my minimal story

(note: i have intended to tell this narrative in writing for a long time with the intentions of further explaining why i write what i write. This account had to be written in frenzied outbursts and remains in long-form, not ideally, for the sake of the plot’s integrity. There are no experts in this story, and yet, everything remains as fact.)

In 2018, I experienced a life-changing paradigm shift.

I became a minimalist.

I began my search for the right college major as I approached high school graduation. I had always heard of the imperishability of a business degree and the high potential for someone to flourish in this field. Then I zeroed in on Accounting and Finance, the cash-cows of the business world.

*Median lifetime earnings (in millions) highlighting Accounting and Finance.

By the time I had researched the work details (a natural affinity for math helped with appeal) and metaphorically signed my soul away on the dotted line of the check I was preparing to work, blood, sweat and tears, for, I began planning my aspirations and five-year plan.

Then the waves came.

I was with a relative one week and was brought along to visit some of their colleagues. These people were very well off in the business world. Having recently decided to pursue the world these men inhabited, my proud relative was eager to display their kin’s pursuits. The successful enterprisers were eager to impress.

They grossly underestimated how little it would take to impress a fledgling entrepreneur, so by the third tale of multi-million dollar corporate hostile takeovers they had orchestrated, I was feeling overkill. My ambition to start the climb fell as these executives and managers (words here which mean, “he who executes” and “controller of man”… loosely) started to stifle my potential and, against my will, loft my plans to impossible heights of affluence.

Suffice it to say, I was confused after this meeting. Disenfranchised with the future I had been confident in, I wondered: what drives my ambition?

Money had never been an extreme motivator for me. I had always had it and intended to live an average life with it like I had grown up seeing. Business fit in my ring-house being a natural networker and big-picture viewer. The corporate ladder I planned to mount came into view. At its peak was a ceiling that I viewed as destructible given a big enough hammer. I wouldn’t stop climbing for anything. unchecked, I knew, I would push myself to achieve what I viewed as the “good life” and riches.

I realized in a moment, I did not want to be those men describing their corporate and personal lives in lavish detail. I did not want to be trapped by the captivation of promotions and corner offices. I broke down.

My entire life had been about winning with a capital ‘W’, and it would continue to be this way unless something changed.

Enter minimalism. I do not remember my first exposure to the community of minimalists across the country, but I remember the first time I heard the term itself.

Earlier in life, my mom pointed out something about myself that would go on to aid me in my pursuit of simplicity. When spring came one year, the project of “spring cleaning” became paramount in our home, as is tradition even to this day, and all my sisters, my dad and the dog were enlisted to serve. We were each assigned a list of things in our separate dwellings that needed to be considered for removal. Things like, old clothes, excess trophy’s and memorabilia, toys and books that we no longer used and any other spare items or knick-knacks that belonged at a thrift store or lawn sale.

As I departed to my side of the home, I began to comb through the closet, shelves and shadows beneath the bed. After about ten minutes, I had a few things to give away, but I still came away feeling less accomplished than my sisters who toted boxes of items to impart. Feeling dejected and full of disappointment, I returned to my supervisor with head hung low to my meager loot.

Seeing me forlorn, my mom responded in love. “It’s okay. You’re just a little bit of a minimalist” she said. I thought of percentages and proportions, as I was prone to do at times, and realized that I had actually found more to clean out per capita than my sisters because of the already small size of my belongings.

My foundation for this new lifestyle had already been laid as I was partly wired this way.* Part of my biggest struggle at the time was my love of business and the trap I saw in it. I wanted to be in the corporate world quite badly but had come to a crossroads in the life of my personal philosophical groundings. How I pursued my goals would be impacted by the habits and paradigms I incorporated into my life. I needed this change.

*This is not to say some are made for minimalism while others are not, it just shows my tendency to exhibit the minimalist characteristic of dispensing with “stuff” more readily.

Diving into the research, the lifestyle, the downsizing- I found solace for the first time in the ideas circulated. I was able to reconcile the warring lives within me by keeping my focus on the parts of my life that would matter for longer than ten years. As I pursue endeavors of success, I constantly have to be aware of how and why I got to where I am today.

Reminding myself what I’d be if I wasn’t who I am…

Some of the minimalist influencers and creatives early on who impacted my journey to this point: Matt D’Avella, TheMinimalists, Colin Wright, Joshua Becker.

I still am learning everyday what minimalism looks like as a complement to my faith and the views I have about life. A simple existence is not an easy pursuit these days and requires great intentionality, as I have found.

*Image sourced from the public domain.

Author: Ben Fridge

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