There was a time, believe it or not, when I strived to be one of those Beverly Hills housewife types. The blonde, Juicy Couture tracksuit wearing, small dog toting, cosmetic surgery flaunting women seen with jewelry and sunglasses and mimosas. This, to me, was the picture of success and desirability.
How would I do it? Get a high-paying job in marketing or something, straight out of college, and earn my way up the corporate ladder (I always pictured myself as a career-woman); or “marry a rich man and all our problems will be solved” as my college roommate suggested. One way or the other, it was my goal and I sure hoped it would happen.
Obviously, none of it happened. I was lucky enough to get a waitressing job straight out of college, let alone anything else. With my frugality strong from childhood, I navigated the world of eBay and did buy myself a used Juicy Couture jacket, and a few other “designer” items. It was a slow start but I didn’t lose hope.
I bought other clothes, too, for the fancy LA parties I would some day attend. I just bought them to have them on hand, really. You never know, and I wanted to be ready.
The Other dreams
To say I was living my life in delusion only covers half of it. I was spending the little money I earned on clothes for events I didn’t go to, because it was more comfortable to keep the vision of what I thought I wanted to be, rather than give up the vision in favor of practicality.
Eventually though, my vision changed. I stopped buying things that fit the socialite imagine, in favor of yoga pants and athleisure wear. The fact that I hardly ever practiced yoga wasn’t going to stop me from my new dream of becoming a yoga teacher. Yoga teachers were fit, chill, and likable. They seemed to have their lives balanced and to be happy and free. Sounded good to me.
Fast forward another year or two and I was reading Seth Godin books, following Tim Ferriss diets, and watching Noah Kagan conferences. I was destined to be an entrepreneur. With minimal business-sense and a deplorable work ethic, this was sure to finally be my thing.
I needed a “thing”, right?
Needless to say, after spending the majority of my 20s hopping from one persona to the next, I was left feeling like quite a failure. But I still didn’t have my thing, or know what I wanted to be.
I was also single, at a time when my entire social circle was married with children or at least well on their way. I was feeling the most depressed I had ever felt, and finally, although I hated the idea of being a quitter yet again, I quit my office job, with no backup plan. I just needed a break from it all.
With everything fallen apart, this was the first time I started asking myself what I actually wanted for my life.
I wrote up a mental list of things I thought would bring me happiness, and for the first time ever I did not factor in how much a job would pay, what others would think of me, or what the long term career potential could be. I simply thought about the now.
I decided I wanted to work outside, not at a desk; and to do work that directly helped my community so I felt purposeful. I wanted to throw away my career-woman wardrobe (it was so stuffy and uncomfortable!) and to stop playing some part in order to fit in with a job. I wanted to reel everything back in and strip everything to the absolute basics, so that all that was left was my authentic self.
And that’s where I started building from.
Minimalism + Simple Living
Around this time my book club read Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and my life literally did change. My stress from living in a cluttered space had reached a boiling point and I finally pieced it together that the affect of clutter is real. Once that set in, I was on the fast track to minimalism. I started with my wardrobe and ruthlessly donated pieces I disliked or didn’t regularly wear.
I delved into the topic online and discovered the term simple living. All at once I felt understood. This term put into words the lifestyle I truly desired at my most fundamental level — not what someone else desired for me. The freedom I felt from giving myself a chance to speak up and say what it desired was new to me. Finally I had something that felt true.
I guess you could say I was always a minimalist at heart — but I was living inauthentically. You could say I always got stressed by clutter — but it took me years to realize it. You could say I always longed for a simple lifestyle — but I let society lead me in a different direction.
Sometimes it can take decades to give your true self a voice. What is yours waiting to say? (tweet that)