Back In My Day…

Maybe a plant would help? (Image from www.usnews.com)

Maybe a plant would help? (Image from www.usnews.com)

My girl crush Light By Coco recently posted a video about maintaining a minimalist lifestyle while in college. I’ve been thinking about the video a lot lately because I love the idea of jetting off for an extended period of time with just the essentials…while also keeping a home base with everything else!

I believe I would be better at “living light” at this point in my life–ahem, in my thirties–than I would have been when I was in college. When I was young and starting over fresh in a brand-new place, I depended so much on my clothes, posters, photos, and other “stuff” to introduce myself to others (and to feel more comfortable in an alien place!). The stuff functioned as a kind of shorthand to quickly define myself to classmates and find some “safe,” like-minded people to hang out with (at least initially).

One of the reasons for going to college, though, is getting to know different kinds of people and trying new things, so maybe it would be good if everyone started with a fairly blank slate. In her video, Coco said that she could probably go off to college today with a only a carry-on bag! Can you imagine? That sounds so light and free. Like most college students, I moved at least once every year, and it was a royal pain to drag around all my books, clothes, and decorative stuff each time.

Coco’s video made me think about all the ways it would seem easier to “live light” if I were going to college today. I know myself better and am more confident, for starters, so I don’t think I would feel so dependent on certain clothes and decorations and whatnot to impress other people. Plus, there are so many ways that the internet would make minimalist college living easier. This makes me sound so old, but the internet is way different today than it was when I was in college, and it provides a kind of reach-back support that my peers and I didn’t have. Consider, for example:

Books. All of my college textbooks were expensive, bulky, and heavy. I bought used textbooks whenever I could, but they were still insanely expensive. You could sell your books at the end of the semester, but the bookstore only paid you like 10 to 20% of your original purchase price. It was (and is) a total racket. I usually kept my books, too, because I thought I might need to refer back to them. Today, though, the internet makes the textbook market much bigger and more competitive, and there are options for cheaply renting books or buying electronic books–options that I didn’t have when I was in college. Plus, the internet has all the information you could possibly need to refer back to, so there’s no need to maintain your own personal library.

Shopping. If you needed anything special when I was in school, you had to line up a ride to a store (freshmen couldn’t have cars) or ask your parents to send it. Today, you can order anything online and have it sent directly to you–often with free shipping! This didn’t really exist when I was in college. I remember, for example, having to scramble around town with my aunt one night to get a formal dress and shoes for some event. It was insane. Today, you could just order a few dresses and return the ones that don’t fit…OR rent formal dresses from sites like Rent the Runway…OR call up a cheap Uber ride!

Identity. Today, people define and identify themselves by their online presence in a way that hadn’t really taken root yet when I was college. Instead of looking at someone’s dorm room decorations or CD rack (yep!) to get an idea of their personality and interests, today you would just look them up on Instagram or YouTube.

There are tons of other ways that computers make it easier to live a minimal lifestyle in college today, too–just think about banking, record keeping, and entertainment, for example. Hmm. Looking over this post makes me realize, though, that many of these points don’t only apply to college life…so why am I still hanging onto so many books and files and stuff?! 🙂

– Angela

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