When you’re young, tattooed, openly queer, and a woman of colour, it’s difficult to not construe any micro-aggression (or macro-aggression) as relating to one of the above characteristics that make me unique. It’s hard to let things go, not take things personally, and treat ignorant people with more respect than they afford to you. But, alas, I thought, that’s the price of being different.

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Saying Goodbye to an Income Stream

Up until this year, I’ve only ever had one job at a time. The idea that I could make money outside my main employment baffled me. But, since I started this blog, I’ve been able to expand my revenue stream to include 1) money I make from writing under my own name, and 2) freelancing.  These two additional income streams have helped me pay down debt, reinvest in myself, and pay for infrequent expenses such as movers when I moved into a new apartment two months ago.

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Face It: You're Just Not That Good

In February 2007, Ta-Nehisi Coates visited the unemployment office in Harlem.

He had just lost his third job in seven years and had come to the office to attend a seminar on, ‘work, responsibility, and the need to stay off the dole.’ He was thirty-one years old.

At that moment, he second-guessed whether he should quit his dream of becoming a writer and get a ‘stable’ job. After all, he had a young family, and, quite understandably, he felt that pursuing this dream made him an irresponsible father. The stats didn’t look great. He was a college drop-out. He was Black in America. Raised on the streets of Baltimore, he found inspiration from hip-hop. Despite that, or perhaps in spite of that, his wife convinced him to continue honing his craft.

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The Minimalist's War On Wardrobe

There is a crusade, led by conventional minimalists, that need to be stopped. The mission is not focused on a sole person, but rather an idea: clothes are bad. I’m not sure how it exactly started or why it grew steam, but one of the core tenets of minimalism is to pair down all of your clothes into a capsule wardrobe.

Undoubtedly, this was popularized by Courtney Carver, an inspiring woman who, after being diagnosed with MS, reduced her stress through living with less. Project 333, an initiative she started, has been featured on The Today Show, O Magazine, the BBC, and other mainstream media outlets. The premise is that we often only wear 20% of our wardrobe, and we can easily get by with owning 33 items in your wardrobe.

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I Turn 28 Today: Here's 28 Lessons About Work, Money, and Life I Learned Over the Past Year

I’m officially in my late twenties. Like many other bloggers, I’ve decided to review what I’ve learned over the past 365 days. I created this blog, adopted a Texan dog, began ghostwriting for a client, started a small podcast, moved into a new apartment, read some life-changing books, and paid off most of my student loans. It had much more ups than downs.

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You Weren't Made to Do One Thing

No one emerged from the womb assigned with an intrinsic purpose.

The doctor did not take one look at you and say, with confidence, “You will be a fine race car driver!” or, “I am looking at the forthcoming Youtube sensation of 2030.” Life doesn’t work that way. No baby, child, teenager, or even adult, knows for sure one thing that they are destined to do for the rest of the life, and if they say so, they are deceiving themselves.

The reality is that we make our purpose. It evolves as we get older, acquire more skills, experience more things, and form our values and beliefs.

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Minimalist Living

“We’re so caught up in trying to do everything, experience all the essential things, not miss out on anything important...We can’t read all the good books, watch all the good films, go to all the best cities in the world, try all the best restaurants, meet all the great people...Life is better when we don’t try to do everything. Learn to enjoy the slice of life you experience, and life turns out to be wonderful.” ― Leo Babauta

Minimalism comes in all shapes and sizes. For Colin Wright, that involved selling most of his belongings and travelling around the world. For Courtney Carver, it was embracing a minimalist lifestyle to improve her health (she was diagnosed with MS in 2006). For me, my focus is not so much on eliminating physical clutter - although that’s certainly something I’ve done - but also incorporating a form of mental minimalism into my life. A lifestyle that takes into account all the distractions, interruptions, and needlessly complex processes that I encounter over the course of my day. It’s about simple, deliberate living.

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Incorporating Minimalism

A minimalist lifestyle looks different for everyone. For me, it’s helped me pay down $42,000 of student loans in just over 2 years, lend more of my attention to my loved ones, and set me on a path of intentional living. In the past six months, I’ve felt happy, healthy, and at peace.

While I can’t guarantee that what I have incorporated into my life will do the same for you, reflecting on a few of these things may help provide clarity to your life.

(1) Downsize your stuff. Personally, I donated about 70% of my clothes to various non-profit organizations. I realized that I owned several items of clothing that I hadn’t really worn in months. If I didn’t love it, I didn’t keep it. To prevent myself from accumulation creep, I review the contents of my wardrobe once a month to see if I can get rid of anything more.

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