Minimalism Motivation USA

Getting rid of all your crap

Next week, I’m moving out of the Harlem apartment I’ve leased for two and a half years and oddly, there’s nothing but one thing I am feeling right now:

relief.

Finally.

If there’s anything that stresses out a hardcore traveler, it’s having obligations. Obligations in the form of job contracts. Furniture. Pets. Apartment leases. All things that we take on daily that become the core reasons we can’t just get up and travel.

When I first moved into my first NYC apartment, all I remember thinking was how much money is spent on security deposits, on rent, on utilities, on furniture…and how all of that could be going toward travel (and how it all had previously gone to travel the entire year abroad living in Paris in a month-to-month chambre de bonne)But I decided to settle down and get back to the real world as so many people tell themselves they should do, and I hesitantly signed my lease.

But I knew I knew myself and that’s why for the past two and a half years of off-and-on traveling, I have felt weighed down by the constant worry in the back of my mind that I may not be able to make Manhattan rent or that a subletter won’t pay rent (or having to find a subletter who is okay with sharing a studio with a roommate in Harlem for that matter). Or worrying that my landlord will find out I’m not actually living in my apartment. Or that my utilities won’t be paid and then my credit will go down.

But with all that being said and done, now comes moving out – the relief part – which leaves me one less issue (my apartment lease), but still with my other obligation:

all my crap.

What do I own and more importantly what do I even need anyway? What do I even care to keep? I once read a blog about allowing yourself to only own 100 things, including socks, toothbrushes, books, etc. in an effort to remind ourselves that most of the stuff we own is just crap, serving no purpose in our life besides comfort, and that even the things that we tell ourselves are “for comfort” are really just a delusion; that we unnecessarily attach ourselves to possessions thinking we need them to feel comfort and happiness. That’s an advertiser’s dream and sole purpose of their job.

Reminder: the only things we need are food and water (and shelter not in the form of $1,200 300 square foot Manhattan apartments); all the rest is extra – and while a lot of that extra is worth, like an iPhone, which makes our lives 10x easier every day, that box of crap you have in the corner of your apartment filled with things you might use one day is probably not necessary.

So I decided to look around my apartment at all the things I own.

IMG_4435

OK, not much, but in the past two and a half years of NYC living, I’ve invested in the comfiest, big red couch that I actually got off eBay; a microwave I bought off Craigslist; a lofted bed I got from IKEA because it was the cheapest piece of furniture there; a dresser I got for free off Craigslist; and a few other small kitchen appliances.

And then I looked around again and realized:

I don’t want any of it. Zero, zilch, rien.

The person replacing me in my shared studio can have everything. Yes, e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g; I don’t care about the profits I potentially could make off of all the things I own. Our lives shouldn’t always be represented by profit or loss; they should also be about freedom and letting go for the improvement of ourselves.

One reason is that most of the stuff I own is not nice. Thank God I didn’t invest $900 on a mattress or $1,000 on a couch because the more we invest in an apartment, the more we’re complicating future travels for ourselves by telling ourselves, “But I invested in all of this stuff, I can’t just get up and go! What am I going to do with my…?” Don’t get yourself in that consumerist cycle.

Second, at the end of the day, it’s all just more crap, cluttering our thoughts and literally and figuratively weighing us down. That Keurig that’s been sitting in my cupboard for the past three months? I don’t need it. That extra towel I thought I might need for guests that has never been used? I don’t need it. That book I read half of? I don’t need it. That ten-season DVD collection of FRIENDS? Sorry, but that one I need.

Minimalism isn’t about getting rid of everything; it’s about getting rid of everything you don’t need, to remind yourself of things that are actually important and meaningful in life. It’s about being real  and calling yourself out on excuses like you “might need it one day.” Like seriously 95% of the time, you probably won’t use it, and when you finally get rid of things you don’t use or need anymore, you no longer have to think about if you’ll be needing or using them anymore, and when you’re not thinking about that, you’re thinking about things that actually matter to your life, like your experiences, your beliefs, your hobbies, your friends, your family, your travels.

Just remember that the more crap you own, the harder it is to pack up and leave. Don’t let it become just one more excuse as to why now is not the right time to travel.

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  • Shay

    Love this article – I get so attached to simple objects and think ‘oh but what if I need this later?’, and then I end up becoming a packrat and its where my items own ME. Over time I learned that its time to let go – and also learned to travel with the smallest backpack possible, after all its more about the memories than the souvenirs and whatnot.

    • Trust me, my parents used to call me “packrat” when I was a little kid and like you, over time, I learned to let go. Thanks for reading Shay! I see you around on the comments here quite a bit!

      • Shay

        I enjoy your videos and blog posts so much! Love you guys!

        • Thanks for reading and watching Shay! We appreciate all your comments! They really make it easier to keep writing and keep filming! <3

          • Carolina

            I couldn’t agree with you more Damon. At first it seems impossible to live with less, but once you start, it’s really possible and then you can do it again faster and better than you first thought possible. It’s really freeing to be honest. If you want a place to start try Project 333 it’s a minimalist closet challenge that could help. There are lots of videos of it on YouTube. Good luck!

  • Calv

    What an exciting new chapter for you guys. I’m curious about your means of moving across the country, knowing how smart and savvy you two are. Are you flying? Renting a U-Haul? Freighthopping? Uber?

    And have you guys found a place to live or stay yet, or are you gonna wing it as usual?

    Either way, film everything.

    • We are actually planning on doing a cross-country train trip NYC to LA! And you seem to know us well: nope, we don’t have a place to stay yet, well not permanently. We do have a few friends we can crash with until we do find a place! Oh the joys of having friends from around the world!!! 😀

  • Ashley

    Just wanted to say that NYC is sad to see you go!!! And wish that I could be more like you, not growing attached or letting things weigh you down as you move forward in your amazing lives.

    • By realizing what’s happening, you’re already half-way there!

  • Pingback: What my $1200 tiny Manhattan studio apartment looks like | Shut Up and Go()

  • Vini Vlog

    I guess we all go through it once in our lives, but most people don’t really take the time to think of how important it is to let go of things. Watching your videos and reading these amazing articles has been a life-change for me. I’ve always wanted to shut up and go, but everybody thought I was crazy and I needed to focus on my carrier, and my future and all that speech that comes along with it. I must confess that I’ve been buying it and trying to do that always felt misfit. Now I know I’m alone and it’s totally OK to want a life with more experiences than material things. Thank you Damon and Jo! Keep up with the tremendously good work you do =) Beijos do Brasil!

  • Shannon V

    What do you do about clothes? Do you think it’s better to invest in a few staple pieces or just thrift and find deals? I like minimal style when it comes to clothes (also easier to mix and match) but it seems that the more simple a shirt is, the higher its price tag!

  • I started reading this book called, “The Life-changing magic of Tidying up” and it is exactly what it’s titled, but with so much more value in terms of how it can effect your overall mentality on life. It may not apply to you completely per se as you are a wanderer (and the best kind), with no permanent space to call your own at this moment. What she does talk about that I can apply to what you have written here is to get rid of the crap that causes clutter and only keep the items that bring joy to your life. You and Jo both are beautiful and inspiring!

  • Katie M

    Brilliant post. I really connected with this whole concept. I’ve just come back from a 3 and a half month trip around South East Asia and had the time of my life. I came home to find all my boxes of crap stacked up in my boyfriend’s parents’ shed and me thinking ‘What the hell am I gonna do with all of this STUFF’… living out of a bag for 3+ months really makes you realise that you don’t need piles and piles of stuff to live happily. Now i’m back home (In Dublin, Ireland) and i’m just dying to travel again but funds are low. I’m a Vet so i’ve decided to take up temporary/locum work here and there as being a travel lover I can’t bear the idea right now of getting into a long term contract! So nice to read this blog and know i’m not the only one out there feeling this way. You guys are funny and inspiring. Will definitely be a regular visitor here. Now off to plan my next trip! xx Katie

  • Nazihah Ismail

    This post it really helpful. I need to reread again in few weeks and hopefully start getting rid of the novels I bought & haven’t read over the course of 4 years as well as all the clothing items I hoarded when I was obsessed with “layering”. I don’t even need layering in Malaysia. It’s freaking hot all year round.

  • Every time I move I end up throwing at least 30% of my possessions away. It took me until last year to learn to just stop buying so much crap in the first place!

  • Simon Rollat

    I moved from France to Canada 3 years ago. Sold my car, left my appartment, sold the biggest furnitures that I had, then gave away the others. Packed like 1/3 of my wardrobe and kept my photos and books. Here I am, 3 years later, with not much more except my bike and a dog (travelling with me) 😀

  • Meg

    This is very inspiring! I am planning to relocate abroad in the near future and this is a great resource. Much appreciated.

  • Halima Grant

    how do you guys pay off credit/college debt while traveling? I know Jo touched on it somewhat but idk..I think you have some experience and I want to do what you do.

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