so I don’t take the best care of them. One of these days, I want a small wardrobe of high quality clothes that I will take care of and wear over and over. This TED Talk about 10-item wardrobe inspired me.
Since getting a Kindle, the books on my bookshelf have been disappearing. While I still do like physical books, the efficiency of a Kindle cannot be beaten. I could carry thousands of hours of entertainment and information in the device which will save my brain during our upcoming long-term travels. My brain has adjusted to ebooks already, so I don’t mind reading on it anymore.
The minimalist movement is rampant now. The benefits are numerous, but to name a few:
- More mindful of your purchases. Instead of impulse buying, reflect on what purpose the object serves and if it will help you be happier in the long-term.
- Since you own less, you better take care of what you do own.
- Less likely to misplace things. I had three “junk drawers” and it took me a while to find something I needed, wasting precious time that I could be using doing something that makes me happy.
- Spending less money = less money you need to live = less money you have to make = less work you have to do for money = more time to pursue your passions without worrying about money. Work for XYZ company to make money to buy clothes you need for said company, a car and gas you need to commute to a job you dislike, a house that you won’t have time to be in, and fancy things to impress people you don’t like… No thank you. But if you enjoy your work, go for it. I know what it’s like to be consumed in work even though I wasn’t getting paid because I just loved it.
- Create. One day if I eventually can sit still and settle, I want to eat salads from the food I grew with all of the free time I have living in my simple abode and share it with the neighbors.
- Better for the environment. The stuff you buy takes resources and energy to produce, but most of it ends up collecting dust or easily broken and replaced. It’s better to buy something that lasts. I used to buy crappy reusable water bottles, but I finally invested in a Klean Kanteen (well, Adam got it for me as a gift a few weeks after I got one for him as a gift. So we kind of bought our own) that is healthier to use and won’t break easily like my last few (the Thermos one was great, but the plastic cracked after a year). I try very hard not to buy one-time plastic bottles unless I’m traveling in a country where it’s unsafe to drink the tap water.
This week has been full of decluttering and I feel light and relieved. I can’t even remember the bags and bags of stuff I donated to the event and papers I recycled. If I don’t remember it now, it obviously won’t affect me in the future. I don’t need any of it to be happy.
Here are some resources I recommend if you want to get involved in the minimalist movement:
r/minimalism on Reddit: Interesting discussions, inspiring photos
LightByCoco YouTube channel
Benefits of Minimalism: Found this after I wrote out my own benefits. They did a better job at actually keeping it… minimalist.
As I mentioned earlier, I still have to work on letting go, but the consumption has almost diminished. The next steps for me is to downsize digitally. I used to be a shutterfly, taking photos of the every little thing that doesn’t matter in the end. I need to delete and organize photos and files and clean my inbox. What a disaster!
Good luck to you and to me.
Live Light. Travel Light. Spread the Light. Be the Light.