Murky Shadows of Our Consumerist Selves

The frost-bit icy air shocks your warm body into consciousness as you step outside. Shivering, you wrap your winter coat tightly as you fight to conserve all the heat you can possibly conserve. You walk briskly and start to feel as if someone is walking in line with you as the hairs on your skin slowly raise up.

You stop abruptly and listen intently. The sounds stop abruptly. Deep silence fills the void. Shaking your head, you continue your brisk pace. Footsteps not far behind are heard distinctly now. It is no longer a question: Someone. Is. Following. You.


And so it is when one becomes a minimalist. Like a snake sheds its old skin, we depart from the old ways of thinking and doing things and adopt new, simpler, healthier ways of living and consuming. But minimalism does not come without its challenges.

One of these challenges is the ever persistent consumerist shadow. We all have one of these shadows following us, no matter what we do, where we go, how far off society’s path we tread.

Make no mistake. It follows us and knows our weaknesses. It waits for us to give in, to give up, to be lured back into lustful temptation as we mindlessly go shopping, take out our numerous credit cards and buy things which we don’t need with money we don’t have.

The dark shadows of our consumerist selves will not let up but we can learn to always look forward and never look backwards.

Are you looking forward?

Or are you constantly looking over your shoulder? Despite the strength you obviously encapsulate as you’ve shed your former consumerist self, there is that feeling that it’s right behind you and at any given moment, you can be dragged back into the fiery pits of consumption hell.

Minimalism is a concept that has great depth. How else do countless blogs, books, articles, reality TV shows, cartoons and so much more be alive and well? Flourishing, even?

If it were so simple as to be unnecessary to talk about further, you would not read this blog nor will you read any other countless sources of information on minimalism as a lifestyle.

Minimalism would cease to exist if it were a concept that was simple enough to grasp and that everyone would adopt.

There would be no consumption (and by consumption, I don’t mean we never eat, drink and be merry. It’s the brain dead approach to always acquiring, but never fully understanding why we do what we do). There would be no shopaholics. There would be no debt. There would be no crippling obesity and rampant diseases. Waste, pollution and mindless destruction would be severely limited and we wouldn’t be harming our Earth — and each other — nearly as much as we are today.

I’m not saying that minimalism is a way to end wars and create world peace … but what if I am? Is that too far-fetched for me to even proclaim? Is it so outlandish and lofty a dream as to be unreachable, unthinkable, unattainable?

Us humans are incredible creatures, capable of so very much. In this capacity to create, we also invariably destroy.

We destroy our lofty dreams of a greater world. A better reality than the one we so ignorantly accepted as the reality we should live. We destroy ourselves and the potential that lives within us when we choose what we think will make us happy rather than choosing what actually will make us happy.


I was in a frantic writing and idea-conjuring moment that I had random things strewn about my already radically minimalist room, with my one pair of jeans crumpled up in a corner, a space heater (yes, still very cold in Chicago) in another, my down comforter balled up on one side of my mattress, my Moleskine journal open with scribbles of explosive, and at times, erratic and unlinked thoughts, pictures, diagrams and poems and a half drunk glass of water sitting on the floor.

My roommate walked in, observed the miniature chaos, and said, “Wow. This is the messiest you can get? Nice!”

I knew if I was an ambitious hoarder, a failing romantic who kept every single thing that reminded her of unrequited and undying love, a crazy-eyed, wild-haired mad scientist who could care less about his workspace than the work he created, my room (and anywhere I lived and worked) would be a by-product of my lifestyle choice.

And not just my environment would be the obvious indicator of my lifestyle. But ME as a person. ME as a human being. ME as a woman. ME as Nina.

And so my life now is seemingly organized. Seemingly simple, carefree and minimalist. Seemingly in order with everything in its place and a place for everything.

Seemingly. This is the key word.

My life is not always organized. I am far from simple, though I may live a simple life. I am not a simpleton nor do I hope to ever come across as one. My life has failures, upsets, distractions, disagreements, love, hate, inhibitions, debauchery, irony, forgiveness, openness and introversion.

If you’ve ever met me and spoken with me, you will never have known that I am a natural introvert. But it’s true. Introversion can be overcome with enough practice and confidence in who you are. Just like consumption can be overcome with enough practice and confidence that you need not live life with so much baggage (literally and figuratively).

Don’t let your murky shadows of your former consumerist selves follow you. You can step boldly into a new world that is free, beautiful and oh so enlightening. And you’ll find you won’t ever need to look back.


For more, you can also check out my guest post at Rowdy Kittens on the fragile and flawed nature of a minimalist’s life.

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