Note: This is a guest post from Jessica Malone of Nacho Average Fro.
26 seems a bit early for a life crisis, nevertheless that’s when my journey began.
By the world’s standards, I had it made. I went to college, graduated top of my class, snagged a job at a Fortune 10 company, built a healthy 401K, traveled the world, and collected lots and lots of stuff.
I was living “the good life;” and yet I was miserable.
While I was acquiring all the material and experiential things, I lost my sense of self. I didn’t really know who I was. I only knew what I thought was expected of me.
Summa Cum Laude graduate, Fortune 10 employee, world traveler, top performing sales professional—these were my parents’ dreams for me. As great as they were, they left me unfulfilled.
At the crux of my clutter lay the same theme: I never believed I was enough.
I’d risked my health, my self-esteem, and my sanity to attempt to fill a void. At age 14, my parents announced their divorce. At 26, I realized I was still mad. Not because they divorced, but because I couldn’t make it stop. I wasn’t enough to hold it all together. For 12 years, I carried that burden and built a life I hoped would overcome it.
I traveled in hopes of impressing others.
I over-worked in hopes of receiving the praise I’d grown accustomed to.
I rented a 2 bedroom apartment in hopes of creating space for the family I desired.
But tourism quickly became escapism, the apartment became overwhelming, and the work became stressful and debilitating. I woke to panic attacks, ate and slept my way into 35 more pounds, and lived in fear. Fear of facing the aftermath of my parents’ divorce, a job I couldn’t stand, a city I didn’t enjoy, and the loneliness I felt because I moved so often.
Minimalism changed that.
As I cleared the television, glassware for a party of 12, and books I’d never read, I saw all the effort I’d put into living a life that wasn’t authentic to me. In the newfound silence, I was forced to think for myself. I began to explore, to play, and to follow my gut. In the process, I built a blog, a conference, and a coaching business.
As I cleared my calendar, I realized that I was running from my past and the present life I now disdained. Decluttering put me in my place.
I learned that while I love travel, new cultures, and experiencing life in new ways, I can’t do it at the expense of my healing. Today, I live out of a van and travel full-time in pursuit of my dreams. But only after choosing to address my greatest fears and learning to believe in myself and my power.
As I cleared the subscriptions, bar tabs, drive-thru expenses, and debt in my finances, I realized just how much I’d given away in the pursuit of “having it all.”
Creating space allowed me to define my goals and align my money accordingly. In doing so, I fueled my dreams. I quit my job in pursuit of entrepreneurship, self-funded my conference 2 years in a row, and built the van of my dreams while continuing to be debt free.
Clearing the space taught me how to recognize what I love, what I fear, and who I am. While I’ve cleared a lot of stuff, it was never really about that. It was always about what the stuff represents. Minimalism helped me find my purpose, passion, and self.
For that, I am grateful.
Jessica Malone is a clutter coach, blogger, and conference creator. She helps others dig deep so they can get un-stuck and live the life of their dreams. When she’s not helping people build a life they love, she’s focused on building the life she loves. Right now, she is traveling full-time in a van with her fiancé as they pursue their dreams. To see how she’s putting it all together, follow her on Instagram.