As far as health goes, I’ve been having a rough time lately. Weeks into my lovely new job, I tested positive for Covid (again), and although that was incredibly mild compared to the first time I caught it, I returned to work and immediately came down with a throat infection which has moved into my chest.
It was kind of hilarious, actually, trying to support children in class when I had completely lost my voice. It was almost like playing a game of Taboo, with everyone trying to guess what I was miming, except there were no winners or losers.
I’ve been sat in bed for most of today feeling rubbish, coughing my lungs out, and trying desperately to gain some semblance of health back, whilst telling myself not to feel so guilty.
However, the time recovering in bed has given me time to think about what I want for the future, partly fuelled by finishing Matt Haig’s book ‘The Midnight Library’.
In the book, the character, Nora, is hovering between life and death after a suicide attempt and gets to try out different versions of herself in different lives. It was such a powerful book to me, because I do tend to spend a lot of my time imagining myself in different lives where I made different choices. Sometimes, I feel deflated when that daydream bursts and I find myself back in my actual life.
I think most of us are guilty of that, never really living in the present, but in some fantasy of what life could be…without putting in the work to make it a reality or stopping to see what we do have and what is good in our lives. We also tend to forget that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, and, upon closer inspection, harbours other varieties of weeds and dead plants.
One major reminder I took from ‘The Midnight Library’ was that we have the power to shape our lives, and as long as there’s still a pawn left on the chessboard of life (Nora plays chess) we should never give up. We still have power, even when things look hopeless.
For me, I’ve been seriously considering the extreme side of minimalism, and that includes not just with my stuff but the way I live life in general. I already consider myself kind of extreme on the minimalist scale, but extreme to who? The concept of minimalism is entirely subjective. Someone who only owns 15-30 items may think that someone with 90-100 things owns too much, for example, whereas, someone else may think thats far too little.
We all live different lives and have different values. And those values can change.
As I’ve had time to think and have done tonnes of self-awareness work in my counselling courses, I’ve come to realise I still fall prey to worrying about what others think, even though I’ve been living this alternative lifestyle of minimalism for the past 5 years.
Before I got a sudden burst of confidence and made my first Youtube video, I had half given up on the idea. I started some time ago but was told “You should look elegant and wear light colours, and the camera needs be at this angle”. The advice was well-meaning, but before I knew it I felt inauthentic and realised that most of my favourite Youtubers do as well as they do because their authenticity shines through. Wearing light-coloured clothes and being elegant is simply a personal choice.
Still, that well-meaning advice and opinion of how I should look as a minimalist knocked my confidence for a while. Like Nora in ‘The Midnight Library’ I began to think that I wasn’t cut out for much of anything, that I couldn’t do life correctly, never mind minimalism – the very thing I love spreading and am obsessed with.
But I chose to let go of all of the shoulds and musts because even the most well-meaning advice can sometimes go against who we are as people and knock us off path. I embrace who I currently am as a minimalist; someone who loves bright-coloured rainbowy clothing, who loves floral designs that remind me of summer, and who is loud and outspoken.
Who knows? One day, even further into my minimalist journey, I might decide to stick to monotone colours and love it. I might only own one outfit type (something I’m seriously considering), and I might find calm in taming myself and my current mannerisms.
But I choose to live in the present. Right now, I am who I am because of the choices I made based on the person I was several years before, and I’ll be who I am in the future because of the choices I make now.
We all have choices in the chess game of life, we just have to be brave enough to move our pawns.
Whatever you decide, choose to be unapologetically you.