When you start to downsize your house and belongings, you will face some challenges. I experienced it myself in a radical way while downsizing to a backpack.

When I moved from Germany to Australia, all my belongings fit into one backpack. Over 4 years I collected so many things that it fitted into a little 3.5t truck. Well, that’s a huge up sizing and not downsizing. Being all by myself in Australia, I felt sometimes very lonely and homesick. I missed my family. While suppressing this feeling, I started to buy more stuff. I was convinced this will make me feel homier. Furniture, office devices, clothes, kitchen items, surfboards, and more. If I build a home with furniture and personal stuff, I won’t be homesick anymore.

I got stuck

I moved many times in Australia and with each move, my homes became bigger. With a bigger home, I needed more stuff. I got to the point that moving started to be very painful and expensive. That was the point when I realized that I am not free anymore. I felt like the stuff is crushing me. I realized that I cannot move whenever and wherever I want anymore. I felt stuck.

This was the point when I understood that I need to downsize. But I loved my stuff. My 2 surfboards, 2 body boards, my skateboard, my 27 pairs of footwear, all my clothes and all my other stuff. However, with all this stuff my life was not free. I was trapped. I was in a hate-love relationship with stuff. I loved my stuff but hated being trapped.

Having that much stuff, I depended on keeping a home base and paying rent or having a storage room and pay for that weekly. This doesn’t go well with my travel soul. At this point, I haven’t been travelling for almost 1 year and my mind was craving to go overseas for a longer time – speaking for months. There was only one solution. Downsizing.

Process of downsizing

True fun story. Exciting 2 months started. I talked to one of my best friend who I lived with at the time. She had no issues at all to give away and sell her stuff. No emotional connection to stuff. How does it work? I felt so sad letting go of all the stuff I have been working for so hard. She told me, ‘It’s just stuff. You can always buy it again.’ With these words in my mind, I went again through all my stuff. I swear needed it all! There was nothing I could live without. At least at this point, I was sure I could not live without my stuff.

I went through all my stuff and packed 1 box of stuff I was sure I could live without. A truck full of stuff and only 1 box to give away? I had a long way to go.

Second try. All the sudden I had a brilliant idea. With a restriction in space, I am forced to have only a few things. Let’s buy a van. I always wanted to travel all around Australia in a van. A car I can live in and only have the stuff I need every day. Well, but I didn’t buy just a van. I bought a Toyota Coaster 12 seater. To make sure my beloved belongings fit inside.

Now, I had to get rid of more stuff. But the motivation was great! I loved the idea to travel around Australia. I went through all my stuff for the second time. This was painful, but I selected lots of clothes, office items and furniture to live without.

But should I throw it away? No. Of course, I wanted to sell these things. I have put my stuff online. But you know what? No result. I have not sold a thing. All this pain to select lots of stuff and now I couldn’t get rid of it. My project was running out of time. I set a date to move out of the house into the van. Last minute, I managed to organize a garage sale. And that day learnt an awful lesson.

Downsizing lesson

The stuff I had emotions for, the stuff I worked for so hard, were worthless to others. Some things were very valuable to me as it was the first table I had while I had no other furniture. The table my friends and I have seated around on the floor while I had no other furniture. Or the bed and mattress I have bought in Australia. I have slept on the floor on an air mattress for over 1 year. This bed and mattress meant a lot to me. All these items were worth nothing to other people. They have seen only stuff. The stuff they hoped to buy for a bargain. This night I was thinking a lot.

Worthless stuff

We collect all this stuff, but it is actually worth nothing. I have spent so much money on it and only 5 months later it’s worth nothing. I was emotionally overwhelmed. This downsizing was so difficult. I had no time to go to a car boot sale every weekend and hope to sell all the stuff over time. I waited too long. I did not know what to do. I felt lost. All the stuff I loved, but it is actually worthless and nowhere I could store it.

One day, I selected lots of items and just donated them to pet shelters and other organizations. To avoid emotional pain, I packed it very fast and dropped it off. I thought, ‘Let’s help others with the stuff I can’t sell.’

After I dropped off the last box, I went back home and went through all rooms again. I realized that I still had too much stuff for the van. It would not all fit in there. I got so overwhelmed by the downsizing project.

I was over it

I just wanted to give up. At this point, my friend felt very sorry for me and offered that I could store couple boxes in her garage if needed. But only for the time, she will stay in the house. For the first time in 3 months, I have seen a silver lining on the horizon. All I had to do is to move into the van and make sure everything fits inside. And I can worry about the boxes later.

But this was not the end. No. Life thought, ‘Hey this was so much fun! Let’s keep up the entertainment. And anyway, this was too easy. She hasn’t learnt her lesson yet.’

Life thought it was fun

This day when I was finishing off all the last packing, I received a call. A friendly lady from the government had a message for me. Due to insufficient documents, they had to refuse my visa. I had less than a month to leave the country.

Wait… WHAT?! What did just happen? A moment where I could only laugh.

Now I had a car, a 12 seater van and again the boxes to worry about before I had to leave the country in 28 days. Additionally, I had to worry about a destination to go, manage my business and downsize to only 1 backpack to travel with.

Surrender and let go

At this moment I had no choice any more. I had to surrender. I had to learn to let go. I had to accept the situation. At the time, I was working on 3 projects (it’s like having 3 jobs). Additionally, my entertainment and marketing business had the biggest events of the year during this month. And as this would not be enough, I had to organize this big move. The last worry I had was the small stuff. I sold all the big items like the cars. Some stuff that belonged to my mum, I have shipped in 1 box back to Germany. All the other stuff I simply gave away. I left Australia with only 1 backpack and 1 laptop bag.

When I arrived in Thailand, I had everything with me I needed. There was even enough space for all my tax stuff I had to digitalize and finish off and a German Dirndl dress – just for fun. These were 3 intensive months of an unexpected downsizing from a truck to a backpack. I had to admit to myself that I could live very comfortably without my stuff. And all the great memories and feelings are within me and are not connected to the stuff.

Moving back to Germany, I bought a few more things, as there are more seasons. But I have tailored a suitable minimalism lifestyle for myself and have never missed one of the things I got rid off. By owning less stuff, I have more free space, less decision making stress what to wear and it’s easier to keep everything clean and tidy. Minimalism and owning less stuff you don’t need and don’t want in your life, increases happiness and inner peace.

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