Why I Strive Towards Extreme Minimalism

Why I Strive Towards Extreme Minimalism

The reasoning behind a North American college student and nomad.
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Last summer, I spent six amazing weeks as a camp counselor at Interlochen Summer Arts Camp in Northern Michigan, and a part of my identity among both my coworkers and my campers was that I was striving to be a minimalist. One night during bunk-talk, me and my co-counselor asked all of our campers to assign their bunk mate what animal they are. When it came around to me and my co, we had all of our campers shout (shout-whisper?) what they thought we were in animal form.

For me, they thought I would be a turtle. When I asked why, they said, "Well you've always talked about being able to carry everything you own in a backpack and suitcase, so it's like you have your home with you just like a turtle has their shell."

For the past seven months, that comment has resonated with me, and it has helped me take more active steps to becoming an official “turtle” so to speak.

It hasn’t been an easy journey though as camp life and college life are polar opposite in terms of fashion and general hygiene upkeep. Throughout the summer, I was limited to a uniform and 1-2 outfits of “rec/street clothes” and only had a few minutes each day to wash my face and shower. And on top of that, makeup was just not a thing anyone had time for. However, in college, I love to look well put together and professional on a daily basis.

This factor equates to owning and needing more material goods, which makes it a lot harder to fit everything in a suitcase and backpack. But I refuse to stop trying.

And this is why:

After observing my habits for the past few years, I've come to believe that possessions tie me down. Being a minimalist allows me more freedom and gives me more flexibility to leave home and travel, move, explore on a whim.

And my family inspires to do exactly that. I've had a cousin who lived on a boat; a cousin who backpacked South America; a father who walked to Florida, biked around the continental US and was in the 82nd airborne. So here I am, eager to make my mark not out of obligation but out of this burning need. Why the burning need? I have this crux where I hate staying in the same place for too long, especially if I don't have a chance to stretch my legs.

I love the idea of being able to pack up my life in 30 minutes just so I can go catch a last minute flight, hop in a car, ride a train, or do something spontaneous. I wouldn't need to spend hours, days, or weeks planning on what to bring, what to leave behind, or what to get rid of.

Pairing down all my items has been and will forever be a continuous struggle because consumerism and materialism are deeply ingrained in American society. There's advertising everywhere that appeals to me in one way or another, whether it's emotionally, ethically, or logically. However, with consumerism and materialism, there's another catch. Both of those ideals are directly linked to other ideals such as beauty, fashion, and health. As someone who has questioned how beautiful, trendy, and skinny I am over the years, becoming a minimalist helps to reject those bogus influences that I let interfere with my overall view of myself.

Even though adopting this new lifestyle isn't easy, it is worth it. Since I've embarked on this journey, I've found a freedom inside of me despite society trying to infiltrate my lifestyle by telling me that minimalism is "wrong", "weird", and "un-American." But I don't care. I'm happy roaming around with my turtle shell.

Cover Image Credit: Stacey Keba

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To The Parent Who Chose Addiction

Thank you for giving me a stronger bond with our family.

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When I was younger I resented you, I hated every ounce of you, and I used to question why God would give me a parent like you. Not now. Now I see the beauty and the blessings behind having an addict for a parent. If you're reading this, it isn't meant to hurt you, but rather to thank you.

Thank you for choosing your addiction over me.

Throughout my life, you have always chosen the addiction over my programs, my swim meets or even a simple movie night. You joke about it now or act as if I never questioned if you would wake up the next morning from your pill and alcohol-induced sleep, but I thank you for this. I thank you because I gained a relationship with God. The amount of time I spent praying for you strengthened our relationship in ways I could never explain.

SEE ALSO: They're Not Junkies, You're Just Uneducated

Thank you for giving me a stronger bond with our family.

The amount of hurt and disappointment our family has gone through has brought us closer together. I have a relationship with Nanny and Pop that would never be as strong as it is today if you had been in the picture from day one. That in itself is a blessing.

Thank you for showing me how to love.

From your absence, I have learned how to love unconditionally. I want you to know that even though you weren't here, I love you most of all. No matter the amount of heartbreak, tears, and pain I've felt, you will always be my greatest love.

Thank you for making me strong.

Thank you for leaving and for showing me how to be independent. From you, I have learned that I do not need anyone else to prove to me that I am worthy of being loved. From you, I have learned that life is always hard, but you shouldn't give into the things that make you feel good for a short while, but should search for the real happiness in life.

Most of all, thank you for showing me how to turn my hurt into motivation.

I have learned that the cycle of addiction is not something that will continue into my life. You have hurt me more than anyone, but through that hurt, I have pushed myself to become the best version of myself.

Thank you for choosing the addiction over me because you've made me stronger, wiser, and loving than I ever could've been before.

Cover Image Credit: http://crashingintolove.tumblr.com/post/62246881826/pieffysessanta-tumblr-com

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Everyone Should Care About Latinx Issues, Regardless Of Their Own Identities

It's important no matter who you are or where you come from.

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Disclaimer: As someone who is white, I am speaking on a culture that is not my own and which I am not an authority on. Please remember this and do your own research. Reach out to those who do identify as Latinx but as always, respect that it is not the job of any minority population to field all questions and educate.

People often say that no matter how old you get or how much you think you know, you never stop learning. I've always found this to be true but recently I was reminded of just how true it really is. On March 27, Bowling Green State University held their 24th annual Latino/A/X issues conference. I had heard about the conference in passing much earlier in the month and it piqued my interest but admittedly slipped my mind pretty quickly after hearing about it. It wasn't until a friend of mine had informed me that she and another one of our friends were receiving awards at the conference that I finally put it on my calendar.

As I looked through the program at all of the different events scheduled for the day, the first to catch my eye was a theatrical performance called Spanish Ohio: Reflections on loss, gain acceptance and belonging moderated by a Bowling Green professor and friend, Emily Aguliar. I can confidently say that I have not, in a long time felt so confused and lost in a theatrical setting in a long time. The performance was presented in about 90% Spanish and 10% English and having little more than a basic understanding of Spanish from my high school days, I was able to understand a few key words or phrases here and there but more I just found myself intrigued by what I didn't understand...which was a lot. At the end of the performance, there was a sort of Q&A; where we as the audience could ask questions to the performers. During which time an audience member made a comment that really opened my mind.

She had said that it was important for people outside of the Latinx community to be lost in that moment. That the not understanding was what so many people whose first language isn't English feel all the time.

This statement really hit me hard and stuck with me. Even though I was at a performance at my college where I knew that I was safe, secure and taken care of, not knowing what was going on around me was overwhelming and a little unsettling. Not because I fear the existence of languages other than English, but because I felt as if I was expected to understand and take away things that I simply couldn't. And the fact that people move about in the world feeling like this every day in a society where they are not looked after or cared for was a painful but oh so necessary realization.

People are being forced to exist in a place that doesn't make it easy for them to do so. All too often the one piece of 'advice' given to those who speak any language other than English is simply to 'Just speak English' as if it is more important for the majority to feel comfortable and unthreatened by the existence of a language outside of our own than it is to respect the culture, language, and diversity of the Latinx community.

This conference really opened my eyes to the struggles of the Latinx community but at the same time, it highlighted and celebrated the achievements as well. I was lucky enough to be able to see two women who are very important to me receive awards for the work that they've done in and around the community. Both of these women are beyond deserving of the accolades they received. They are passionate, strong, opinionated women with knowledge and heart and I was thankful to be there to witness both of them receiving the recognition that they so deserve. It is SO important to recognize the contributions of people who have been pushed to the sort of outskirts of the conversation so to speak and I can say that it was very moving for me to see my friends as well as the others at the conference reveling in their identities and their cultures.

This is how it should be at all times, not just at a conference.

People should feel comfortable in their identities and people who are in positions of privilege should be using their voices to amplify the marginalized. I am so very thankful to have been able to attend this event and learn and grow in my understanding of culture, identity, and people. So, thank you to BGSU and LSU for putting in the work to make this possible for everyone, and to Emily and Camila-I'm proud of you both! Amplify the marginalized and underrepresented and never stop learning everything you can.

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