A pigeon flew into my face, a woman rushing to work in 5-inch heels blindsided me while being particularly un-phased, a man on the street, watching the entire scene fold out, told me to stop hitting pigeons with my head.
My first experience when I moved to New York City, The Big Apple, so they say. I fell in-love with the city and the fast-paced feel of it all. I cried first, for about a month, losing sleep over taxi beeps and sirens, then getting used to the sounds.
They became my nighttime lullaby. I was there for a few years, attending NYU and finishing my college degree, living in a world I hardly remember. The rush, the hustle and bustle, the need to get somewhere else, faster, quicker… it all blended together like watercolors on a canvas.
I loved it, so I thought. I was young and thriving, living in the city people dream of. I was this tiny soul placed on a grid of streets and avenues with a mind that followed the fast-paced beat. I watched people run to catch a bus, grab a coffee at their 15 minute lunch break then head back to the office for more, hail a cab by jumping into the streets of yellow beeps with no shame, and I walked.
I walked a lot because I liked the views and the air. I found a spot outside of my apartment in the lower east side where I could sit in some sort of silence, and I called my mom every week from the empty bench placed there.
I loved New York, yes. I still do. I had this weird relationship with the city, one that made me feel alive, while also opening my eyes. It taught me what I want and what I don’t.
My mind, rushing to keep up with the people around me, slowed when I found silent benches and grass I could walk barefoot on. My apartment was so small that I had very minimal clothing. Shoes? Only a few. Apartment decor? Simple, neutral, not a lot.
I made different outfits out of the same pieces of clothing. I gave away what I never wore to make more room for myself, one of the best things I’ve ever done. No one there had the time of day to notice me, better yet to care what was thrown on my body.
It is so fast-paced, yet it opened my eyes to a slower life. They’re right, you really find yourself there in the city that never sleeps. Some find more, some find less. I, personally, found how to live with less.
How to Live with Less, Selflessly
Selfish wouldn’t be the word to describe making things better for yourself, giving up more for less. If anything, selfless would be the word I choose.
Here are some simple ways to live with less, selflessly:
1. Give away clothes you never wear.
You can donate clothes to numerous places, giving to those in need. You can even give them to someone you know who would wear them. Whatever you choose, you can help someone else out by clearing space for yourself in your own home. Trust me, giving yourself space by clearing out your un-worn clothing is very possible. You will also be able to make outfits quicker—a huge plus.
Give up the cab for the person behind you who is in more of a rush to get somewhere. Walk. After work. Before work. At lunch. On your way home. Take in the fresh air and let your mind unwind. Walking around New York gave me time to think while everyone else was rushing to the next best thing. A simple task, yet so good for the soul.
3. Live smaller, travel bigger.
Cramming my entire life into a tiny apartment gave me a vision of seeing more. I would rather sleep in my one bedroom place and travel the world, see how others live, experience new ways of life. You can make it homey with just the right amount of decor and simple designs. Toss pillows all over the couch and fold a throw onto the end. Call that tiny place home, with comfort. Then go see the world.
4. Less decor, more books.
Fill your empty shelves with simple decor and books. The less unnecessary space fillers you buy at every store you walk into, the more room you have to fill those spaces with books to read. One of the best ways I’ve learned to live simpler and slower is to read instead of scrolling through the social media.
This is very possible when books flood your apartment. Plus, books can create a beautiful look on shelves with the right touch.
5. Open the windows.
Get fresh air in your home, turn the AC off, take in the air you were given. I know, when it’s 95 degrees out this isn’t that easy to do, but maybe on a cooler day give it a try. Give yourself the simplest way to slow down and unwind—fresh air. Take in the frizzy hair and warm breezes that you beg for all winter long.