Moving to New Zealand has changed a whole bunch of things in my life, one of them being the relationship I have with my possessions. Life in the Southern Hemisphere is very different from my previous life in London. One of the biggest differences is the impression I constantly have that time has stretched. This is partly due to the fact that I don’t have a job, but at the same time it’s also true that life is so much slower here, which makes me think it’s ok for me to literally take my time - do things at my own pace, don’t rush, and take it easy.
In the past months, I’ve had a lot of time to think. This is not necessarily a good thing, however - if I manage to not let my stress and anxiety creep up and overwhelm my poor synapses – it also means that I can do a lot of research on things I’m passionate about and reflect on my actions and the impact they have on my surroundings and on my own life.
I’ve obviously been very much into the whole Zero Waste thing, minimalism, and downsizing my material possessions. One thing I’ve learned is that the whole point of simple living is finding what’s important to you. Simple living for me doesn’t mean to only own two pieces of clothing and a pair of chopsticks. Minimalism and downsizing don’t have to be synonyms with depriving yourself of anything. To me, it makes sense to get rid of anything that doesn’t bring me joy or that doesn’t serve me. If it’s something that I feel it weights me down or it stresses me out, I’ll get rid of it. But at the same time I’m also incorporating more things into my life, I’m purchasing things that I believe will make my life better and me happier.
My goal is to only own things that I love and that are functional to my lifestyle.
Since we moved into our apartment about four months ago, I’ve been into my wardrobe at least once a week if not more, staring at all my clothes and trying to decide what I wanted to keep and what I wanted to chuck. I have been chucking (by which I mean, donating) at least a third of my clothes. (This is a lot, considering I had already downsized quite a bit before moving to New Zealand altogether.) What I donated were things that I never wore, that didn’t fit me, or that I didn’t like. What is still in my wardrobe are things I love, things I wear all the time, and things I’m emotionally attached to (which I’m ok to keep, by the way).
However, the other day I went shopping for some clothes. I can’t remember the last time I went shopping for clothes. I’ve never particularly liked going shopping, which is proved by the fact that a good part of my clothes I’ve had since I was in high school (yeah, they still fit). But this time I went because I realised that after my wardrobe cleanout I was left with mismatching clothes and I was missing some good quality, durable staples. For example, I’m all set for summer weather (which is ironic, considering I haven’t been living in a place where summer is a thing for the past five years), but I’m very unprepared for winter (which is double ironic, for the same exact reason). So I set off to go get myself some warm fluffy jumpers.
Now. This shopping experience was nothing like I’d ever thought a shopping experience could be like.
I’ve never been so conscious about what I was gonna buy. There are two reasons for this. The first one is that I recently watched The True Cost (you can read my thoughts about it here) and I’ve decided I’m never ever going to buy anything that comes from unethical and unsustainable suppliers. The second reason is more subtle and complicated. Since about June last year, I’ve had to be very VERY careful about all my expenses. I’ve always been quite penny-pinching, but travelling and being jobless really takes stinginess to the next level. Obviously not having money to spare completely changes your perspective on the things you can afford to buy. Plus living off the same two outfits for four months makes you realise that yes it is boring as hell, but you really don’t need that many clothes or that many things in general, for that matter. Since I moved to New Zealand, my attention has shifted from what I want, to what I need. So much so that even when I finally had some money to spare and I could finally afford to go shopping, I realised I wasn’t feeling that thrill of buying things that I was expected I’d get after months and months of restriction.
I made a mental note of the shops I wanted to visit (all second-hand, independent retailers or shops that sell sustainable brands). Then I established my priorities: I would only buy things that are functional, multipurpose, good quality, and that I really liked. Finally, I set myself a budget. With all these goals in mind, I set off for the most successful shopping trip of my life. I didn’t find everything I wanted (I’m still on the hunt for a pair of black jeans and some good winter jumpers, which is going to be tricky considering it’s summer in New Zealand), but I’m so glad I managed to only shop in second-hand stores, I stayed well within my budget, and I’m absolutely in love with everything I got.
Ideally I want to get to a point where all I have, I love.
I am so excited and amazed by all the changes I'm making in my life, for the better. I love the fact that I have so much time to do research and understand what's becoming more and more important to me. I'm learning new values setting myself new priorities. And I'm very proud of the person I'm becoming.