How Needing Less Has Empowered Me

How Needing Less Has Empowered Me

I want to be at peace with myself, knowing that I can search inwardly for comfort and happiness.
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The gradual realization of how little I need to sustain myself has given me more joy than any one item I have purchased. It’s beautiful to be able to wander, feeling strong and sustainable. I traveled to India for two weeks and only brought two shirts to rotate between. Some people might consider that extreme, but traveling with nothing more than a day pack empowered me to explore places that I wouldn't have been able to venture with a large pack.

I’ve spent many years of my life acquiring and emotionally attaching to all sorts of sentimental possessions. From the dresser I built myself to the shirt that I wore backpacking Zion, each item in my room has some type of meaning to me. That’s why letting go of things can be a taxing experience. When going through my clothes, I find myself stressing out even though it’s theoretically a simple task. What has made getting-rid-of-clothes challenging is that I care about my clothes, and that challenge has reminded me to stop investing into material things. I want to be sure that I’m loving people more than I’m loving things. I want to be at peace with myself and know that I can search inwardly for comfort and happiness. I want to be able to move in just one car trip.

I love the practice of feeling the weight of each item during a backpacking trip. When I want to bring something with me, I have to discern with questions like, “Is this worth the extra strain that it's weight will bring over the journey?”. I when on a backpacking trip with some friends in the Trinity Alps and although I had brought the smallest and lightest pack of everyone I was with, I was able to cook dinner for us all, and even carried the tent we all shared on my pack. My only other personal belongings consisted of the clothes I was wearing and a sleeping bag. I loved how efficient I felt that trip!

Having less has empowered me to halt consumerist tendencies and build savings. Now when I look at clothes or other items I may be drawn to, I step away not because they are too expensive, but because my goal is to have less possessions. I value being light weight. Having more stuff becomes more weight to move any time I consider re-rooting in a new location. If you really embody the concept of not making purchases, then it's easy to get ahead. You just need to live a bit below your means. Live less comfortably, so that you can have the power and time to make your life exactly what you want it to be. Money is power, and money also is time. If I can live on $4 a day, I could backpack through the world for a year and spend $1,460. This price is not including any flight or other travel costs, and would be much more challenging to maintain in Europe versus India. But none the less, it's a number that's tangible. Even someone who works a minimum wage job full time- that's less than a months paycheck!

Letting go of material things has been the first step of pursuing the ones that truly matter. I want ideas and experiences to define who I am, not material possessions. I want my idea of “treating myself” to be an act that truly stimulates my mind and personal journey, rather than a temporary and outward satisfaction. Minimalism has empowered me to dream of such a great life. Time is the most valuable thing I have. I want to be able to coat this short life in as much color as possible. I feel like I could go anywhere in the world and be okay with close to nothing. I dream of just disappearing for a year and fully giving in the urge to explore.

Cover Image Credit: Raleigh LaCombe

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3 Reasons Why Step Dads Are Super Dads

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I often hear a lot of people complaining about their step-parents and wondering why they think that they have any authority over them. Although I know that everyone has different situations, I will be the first to admit that I am beyond blessed to have a step dad. Yep, I said it. My life wouldn't be the same that it is not without him in it. Let me tell you why I think step dads are the greatest things since sliced bread.

1. They will do anything for you, literally.

My stepdad has done any and every thing for me. From when I was little until now. He was and still is my go-to. If I was hungry, he would get me food. If something was broken, he would fix it. If I wanted something, he would normally always find a way to get it. He didn't spoil me (just sometimes), but he would make sure that I was always taken care of.

SEE ALSO: The Thank You That Step-Parents Deserve

2. Life lessons.

Yup, the tough one. My stepdad has taught me things that I would have never figured out on my own. He has stood beside me through every mistake. He has been there to pick me up when I am down. My stepdad is like the book of knowledge: crazy hormonal teenage edition. Boy problems? He would probably make me feel better. He just always seemed to know what to say. I think that the most important lesson that I have learned from my stepdad is: to never give up. My stepdad has been through three cycles of leukemia. He is now in remission, yay!! But, I never heard him complain. I never heard him worry and I never saw him feeling sorry for himself. Through you, I found strength.

3. He loved me as his own.

The big one, the one that may seem impossible to some step parents. My stepdad is not actually my stepdad, but rather my dad. I will never have enough words to explain how grateful I am for this man, which is why I am attempting to write this right now. It takes a special kind of human to love another as if they are their own. There had never been times where I didn't think that my dad wouldn't be there for me. It was like I always knew he would be. He introduces me as his daughter, and he is my dad. I wouldn't have it any other way. You were able to show me what family is.

So, dad... thanks. Thanks for being you. Thanks for being awesome. Thanks for being strong. Thanks for loving me. Thanks for loving my mom. Thanks for giving me a wonderful little sister. Thanks for being someone that I can count on. Thanks for being my dad.

I love you!

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You May Be In College, But Positive Reinforcement Is Still Essential For A Better Life

It's truly amazing to see how positive reinforcement, especially from a professor or someone who works in your chosen field, can boost your confidence.

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Being a freshman in college is tough, and I'm absolutely positive that I'm not the first person to say that. For me, the biggest adjustments came with being far from home, having to make brand new friends, and actually figuring out what I want to do with my life. Now, those first two items were not that difficult to find solutions to, but that last one? That is a completely different story.

In the span of six-seven months, I have gone back and forth, again and again with just about every combination of majors and minors that you could think of. At this moment, I think I've finally found a combination that will truly push me to succeed in my goals. By the end of next semester, I'm hopeful that I will be able to declare my major and minors.

But, the point of this article is to share the point in this current semester, where I really believed that my goals can become a reality. Right now, I am enrolled in a course called "introduction to critical intelligence studies." After much debate with the class, our professor decided to put our midterm online, making it a take-home exam. It consisted of a few multiple choice questions and three essays of our choosing. With the idea that this exam was take-home, I knew that my professor would be expecting us to put our best foot forward and all of our time and effort into making sure we did well.

And I did. This was the first midterm result that I got back and it was a 100. How did I find this out? For one day, instead of class, my professor met with each of us individually for at least ten minutes to discuss what we were hoping to get out of this class. It was during this meeting that she told me my grades and more.

My professor had explained to me that based on my writing, she did not think that I was just a mere freshman. She continued to say that I have a knack for analysis, as well as the fact that it was truly evident that I took in all the information from her lectures and the assigned readings. With my grades in mind and what I hoped to do in the future, my professor assured me that I should have no problem accomplishing my goals. My professor made sure that I had confidence in myself and my abilities, providing me with even more steps that would lead to success.

It's truly amazing to see how positive reinforcement, especially from a professor or someone who works in your chosen field, can boost your confidence. This reinforcement has provided me with the means and opportunity to further push myself. Since this meeting, I have been in constant contact with my professor to learn about different opportunities that can build up my resume. With her help, as well as the director of the program, I've been able to learn more about anything and everything that has to do with intelligence.

I'm proud to say that I want to go into such a field. And I'm also proud to say that I'm thankful for everyone who has decided to push me and not only celebrate my successes — but also to help me learn from my mistakes.

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