This year, or rather, these couple of months even, have been quite a rollercoaster on many levels. I’m not sure how to put it all into words, or if I even should. What I can say, though, it’s been a sort of soul searching, gut wrenching couple of months. Nothing serious has happened, I hasten to add, but let’s just say it’s been a period of wanting to get thoughts, dreams and goals to line up. And that’s probably been part of the problem.
Ever since I agreed to move away from my freelance career and into more stable routines and income in form of a full-time job, I’ve had this longing to get “all my ducks in a row”, as it were. Yeah, even I realize how cliché that sounds. Finally, I felt that many of society’s box tickers were in my reach, for the first time in forever. Maybe we could upgrade our 1 bedroom city apt to a 3 bedroom apt in the outskirts of town. Maybe we could buy that car and finally have that little getaway cabin we’d been dreaming of. Maybe I could finally get my driver’s license.
In other words, my life suddenly consisted of a whole lot of maybes. Dreams and goals that felt almost within reach, but not quite. And the desire to land them all as soon as possible, because then we’d be happy.
Wait a minute? Was it only by ticking these boxes that we’d reach happiness? In the midst of it all, it surely felt that way. And it became a restless and stressful kind of existence. Everyday life became colored with a root-less, kind of non-grounded feeling where even our home felt like a middle-station while waiting for the next life stage to follow. Meanwhile, I was also thriving in our current proximity to the city centre, where I have found a gym I love and also where my weekly guitar lessons take place. My mind was conflicted, to say the least.
Eventually, something came to bother me. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I wasn’t feeling like myself. I didn’t recognize the way in which I was moving in the world, and I felt miserable. Even if I used all my energy to suppress it, the faint scream I felt on the inside could not be ignored.
In retrospect, there’s no wonder I became miserable. Lack of rest due to a postponed summer holiday, work related stress, the constant striving towards hairy goals, topped off with an elimination diet that didn’t agree with me… I was playing a game I could not win.
After an emotional blowout, it dawned on me that all this striving towards “bigger and better” didn’t resonate with me. As a minimalist at heart, this yearning for more than I already had surely didn’t fit the bill. Not at all. You’d think a minimalist wouldn’t fall into such a trap, but hey, life happens to all of us – and every now and again we lose our way.
As I took a step back to evaluate, I found that this box ticking business was a major source for frustration. “Being happy with what you have”, was a mantra that again began to ring faintly in my head. Goals and dreams are important for growth and development, but they shouldn’t be such a focal point that they take away our attention for what’s important. In other words, the here and now. And I had seemingly lost track of that.
When looking at things from a different perspective, it seemed like I was only chasing these things because of societal norms. You can’t be an established adult couple living only in a 1-bedroom apt, you should have obtained your driver’s license by now and you should have a car to boot. Ok, so perhaps my life could be even more comfortable with ‘more’ – more space, more boxes ticked.
But honestly, I don’t want to evolve because of an idea that who I am now and what I have somehow aren’t enough. I want to evolve from a well considered decision that what I have now is ok but the next level suits me better and is within reach. And all else aside, I’m not sure I’m ready to change my accommodations if I cannot fully appreciate what I have at the present moment. Because, after all, what I have now is enough. And what I have been craving is just ‘extras’. Which in turn leads to extra responsibilities such as a higher mortgage, more maintenance et cetera. If I go there, I want to make sure that it is indeed my own decision and not a decision made from an unconscious desire to comply with the demands of a conformist society.
“You know what?”, I said to Chris, “We have a perfectly fine apartment with a comfortable mortgage. Tell me, why are we striving for all of this extra stuff?” He didn’t have a good answer. All he knew was that he probably weren’t ready to trade in our urban city living with a quieter suburban existence. I concurred wholeheartedly. The conclusion I reached was that we shouldn’t think about moving before we have maximized the living standard in the apartment we already own. If and when we get there, if we still have the needs and desire to move to something bigger then, fine.
So, yes, this is the current status quo. We’ve decided to stay where we are, for the foreseeable future, in our 54 square meter, 1-bedroom apartment, two adults and two house bunnies. Because we want to make the most of what we have and cherish were we’re at, at this exact moment in our lives. I want to focus on my work, my health, my guitar playing, my writing and my new-found love for working out – and I can do all of this the best right now by staying right here. And if ever our needs ever change, I want to see if they can be met right here, without needing to reach for something more, something bigger, something ‘better’.