How did I start my minimalist journey?

 
 Photo / Sophie Tajan

Photo / Sophie Tajan

 

Minimalism is the value that impacts my life and my work the most.

Let me tell you how it started :

CLUTTERED FAMILY HOME
I grew up in flats filled with stuffs. Lots of stuffs.  In my household, buying was a way to fill emotional gaps and bury family secrets. Every day, my parents would bring back new and used clothes, books, groceries and random gadgets gathered everywhere around Paris. Our main family outing was spending weekends in markets and seasonal garage sales aimlessly buying finds we didn’t know we needed.

Quantity and low prices were more important than quality. No corner of the house was left empty. The multiple storage spaces we had were so full, making it impossible to enter and remember what we had.

INTROVERT
Very early, I found the situation quite overwhelming. As an introvert, I was very sensitive about the feel and atmosphere of places I was surrounded with. I remember feeling very inspired and energised whenever I was visiting friends and family homes, which felt more curated. I would regularly try to rearrange my room to make it more cosy and daydream peacefully. However, most of my attempts resulted in frustration and secretly throwing stuffs away hoping no one would notice…

CREATIVE BLOCK
As a child, my two biggest passions were drawing and the idea of exploring the world. Again, I was so uncomfortable where I was that daydreaming was my favourite escape. I would spend hours: drawing imaginary worlds, sticking dream home inspirations on my wall, browsing encyclopedias and collecting images from foreign lands and cultures, learning new languages…

At 16, a creative block hit me and I gave up my creative endeavours altogether. Instead, I focused all my energy on the travelling part and set the goal to leave France and move abroad. To make this dream a reality, I spent the next few years working hard to enrol into an international business school. This was a true challenge, given my economical (working class), geographical (Paris suburbs) and racial background (2nd generation African immigrant). Luckily, thanks to my determination, I succeeded.

MODERN NOMAD : 12 YEARS, 8 COUNTRIES
2006 - 2018. France, England, China, Canada, USA, Iceland, Denmark, Japan. I’ve managed to be a local of those places, from 1 month to 3 years thanks to my studies, internships, jobs, relationships and also by taking chances and following the signs.

At the beginning of my serial expat/immigrant journey, I remember packing my unique suitcase with way too much. I was either embarrassing myself by removing extra weight at the airport or overspending on shipping costs not to leave any of my new found treasures behind. The painful experience of carrying heavy suitcases and boxes of unidentified items from places to places often left me with disgust. I slowly realised that despite leaving my parents house, I was still recreating the same pattern. This realisation shook me and my mindset started to shift gradually.

The more I moved, the more I was forced to be selective about my belongings. Starting life from scratch with no clear plans about how things will evolve, I had to quickly adapt and recreate a new social life, new home, habits and learned to embrace uncertainty and the transience of things, relationships and experiences.

The more I moved, the more clarity I gained. By simplifying my life on the outside, I got more time and space to look inward and know myself better: my values, interests and passions, tastes…

Minimalism is a mindset that emerged from my nomadic lifestyle.

At 24, it helped me come back to myself, and clearly see what was missing when depression hit me after years of suppressed creativity. It gifted me with a taste for versatility and functionality in my life. Everything I do and own has a purpose. I adopted this approach in many parts of my life including my wardrobe, diet, and even my art. At 26, the only pen I owned and enjoyed writing with became the tool that helped me overcome my 10 years creative block. Full circle.

How did you got introduced to minimalism and how did it impacted your life?