ONE of the things I love most about being grown up is being able to live on my own. No one to tell me when to shower, when to go to bed, what to eat or that I should do my laundry because I’m running out of clean clothes.
It’s my (shared) kingdom, where I can totally be myself and do what I want. It’s unbelievably marvellous.
Of course all the grown-up luxuries also come with responsibilities — paying the rent on time, cleaning, paying bills and making sure there is nutritional food in the kitchen (cereal and crackers just don’t cut it).
But trust me when I say it’s always worth it. There is nothing better than coming home to your own place, taking off your bra (don’t judge, you ALL do it), and laying on the couch to watch the latest episode of Masterchef.
But slowly, our home is getting a bit too small for us. We fell in love with the 550-square-feet (about 51 sq m) apartment last year but now we’ve outgrown it.
After lots of reflection on what’s best (budget-wise, space-wise and with hopes of starting a family soon), we decided to go house hunting.
After months of searching, we found the perfect apartment to take us to the next level of “life” — it’s a bit of a fixer upper, but I love a good DIY challenge #prayforashraf
I’ve been slowly packing up our things in boxes that I’ve saved from dumpsters (why pay for boxes when you can get them for free?) and I am ashamed to report that after 18 boxes, I still have so much pack! When on earth did I accumulate all this stuff?
How did this avocado peeler get here? What’s in that ominous duffel bag? Why do I need 27 bottles of nail polish? I don’t remember buying all these hairpins! What are these accessories that I never wear and I am sure I have never used half of the cups in that cupboard.
All this stuff in a semi-studio apartment! What kind of treasures (read: crap) have I left behind in my mother’s house? I have a headache just thinking about it.
I must admit that my consumer habits are extremely overwhelming. I have four big boxes just labelled “shoes” — I only use five pairs regularly. What do I need the others for?
One of my habits that breaks my heart the most is my waste of food. I can’t help but buy everything I see in the grocery store, especially when I’m hungry.
I don’t think about actual recipes or what I want to make. I just pick up a piece of produce, can of soup or box of cookies and think “I’ll eat this”.
I’ll make a soup out of the butternut squash, have these eggs for breakfast and I’d totally make Ashraf eat alfalfa sprouts on toast. Totally.
At the checkout, I’m sometimes stunned by the three-figure total but I’ll reassure myself that it’s food. I HAVE to eat, right?
However, at the end of the week , I’ll forget about the papaya I bought and it’ll turn a bit grey. Also, the can of lentil soup hides itself behind my box of Cheerios and the chicken wings stay frozen for another month.
These habits are extremely shameful and my heart breaks when Ashraf cleans out the fridge and has to toss out food that we can no longer eat.
I can’t watch him do that because I get so sad (and because it smells pretty bad #besthusbandever
I want to change my consumer mindset and over-buying habits. It is hard! Especially when I work for a commerce company (did you see those new Mel and Molly shoes and the Raya collections? How can I NOT buy them? Check them out at www.fashionvalet.com #totallysubtle) and buying from them is as easy as blinking. The justification of “I’m contributing to the company” gets me every time.
But after staring at our 18 boxes and half-packed apartment, I’ve realised that I can’t continue living like this. I have to change.
I’ve been listening to a podcast called The Minimalists hosted by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus (you can find them on Spotify).
They’ve written three books and have a documentary on Netflix, none of which I’ve read or watched (yet), but I love their podcasts. I highly recommend checking them out.
They preach a minimalist lifestyle. I can see you thinking: “Is Iman getting rid of everything she owns? How can I get a pair of shoes?”
Minimalism does not simply mean getting rid of your “stuff”. Removing the excess is important but I believe it’s just one ingredient. I can’t just focus on paring down on the objects in my life. I’d be missing the point.
The point is making room for more. “More time, passion, experience, growth, contribution, contentment. More freedom. Clearing the clutter from life’s path helps us make that room” — The Minimalists.
They are so smart — that’s exactly what I want.
I want freedom. To be free of the whole basket of face masks that I said I was going to use on “Saturday” since last year. To be free of the Dominos coupons that have long expired. To be free to of the heartache of watching food being thrown out. To be free of the clothes that I will never wear.
In my endeavour of starting fresh in our new apartment, I am only packing up the things that I know we need and would like to keep. Everything else will go into bags and be shared with new owners and be a part of new homes.
It was a bit painful to part with half of my make-up collection, some of my books and all of the nail polish (except the blue, I NEED the blue one), but they no longer have a place in our new lifestyle.
“Are you sure it’s not just a phase” Ashraf asked, half amused, half serious. I am dead serious.
Life is about being better human beings, contributing to the greater good, being content and leading a fulfilled life. “We’re going to start by getting rid of your video games,” I said as I handed him a paper bag.
“No way” he yelled.
I packed half of them and left the rest. He doesn’t need to know.
As assistant to fashion icon Vivy Yusof, journalism graduate Iman Azman finds herself thrown deep into the fashion world, a universe once foreign to her. Here she muses about her work, finding balance in life and shares what it’s like having a front row seat in the fashion industry. Follow her journey on www.instagram.com/iman_azman/