Amy and I spent the weekend in New York City visiting some friends and family. It has been about ten years since I’ve visited the city and a quite a lot has changed since then. From the moment we landed at LaGuardia, the entire environment felt rushed and bustling. Even in a downpour, there were people absolutely everywhere, going who knows where. The trip was fun, and provided some valuable new perspectives on our minimalism journey.
There were aspects that I enjoyed a lot – walking around Manhattan I would hear three or four languages being spoken on any block. Incredible varieties of people from all over the world going about their business in one place. The options for food; completely insane. I love trying new foods and restaurants and I’d never run out of places to go here. We had some incredible sushi, ramen, halal, ice cream, chicken and waffles, you name it. Food is one of our favorite parts of traveling, so this was definitely a bullseye and I’d go back for that alone.
On the flip side, for the first time since donating 70% of my clothing back in December, I felt pretty insecure about my appearance at times. We were surrounded by massive amounts of people, in fact, massive amounts of really conventionally attractive people specifically. An overwhelming number of people who looked as though they had just stepped out of an advertising campaign photo shoot. It felt like I was completely out-of-place most of the time and while Minneapolis isn’t a small city, it was a massive cultural dichotomy. It was the first time in a long time that I really noticed how differently I was dressed compared to the people around me.
What all of this helped me realize is, while our environments can be incredibly influential, it’s up to us to stay true to our beliefs regardless. Getting rid of most of my clothing was one of the best, most confidence-building things that I’ve done, and nothing will change that. It allowed me to mentally separate my self-worth from the things on my body and instead continue to build it from within. I have to imagine the feelings I had walking around Manhattan simply represent more internal work that I need to do. My views of what is important haven’t changed, but it did make me consider them.
Whether into high fashion or high comfort, stay true to convictions throughout changing environments. Be willing to consider alternatives, but always go with the option that best fits your life. For now, I’m happy to be back in a quieter city where I don’t feel quite so challenged to keep up with the Jones’. Our pursuit of the lifestyle we want continues without question and I’m more committed than ever to my beliefs: It is experiences and not things that bring me the most lasting joy in life.