The other day, when my friend came over to visit my hometown - we do have some big cathedrals in town, part of the World Cultural Heritage - and as we walked, we talked about some girls from school, who dressed and looked rich. Trying not to judge those and ourselves, she made a comparison between us, pointing to me, she said: well, you also own expensive stuff. You don't shop as much as I do, but the way you shop, people could easily also say that you have money. Whereas, I just love shopping a lot, but don't spend as much on single items as you do.
Five days later, this made me think of how my own shopping behavior has changed in the past few years. I dig it, I dig her. Totally understanding my friend because that's where I was coming from. I used to buy tons and tons of clothing, scarves, shoes, dresses, accessories, I loved the variety of my outfits, not neccessarily wearing every single item, I just enjoyed 'having' numerous items and choices. Yes, I was also known as the fleamarket girl, knowing how to bargain and find great handbags.
At some point, it was too much and I wanted change. With my 6-month no shopping challenge in the first half of 2014, I wanted to start reducing and consuming less. Back then, I was also inspired by Karen Kingstons book Clear your Clutter with FENG SHUI - yes, the life changing magic of tidying up existed before Kondo - and found myself reading a lot about a minimalistic life approach. The friend, actually my friend's mum, who sent the book to me and pushed me a little further, went through a life-changing transformation herself. It was motivating to see her changing her lifestyle in front of my face. One day, I visited her with friends and she had no dining table anymore, but cut off the table's legs and used the top part. We sat on the carpet and had dinner on the ground - which was a nice and warm experience (only experiencing this in Asian households, but finding this in a German one, was very refreshing). Time passed, the next time I visited her, the top of the dining table was gone and she minimalized all her belongings in two small, square-size Ikea boxes. WOW! We ate on the ground again, sitting on cushions with the bowls and plates in our hands. I really loved it. I was impressed. Not only did she reduce her belongings to a minimum, but she is also very selective in how she uses technology and media, sending and receiving only a specific amount of email and text messages.
I loved the whole concept, and while I was selling my stuff at flea markets and giving away clothes, I never wore or once loved, I was feeling lighter and lighter. I created more space again - for myself, and what I actually love doing. Instead of spending time on shopping and online shopping, I spent time and money on travelling, longboarding, climbing, cooking, and connecting deeper with friends.
It's a process and I feel really good about it. Now I only buy very few items. Yes, not having so much variety anymore, but enjoying the process of less is more. Now, I am looking at quality vs. quantity, I am looking for long-term joy and use instead of spontanuous rush of excitement - especially in fashion, trends come and go - stick to your classics. I am still trying to reduce my belongings, trying to give away and share my stuff with others, but when I need something, I do think about it a lot.
Example: I was looking for a new backpack a year ago, after many pro and contra thoughts, I decided to go for a Freitag bag. Why? I love the fact that they are made out of truck tarps. They call it recontextualizing, transforming those tarps into unique, functional and definitely pretty bags. Researching more, I liked their approach. Went into the store in my University town and PETE with this color way was it!