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Maximize a Minimalism Mentality

Me on a beach

This quarter I have been studying at the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology in Charleston, Oregon for my second term. The last time I studied here was the summer of 2016 and it was a blast. There were campfires, we snuck stray kittens into the dorm, I was completely engulfed in my overflowing class load and a lot of bonding occurred because we were shoved into two extremely minimal dorm halls (walls of each room didn't go up to the ceiling). We were constantly out at the tide pools, looking under rocks and collecting samples to observe under a microscope in a saltwater lab.

I haven't been to the tide pools this term because the ocean is unforgiving this time of year. Instead of being in the dorms where people were forced to socialize, we are set up in five cookie-cutter, two-story cottages where I share a bunkbed with another girl. I'm only taking classes two days a week, an online poetry class and then occasionally going out to the dock with a plankton net to catch bell jellies to study for independent research. I started the quarter being swamped with three writing jobs, but I had to decrease my workload for them because I wasn't keeping up.

Strangely enough, I do much better when I'm constantly on the move. Out here amidst the constant overcast, where the nearest grocery store is a fifteen minute drive away and classes are few and far between, it has been easy for me to get lost in myself. In Netflix. In app games on my iPhone. I grew depressed. I'll be the first to admit it, I haven't utilized my time this quarter like I should have. But I learn more and more every day that it is never too late to change your patterns.

I told my parents today to change the password on Netflix and not tell me what the new one is. I deleted all the games off my phone (except for Two Dots because I'm only human). This was after watching a documentary (yes, on Netflix) called "Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things". It talked about only keeping the things in your life that really make your life better. Everything you own should have a beneficial purpose.

Now, this wasn't the first time I was confronted with minimalism. I've seen the "Tiny Homes" show on TCL. I would even describe my uncle and aunt to be minimalists. They have no TV, they grow a lot of their food in their neighborhood-sized backyard (along with chickens, bees, and a koi pond). They bike most places and they visit farmer's markets. They entertain themselves by painting, cooking and gardening. And they seem really happy with their life.

I've thought lately about what materials I really need to be satisfied as I have been moving around a lot recently. My parents sold my childhood home earlier this year, packing up all my belongings that I didn't take with me to college into boxes. I currently have someone subleasing my room in Eugene, so I had to move everything out of there. And now, I'm sharing a three drawer dresser and a small closet with another girl for eleven weeks. Suddenly, what I actually need has decreased significantly.

So what does this have to do with giving up Netflix and getting out of my lazy funk? I find myself overwhelmed often and not very good at focusing on only one thing at a time. I can't sit still to watch something without playing on my phone at the same time. I'm always thinking about my to-do list and that causes me to freak myself out and quickly hide from the world through my laptop or phone.

I need some major reorganization and I think minimalism can help. If there's not too many things (a place for everything and everything in its place) then maybe this organization can help me center myself too. And if I stop relying on electronics for entertainment, it'll leave more room in my life for going out in nature or reading books.

There's other practical aspects of minimalism that have intrigued me. For one thing, I wouldn't need as much space to be satisfied, increasing my living opportunities and decreasing my living costs. This leaves more money for travel or buying longer-lasting, more important items. I would decrease my consumption, putting less of an imprint on the planet.

But it's more than just decreasing your impact. I think it just shifts your impact over to other things. If I didn't have to worry about making a lot of money to afford a large house or a lot of things, then it would take the stress off of getting a job that pays a lot. This way, I can focus instead on being the best journalist and scientist I can be.

So less sounds like more to me. I know it's not an easy goal and I'm in no way immune to the call of clothing stores, but I think it's definitely worth trying. Luckily, the movement is becoming more popular, so there are many sites and books that can help me out. I'll create an update post in the future to show my progress.

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