Skip to content

Back to Basics: Simplicity

Simplicity was a large part of my life. And then it wasn’t.

Growing up in the Philippines meant going to a Catholic school, which meant uniforms and strict rules every day. I was told to embrace simplicity – that’s the way our patron saint lived, after all.

On the weekends, my friends’ outfits became a mash up of all we were so deprived of wearing. Our wrists were piled with bracelets and our limbs were exposed. But we weren’t trying to be racy. We were just kids growing up in the tropics, and it’s impossible to dress conservatively without breaking a sweat.

I then moved to New York and, thanks to my school uniform, I couldn’t really figure out my style. I followed whatever I saw on the Internet and what I saw on my friends. That meant weekly trips to major retailers for some cheap clothes fast. But because these clothes wore down so easily, I found myself having too much and not enough at the same time.

A few months later, I learned about the zero waste lifestyle. I did pretty well on the zero waste products bit – I made my own toothpaste and my own shampoo, and tried countless deodorant recipes. I even started buying secondhand clothes. But that’s where my zero waste lifestyle started and ended. Other than building a collection of mason jars, I didn’t really do much else to add to the “zero waste” name I wanted to make for myself.

The next two years brought a few more obstacles. I had a horrible breakout caused by an infatuation with the 10-step Korean skincare routine. I lived in Madrid for a semester, which was difficult in terms of consuming less. When I moved back to New York, I found a larger apartment to live in, but I didn’t know what to do with all the space. It was so overwhelming that I end up not doing anything about it at all, except add clutter.

And then, I learned about minimalism. It’s a concept not new to me, but I guess timing is everything. Now, I feel like I need minimalism forever and always.

I’m in no ways minimalist or zero waste – just yet. I’ve gotten to a point in where I know so much about these lifestyles that no information is new to me. The only way to move forward is by implementing these lessons. Tomorrow, I’m going to start The Minimalists’ 21-Day Journey to Minimalism, and I’ll be documenting all that here. Reaching zero waste will come at a slower pace but a progressive one, which I’ll be documenting, too.

These past four years, I’ve veered away from my conservative Catholic upbringing. While I no longer see myself as religious, I still hold the Catholic values I grew up with close to my heart. The next value I’ll be welcoming back to my life is simplicity. Isn’t it funny how life always takes you back to where you started?