I am a child of the 80’s when consumerism was rampant. My playroom was filled to the brim with toys of every kind – Barbies, a karaoke machine, board games, dress-up clothes, craft kits, coveted dolls that my grandma stood in line for hours to buy, etc. It was every child’s dream.
My bedroom had all things trolls in it. Yes, those small plastic dolls with brightly colored hair that stood up. In addition to the hundreds of troll dolls I had in an assortment of outfits, there were troll sheets, troll pillow cases, a troll back pack, stuffed animals, a lunch box, pencils, and the list goes on.
I come from a family of collectors who fed my latest obsession. They trained me to always be on the lookout for the obscure, missing items from my collection and theirs. This hunt continued in shopping malls, flea markets, antique stores, yard sales, even drug and grocery stores. We were constantly in search of the temporary thrill resulting from finding the perfect piece, even if we didn’t know we needed it.
When moving time came around (and it came around often), I was instructed to sort through my belongings and determine what was trash, what could be donated and what to keep. I did as I was told. Then I got to work on filling the next room with new stuff, and the cycle continued.
In high school I worked a part time job. I spent my paychecks on the latest trendy clothes, purses, shoes, going to the movies, and eating out with friends. There was always a holiday or birthday or some other excuse for my parents to buy me more things too.
Do I sound spoiled? I always admitted that I was spoiled, but I was not a brat. It was the grip of consumerism that convinced me to chase all the things. That’s what I was supposed to do. My budget in college forced me to scale back a bit, but that’s when I discovered credit cards.
Eventually, I got married at a destination wedding on the beach and moved into a 3,800 square foot home in the suburbs. That was the goal, right? Isn’t that what every woman wants? I did my wifely duty and designed the house with furniture and decorations until there were no more rooms to fill. I was supposed to be happy, but I wasn’t.
The house was expensive and time consuming to keep up. Even with a cleaning service that came every two weeks, I found myself spending the vast majority of my free time cleaning and fixing things inside and outside the house. The floors always looked dirty. Then there was yard work and the pool to clean. Heaven forbid I left the garbage can out for a day and the homeowners association saw it! Add to that a husband who became obsessed with the latest video game, and I was miserable. I left.
Friends and family helped me move into a smaller house in another suburb. Again, I carefully chose furniture and decorations. I had the seemingly perfect home for the single version of me. Again, I hated it.
Then I met and married my current husband. I had a thriving business and promising career, but I still wasn’t fulfilled. So I sold my business and got a different job. I wasn’t afraid of making changes in the pursuit of my version of happiness.
Our landlord changed the terms of my rental agreement with very little notice. I didn’t want to move to another beige box in the suburbs. In a passing conversation, our neighbor mentioned renovating a vintage trailer to live in. I was intrigued.
After talking it over with my husband, we took to the internet to find a starter RV. With a strict budget and tight timeline, we purchased a 5th wheel from 1987, prepared the tow vehicle, and put anything that wouldn’t fit in either of those into a storage unit. I didn’t know if I would love it or hate it, but I knew something had to change. The adventurer in me needed to give it a whirl. If it didn’t work out we could always rent or buy another house.
Four months later, I couldn’t remember what was in that storage unit. I didn’t miss any of the things that used to fill a house. In fact, I found exactly what I didn’t know I was looking for – freedom.
Minimalism is defined as a tool that can assist you in finding freedom. The camper is my means to minimalism. It confines the space I have for things while affording me the freedom of time to spend on the things I care about. The camper gives me financial freedom from a mortgage or large rent. It gives me freedom to travel or move about as I please. It gives me a deeper appreciation for the things I thoughtfully choose to keep or purchase. It gives me experiences that are worth more than anything money can buy. This little camper gives me the freedom to be happy.
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