A few weeks back, on a chilly Friday evening, Chris and I drove down to Lakeside IKEA.
The roads were busy because a lorry had burst into flames on the M25, and it was dark and cold and miserable, but I was keen to a) sit on and sample some sofas b) buy a lot of plants and c) spend our Friday night doing something other than flicking through Netflix and speaking in cute-but-lame voices to the cats.
I was driving and Chris pulled his phone out of his pocket and plugged it into the cable that leads to the car’s audio system.
I thought he was going to make me listen to both of Ed Sheeran’s new singles on repeat (which I was pretty A-OK with), but instead he put on a podcast.
Y’see, my boyfriend’s become obsessed with two fellas known as The Minimalists.
You might have heard of them, you might not.
They have a book, they have a podcast, they write a blog, they have a documentary on Netflix (called Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things) and they generally crop up all over the place trying to promote and explain their way of living.
And there’s lots of it that I can get on board with. They believe that in a society obsessed with greed and material objects, we need to learn to live a fuller, greater life, with less.
On their blog they say: ‘For us, it all started with a lingering discontent. A few years ago, while approaching age 30, we had achieved everything that was supposed to make us happy: great six-figure jobs, luxury cars, oversized houses, and all the stuff to clutter every corner of our consumer-driven lifestyles.
‘And yet with all that stuff, we weren’t satisfied with our lives. We weren’t happy. There was a gaping void, and working 70–80 hours a week just to buy more stuff didn’t fill the void: it only brought more debt, stress, anxiety, fear, loneliness, guilt, overwhelm, and depression.’
I was mildly irked when he put on the podcast, mostly because I was driving and everyone knows it’s an unwritten rule of the road that the driver always gets to choose what they listen to.
But I also shouted something along the lines of ‘WHY ARE YOU MAKING ME LISTEN TO SOMETHING ABOUT NOT BUYING THINGS WHEN WE’RE ON THE WAY TO IKEA TO BUY THINGS?!’.
Y’see, The Minimalists sit uncomfortably with me.
Not because I don’t agree and believe in p. much everything they have to say, but because I’m scared to agree and believe in p. much everything they have to say.
I feel that to believe and to agree with their kind of lifestyle, goes against a lifestyle I spent an entire lifetime dreaming of. That it somehow nulls my dreams, makes them invalid, makes them wrong.
Because I wanted (or y’know, want) the big house. But I want the big house not to show off HEY LOOK HOW BIG MY HOUSE IS, I want a big house because I want to create a warm, open, caring, safe environment for my friends and family. A base that brings us together, helps create memories, a place with enough room to help people out in their moments of need.
I wanted a nice car. I wanted a nice sofa. I wanted nice clothes and nice equipment like a laptop and phone. I wanted the nice things in life.
And I fear that by wanting those things, that somehow that makes me bad, possession-obsessed, and blind to the world around me.
I want those things because I want to build myself a decent life. A life that makes every challenge up until now completely worth it. A life that makes every day easier than the last. A life that makes me comfortable. And a life that I can detach myself from, and look at as an outsider and say ‘yeah, things are pretty damn grand and I’m pretty damn lucky’.
I guess, deep down, I want to be able to prove to myself that I am more capable than anyone, myself included, gave me credit for.
That I am brilliant in my own right.
And I feel that to believe in The Minimalists as strongly as my boyfriend does, would mean stepping away from the things and the ideas that have helped give me momentum to keep living my best life.
And that involves this blog.
Because at the start of 2017 I made a conscious decision to focus more on fashion, because fashion has always been my greatest passion. I love clothes. I love clothes shopping. I love clothes window shopping. I love looking at new-in sections on websites. I love pulling something new on that just makes you feel like the most invincible version of yourself.
And yet, when I started uploading more fashion content than ever before I expected to receive more negative comments about my appearance because I was really putting myself out there, and instead, I’ve received something I never even considered.
This niggling feeling in the back of my head that says what I’m doing is wrong. That by sharing new clothes, favourite outfits and hauls, I am re-inforcing this idea that you need to spend money to feel good, to be good, to be amazing, to be happy.
And that’s not how I feel at all. The best things in life – the best moments and memories – come from experiences with people. To me, clothes are a hobby. They are a second, much lesser generator of happiness. But they do bring me happiness.
Putting together an outfit that makes me feel incredz is something that gives me a rush, the way I guess maybe scoring a goal or completing a knitted scarf might feel to others.
And so I guess this is a post about feeling conflicted. Feeling caught between the consumerism-obsessed industry in which most of us were brought up in, and the world outside of that.
And caught between wanting to feel like everything I’m doing is right, and wanting to make enough money to do and buy the things I’ve always dreamed of.
I suspect it’s all about finding the middle ground. Of accepting that I don’t need everything I lay eyes on, but also accepting that minimalism, as with everything in life, isn’t black or white, and it’s very much OK to live within the grey.