Anna Hart’s beautiful book ‘Departures’ wasn’t the first time I had seen travel linked to minimalism, but it was the first time it really meant something to me as a student. Hart’s summary, describing minimalism as a life concept as akin to the act of packing a bag for a holiday, made perfect sense. Minimalism is the idea of keeping only the essential within life and removing all that serves as simply a distraction. This can be in any aspect of life, including how you spend your time, but is mostly focused on the things we own. University students are almost intrinsically tied up in a lifestyle of transit. We unpack only to complete the term, or year, and leave again.
We spend our lives lugging around a ton of useless crap in the hopes that it somehow defines us as a person
We spend our lives lugging around a ton of useless crap in the hopes that it somehow defines us as a person, or worse, in fear that we may need it at some point. What if our Nationwide key doorstop from first year turns out to be the difference between life and death? Instead, it clutters our minds, our hearts, and our lives. How can we come to University with a fresh outlook, ready to begin the term when, like myself this year, it takes us more than three days just to unpack? Or our landlord can’t stop laughing because it is the most things he has physically seen a tenant bring in; in all the years he has rented to students?
“Mental health” has become such a buzzword that, when written, it almost doesn’t mean anything. It fails to encapsulate the endless struggle to get up in the morning, the sluggishness, the nausea, the feeling of overwhelming dread myself and so many others felt when they experienced anxiety. I don’t claim to have experienced it as badly as some others, but people more educated and intelligent than myself within psychology have identified mess as the need to cling to the familiar, the known. It also feeds all the terrors that I had; a lack of control over my own life, a sense of too many things to do at once, a sense that I couldn’t keep on top of everything I needed or wanted to do. The feeling of somehow drowning in my own thoughts of inadequacies and choking on what I felt was expected. Excess things or activities in our lives; distract us from what we truly know we should be focusing on. Focus breeds results, calm, and inner peace.
“Mental health” has become such a buzzword that, when written, it almost doesn’t mean anything
The idea that minimalism as a concept is only in the reach of the elite, is the weirdest idea. Yes, having time to yourself to do absolutely nothing may be something out of reach of students. This is not what minimalism is! Just have a look at your life. Carefully. Ruthlessly. Look closer. Do you really need to try to keep in touch with that many people? Do you really need to take on that many society commitments? Do you need to keep that ugly ass cardigan that your mother bought you, admittedly with a lot of love, but probably doesn’t mind if you don’t wear? Admittedly I’m speaking to myself, the biggest hypocrite in this area. I attempted to join fifteen societies last year, going to almost none of them as a result, and having several tearful moments. I wondered what was wrong with me that I couldn’t accomplish this humanly insurmountable feat of stupidity. Be real. Be truthful. Don’t restrict yourself beyond your ability to bear, but take some hard looks at the way you live your life. Your life is like your suitcase; only put things in if you actually care.