Why Being a Minimalist Works for Me

As someone who grew up from South-East Asia, I was lucky to have spent my young adulthood in the US. I learned a lot about who I am and who I want to be and how to accomplish it. As an example, I had to learn to live alone the first time while in a foreign country, and I learned that I really really hate washing the toilet but I love doing my own dishes.

As a gamer (zerg rush anyone?) as well as someone with an engineering mindset, I knew what I had to do to get what I want. To minimize all the things that I hate to do or don’t need in order to maximize my resources to do what I want. We as humans have long passed the capacity to be able to sustain our most important needs for survival but society is very good, too good in fact, in making us think we need more, and more.

It works for me because I want to be an entrepreneur. Many of you who are reading are probably in the same boat. Every penny that I make goes to my savings or the nearest liquid investment. Having a house just means that you have a bigger risk to take when you are planning to go out on your own and start a venture.

It works for me because I am environmentally conscious. Every flyer that you did not take from someone on the streets saves a tree over your lifetime (totally just made that up). I have stopped bringing every printout material that I received from conventions, conferences and I always try and put those materials back where others could have picked it up (though my wardrobe is full of those shirts they pass out at tech events. I haven’t bought new shirts since).

I want to urge all of you to rethink about the essentials in your life that makes you happy, then minimize everything else. For many of us, it could be family, friends, a smart phone, a laptop, two pair of shoes, a dozen shirts, 4 pairs of jeans, one set of formal wear, dozen pairs of underwear, dozen pairs of socks, a set of cookingware, a broom, a mop, a towel, a bed, toiletries. You don’t have to extreme of course, just cut more of the shallow stuff out so you can enjoy the things you truly appreciate.


Preferences in Life (so far)

As I was trying to fall asleep at 3 in the morning after 4 hours of code jam, I find my mind wandering about how the future is exciting and the past was awesome, and if I would die now, I would not regret a single bit of what I’ve done so far. Part of the comfort comes from what I’ve learned in life and how it changed me. I figured this would be a good blog entry since I haven’t updated it for years.

I prefer (borderline OCD) not to waste stuff

Coming from Malaysia, I have long despise some of the American lifestyle. There’s just too much waste just for the sake of convenience. Some of these are: zip-lock bags, using paper towels for EVERYTHING, disposable insert-your-favorite-anything-here, etc. This just pains me too much. Therefore I always prefer tuppleware to zip-lock bags, rag cloths or my bare hands to paper towels, non-disposable alternatives. Come on, the Earth will not contain us much longer, my fellow human beings, do something about it.

I prefer a minimalistic and uncluttered lifestyle

Somewhat similar to the above, I have adopted a minimalistic lifestyle. You don’t see much crap in my room, maybe because I’m sick of packing before moving. I used to always be the first to ask for free stuff, now before I buy anything, I would ask myself, will this be useless after a week? Just ordered a pretty small sized projector. It’s portable and not as bulky as a TV, this is great.

I prefer everything to be digital

I guess all my preferences relate to one another in many ways. Kindle books? Check. Credit cards and bank accounts linked to mint.com? Check. This is why I love technology. Good stuff.

Maybe I should just rename the post title to My Minimalistic Lifestyle.


3 lessons from college

Since everyone is graduating but me (long story), I thought I should write on some reflection of my college career and experience. I think there are 3 essential lessons that I learned in college.

1. Perfection comes even in the totality of life

I remember this statement vividly from my professor of upper division writing class (probably one of the most important class a college student have to take). I was struggling in the class due to my responsibilities with AIESEC and on-campus employments. Somehow I always manage to allow myself to start researching and writing my papers just a little less than 4 hours before it’s due. The professor offered an extra credit opportunity which require us to write a submit a 2000 word essay for an essay-writing competition. I remember that one day I walked up to him after class and told him that I would like to maybe try and get that extra credit. I also told him about my situation, my responsibilities and commitment to change people’s lives through AIESEC. He looked at me and said, I was the same when I was in college, I was trying to do too much, but just remember this, “perfection comes even in the totality of life”. I ended up getting a C in his class but that statement stuck with me till this day.

2. Classes do not equip you for success and job security

I almost wanted to say classes do not help at all but that would be an exaggeration. Classes do help, but only to a very small extent. Having talked to many of my peers, even in the graduate programs, I realized that most of the curriculum do not teach practical skills to the students. For example, the Master’s program in Software Engineering did nothing to teach the students on using git. Many of my peers only start to worry that they will not be able to find jobs when they graduate. Yet our classes fail to teach us soft skills that will help us to pitch our skills better. 

3. Not everyone wants to be #1

This is perhaps the most obvious with the most common-est of common sense. However, I can’t seem to fathom why people would not strive to be the best in what they do. A good explanation would be that because less people are going to end up being one than not, it would be foolish to put in an effort. One of my professors echoed this sentiment in his class, I guess I have to agree that we have to accept this and move on. Life is different for all and there is always room for mediocrity to help others to be number 1.


One person in this room is going to be successful, might as well be YOU!


Mom and Dad! I am funny on stage!