• Gabriela Dittrichova

A life without anything can be everything

The greatest possession we have is not a property, a vehicle or a garment. It is autonomy. Many millennials perceive independence as the ability to make unrestricted choices, to learn from failures, to challenge stereotypes. We don’t follow a given path, we make our own. In many ways, this lifestyle seems scary (it very much is), but for increasingly more of us, it is the best decision we could have ever made.

Recently, I tried to explain to a relative why would I give up a large monetary donation (call it inheritance) just to protect my freedom. He didn’t understand how could this gift limit my independence if I could easily get a flat and a person to maintain it. This would mean an income flowing regularly into my bank account without having to move a finger. Why, on earth, would I say no to such a ‘generous offer’?! Wasn’t financial freedom what we all wanted? Wasn't it? Nope. Not for me.


Owning something is a burden I tend to turn down. I willingly decline the offers of our consumerist society to buy more, consume more. Instead, I try to reduce my consumption to the bare minimum, shopping only for things I need and try to buy everything second hand.


Minimalist lifestyle hunts me everywhere I go. I scrapped my beauty routine, from 20 products to three: soap, coconut oil and toothpaste, and make-up routine from tons of products to mascara, eyeliner and concealer (plus trying to use up all the lipsticks I already own). Similarly, my wardrobe has undergone a refresh, my bookshelves are much lighter and, hopefully, our local charity shops experienced a boom in sales.


The most valuable asset I obtained over the years has been the connections I made with the people I met along the way. Maybe our paths only crossed once, maybe some magical power (or low-cost airlines) brought us together multiple times.


Regardless of how much interaction we had in the past, our presences in each other’s life have shaped who we’ve become - maybe just for a short period of time, maybe for many years that are yet to come. And what's the best thing? I don’t need a physical object to prove the important role they play in my life, I already have evidence - it’s in my pocket (electronically) and in my heart (emotionally). We call them memories - they are the greatest assets you could ever own.


Funnily enough, the one relationship that has been a key definer of my life path has been with a notorious spender (sorry, love!). Someone who is a master at recognising feelings, understanding emotions and pushing the limits. But who also loves shopping. And so what? I never said that my friends have to reflect my values and vice versa. We are similar in some aspects, we differ in others. And that’s the beauty of all of us, people.



I recently watched a TED talk by Orit Dolev talking about the subscription economy. The Israeli technology designer talks about the vanishing need for owning things. We will soon be able to subscribe to absolutely anything, from homes and clothes to foods and transport. And why not? Why should we religiously rely on something physical we don't need if someone else can utilise it instead? I find it absurd relying on physical things. Just give me an iPhone, that's all I need...


Thank you, my friend, for being a wall of strength, a source of inspiration, a well of courage. I couldn’t have done it without you!

And so, as I plan my next big move and enjoy not having to stay at any one place for too long, I pay gratitude to the freedom I have today. I thank my job, my personality, my friends. They are the ones who showed me what’s possible, cheered me along the way and believed in me. Thank you, my friend, for being a wall of strength, a source of inspiration, a well of courage. I couldn’t have done it without you! Not a car, not a house, but a friend is what we need! Let’s love them and treat them right - with love. x


All photo credit: Kertwo K. (@kertwo_com)

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© 2020 by Gabrielle Ditt.

Design Management & Cultures