Living on Less
Since moving, and throughout my preparation to move, I have learned to live a completely different lifestyle: I like to call this forced minimalism.
As I prepared to move to Seattle for seven months, I had to go from my own room in a three-bedroom apartment to a shared room in a 3 bedroom house that had 8 other people living in it before I arrived.
The first big portion of my move was me downsizing on everything and heading back to live with my parents for a two week limbo before changing states. This was the easy downsize part: the bed, excess towels, plates, cups, blankets, shelves, desks - all the items someone would not need at their parent's home went away first. Next came smaller items. I wouldn't get to decorate the home I'm moving to, so, all the little treasures and excess art pieces, books and decorations went next. Then, came clothing. I take a lot of pride in how I present myself when it comes to manor of dress, so I had quite a collection... that had to go.
After moving back into my parents home, I had their guest room filled with everything I owned in the world - it seemed like very, very little. Yet, that was STILL way too much: I could only take two suitcases, a purse and my backpack with me to Seattle. Up to the morning I left for my new adventure, I was still weeding out things I didn't need anymore!
On May 13th, 2016, I arrived in Seattle with everything I owned in the world in my two hands and on my back.
Turns out, I'm REALLY okay with this forced lifestyle, in fact, it has made me examine things in my life more and now I want to continue living on less and being minimal. Crazy how getting things out of your life helps you to focus on new things, huh?
Somethings were easier to give up; like my car. I didn't need it as much here as I did in Texas. Transit here is a REAL WORKING THING in Seattle and I can take the bus almost anywhere I need to get. Other things were not as easy to give up: I had a hard time with wall art items, my art supplies and clothing pieces. You might know for yourself how easy it can be to mix up your personality with how you dress. I was there. I went down to a fourth of what I previously owned clothing-wise, and guess what, I'm probably going to get rid of a lot of what I brought to Seattle anyway. I've been here three months and in two different "seasons," (cold and not as cold) I don't wear all the items I own regularly, and it's wasting the tiny, tiny space I have.
Other aspects of my Forced minimalization include learning to live with less food. With NINE people living in one house, you can imagine how cramped space can be, especially in the kitchen. It's not that I've had to learn to eat less often, what I mean is that I cannot keep a million fruits and veggies in my fridge at all times. I don't carry tons of spare-snackish things around and I definitely don't spur of the moment buy things at the store. I can't! I literally don't have the place to put it! What I do is prep my meals for the week down to a science, buy only what I need and keep that on hand. The good news is that the local grocery store is as close to my house as my room is to the backyard, so if I ever decided I want to make something spur of the moment, I just walk to the store and get what I need with zero inconvenience. This is AWESOME when you have forgotten to buy a key ingredient and realize so in the middle of your cooking.
With my internship requirements, I cannot take on a full time job here, so I work 18 hours a week at my paid job. This, my friends, has given me extreme penny-pinching, thrifty skills. I live on so much less, it's kinda mind-blowing to me how "rich" I was back in Texas. Though, to NOBODIES standards in Texas was I "rolling in it," compared to my life now, I was doing REALLY GOOD.
I've had to cut out things like having meals out, getting coffee at a shop, grabbing drinks at a bar, going to paid art museums, ticketed shows and events... little costs like that. But, I'm not suffering because of it. Life just looks a little different for me than it did in Texas.
My reality right now? Turns out, I didn't and still don't need a million comforts to make me happy.
I have no idea if this extreme minimalism lifestyle is only possible due to the circumstances in which I live now - it's seriously FORCED. I can only make so much money in 18 hours a week, and I still have to pay rent here and still buy groceries (My rent here for my shared bedroom is higher than my rent for my master bedroom + bathroom at my apartment in Texas.). But, I am able to live this lifestyle because I truly believe that God has worked in me. I'm at a point where I can see and identify comfort idols in my life and get those out. I actually WANT to sacrifice more of my comfort.
Turns out, I'm more generous now, on the very little I own, than I was when I had a full-time-hours paycheck every two weeks.
Sometimes, the minimalist paycheck is nerve-wracking. I have the chance to go to San Fransisco for a work trip in September and to France in October, both of which I'll have to pay for. I'm already 100% committed to go on both trips (AKA my tickets for France are purchased), and I literally have no way to pay for them in my own power. I'm trusting that The Lord will provide for me to get to both places - and I am pretty excited to see how he pulls this off!
One thing I know: I'll never look at money, riches or comforts the same after this seven months. I've learned that even when I thought I was just squeaking by off my paychecks in Texas, it can get worse. But, my attitude can be one that is grateful for what I do have, and I can choose to be happy about my circumstances - which I COMPLETELY AM! I'm working hard at being faithful with the little I have, and even if I never get to a level of what I consider financial security, I WILL BE OKAY.
The Lord has shown Himself faithful to me thus far, I know he will continue to do so!