On my way to work this week, I hit the highway at 5.30am. The world around me was ink-black and cars on the highway flashed bright lights like stars in my side mirrors. I was merging into the traffic and it was hard to tell how far away the cars and trucks zooming down the road were from me.
I’m cautious, but I have to get to 80km/hr to merge effectively. So that’s what I did and that’s when this semi-trailer suddenly appeared next to me and it was so close and I was running out of merging lane.
It scared me.
I realised I wasn’t going to be able out sprint this big semi-trailer in my little four cylinder Barina. I slammed on the breaks, ‘hitting the skids’ as the cliche goes and narrowly avoided flying off the side of the road and into a ditch.
I don’t blame the driver of the semi-trailer in any way for the scare I had. I just realised how dangerous it is (at times) for me to be merging into fast moving traffic when it’s ink-black and the car lights are an unknown distance away.
Anyway, the reason I tell you this little story is that it gave me pause.
A moment to reflect.
A moment to think about what if this, that or the other happened to me as a result of this encounter.
Am I fulfilled in life?
Am I happy?
Am I contributing enough?
This event was a catalyst, and I realised I want more in my life.
My thinking on this encounter lead me further contemplating, which lead to action which lead to YouTube where I came across minimalism. I watched a few videos and felt something deep inside shift. A door opened a crack and I peeked through and caught a glimpse of what my life could be like if I were to let go of things that were holding me tethered.
What if I let go of my out-dated beliefs? Who would I be then?
What if I paid off my debt and truly embraced financial freedom? How good would I feel about my day and what other choices would I have to follow my dreams to fruition?
What if I finally released my attachment to poverty thinking? How much more abundance would I notice on a daily basis?
What if I stopped filling all of my emotional voids with stuff and started to consume consciously? What would happen to my life when I did these things?
This contemplation lead me to realise that I am seeking a simple lifestyle. I want less busy-ness of my mind, less anxiety, less stress.
I realised I want a life where I have room for my values. I want to live in accordance with what my values are and be guided by them to make wise choices in my daily actions.
I realised I wanted to pull over on the super highway of Selina’s life and take stock of where my life was really at.
So I stopped.
I started looking around.
I started a re-set.
I started digging for my values and searching for what I think is meaningful.
So here I am, metaphorically sitting on the side of the Selina Super Highway, taking a breather and contemplating.
It’s wonderful and terribly uncomfortable at the same time. I say this because from the moment I felt the shift toward simplifying my life and lifestyle, I have had to ask deeper questions of myself. Questions that do not necessarily have easy or quick answers.
The truth is I have no answers. But I do have actions.
My first action and outward manifestation of the internal shift toward creating a simpler lifestyle for myself as been to take on a minimalism challenge for the month of May.
From the 1st to 31st May, I have committed to letting go of one thing from my life every single day. I’m on day 6 and I have let go of much more than one thing per day. I have culled stuff from any number of rooms in my house and from my desk at work and from my emails.
I have culled old emails that dated back to 2010, right up to 2016. A palpable weight lifted from my neck and shoulders on the day I hit delete on all those ‘just in case’ emails. I let go of something I didn’t even know was stressing me out.
I have also thrown out and donated things that no longer give me joy, are no longer purposeful in my life or do not add value to my life. Things like the clothes I’ve been hanging on to ‘just in case’ I lose enough weight to fit back into them.
What was I hanging on to these old clothes for?
Well, I’ve put on weight – one of the side effects of sitting down and writing more often (for me) has meant weight gain. Not a huge amount but enough that I expanded out of my clothes and felt uncomfortable in my own skin.
This lead to drawing a line in my life and treading a healthier lifestyle as I have made healthier daily choices and incorporated more exercise. But, I’m going to be honest here ( that’s a value for me – I like being honest) I don’t love being a slave to the gym any more. For years, I was a slave to the voice inside my head that flogged me to go to the gym and exercise until my head was ringing. It told me that if I didn’t go to the gym and exercise, I’d get fatter and be ugly.
Yes, I’m vain. I didn’t want to be over weight or ugly as my inner voice told me. I didn’t want to look in the mirror and see all the cellulite on my legs and back side. I didn’t care what the experts said about it being normal. I was chasing a dream of extreme fitness and I hated myself for the way I approached it.
I like exercise but I hate being a slave to it, and that’s the honest truth right there.
Despite putting on weight, I have hung on to clothes that I loved to wear when I was two sizes smaller than I currently am. And since the day I woke up and realised I’d gained wider hips and a fat roll around my middle that made it harder for me to breathe, I have dreamed about getting back into those smaller clothes.
Please don’t judge me harshly for my honesty here. I would never judge another person for their body shape but inside my mind, I had a cruel mistress who was never ever satisfied with how lean or fit I got.
Anyway, back then I went through a cycle of self-hatred, flog myself at the gym, eat lean, then binge, then get angry with myself, fall into depression, then whip shite out of myself for failing once again.
That cycle of self-loathing is a cost that I no longer want to pay. And keeping old clothes that I no longer fit into has been torturous.
It’s time to assess the true cost of the stuff in my life and I have started donating all the clothes I’d been berating myself over no longer fitting into. Letting them go has felt so freeing.
And I’m excited by the new, simpler lifestyle and style I am embracing.
I’ll let you know how this whole process of simplifying my life goes. I don’t think I’ll ever be a minimalist but I do enjoy applying the principles of minimalism to my stuff and to what I choose to consume in my life.
It’s nice to value people, relationships, my animal companions and all the things that bring me joy.
I’m finding joy in this phase of evaluating my life.