I think that in the current environment of social media, over stimulation and instant gratification we lose our own authenticity. When we think for a moment “I want that” and within the next 30 seconds it’s ordered, and in the mail the fleeing moments of real want are generally lost on us.
When I moved to Macedonia two years ago I was a normal American girl. I got new outfits for every occasion, I “needed” something new every weekend to go out, I saw something online and I ordered it immediately. It was all so instant that when it arrived I found that I generally had forgotten that I had ordered it in the first place, and upon opening the package I wasn’t brimming with excitement and anticipation. It was more “normal” than special. This all had become a way of life for me as I grew up.
It came to an abrupt stop upon entering Macedonia. My new home is a small country, the population doesn’t even reach 2 million. The postal system is like all other government institutions here, complete crap. Buildings and personnel are older than the software they use, break time is more important than customers, and doors are locked for hours on end so employees can smoke, drink coffee and complain about how much better life was in Yugoslavia. During my first year here, this drove me MAD! I couldn’t pay a bill online, get said bills delivered correctly to my mailbox or order from my regular “go to” websites from America. I was in an intense Victorias secret, Nordstrom, Amazon and Ugg withdrawal period. To add insult to my need for retail injury the mall and shops around Skopje didn’t satisfy my “needs.” The clothing in general over here is way overpriced, and the catch to that is that its poor quality! How is something going to look crappy but be expensive??! Oh the depression! Why ME? How do people live like this?!
Let us fast forward a bit to the present day. In the past year I can tell you every item of clothing I have purchased, this being because it is less than 10 items. I say this with such pride that its hard to contain. Being out of the instant gratification, need for more, wasteful life I used to lead has changed me significantly. What I need, what I appreciate, rely on and consume are so different. I don’t buy something new because it’s Friday, I buy something new because something old has worn out, and I need to replace it. I have no desire for a new dress for a birthday party, unless I will wear it to work, and to multiple other types of events. I don’t waste much anymore, and when I am wasteful I am mindful of how to change that behavior in my future, and waste less. This is not to say I look like a girl from “little house on the Prairie” and I’m sitting in my pilgrim dress churning butter, I am still stylish, and on trend just with combinations that I make with what I already have.
As I continue to embark on this journey of “less,” I become more authentic to my own true being. I am so many things, but none of it is defined by material possessions or new outfits. Being placed in an area where it is simply not an option to buy buy buy, allowed me the the time to reflect on why I buy, on what its useful for, on do I really need this? When I really need it, I can always find a way to get it, but 9 out of 10 times that I think I REALLY need something, I wait a week or two and honestly forget all about it. The changes that adapting to this aspect of life in Macedonia is 100% positive. I am no longer the “ideal consumer” that I once was. This was not a conscious choice or change, it was an adaptation of my surroundings. Had I not lived in Macedonia I don’t know that I ever would have embarked on this type of journey, or realized the excess I lived in, or even desired less. Had I not moved to Macedonia I don’t believe I would have tried to get to know myself better, or to understand my true wants and needs.
It’s amazing how “less” has made me authentically so much more.