I used to be a maximalist through and through, I thought there was some kind of prestige in having a shit-ton of things. I have realized through minimalism that the number of things you own doesn’t make you better or worse than anyone else. I am becoming a minimalist because its what is truly comfortable for me.
I grew up in a maximalist home
Growing up I have always been surrounded by stuff. My family home has an office that served as a dumping ground for things we didn’t know what to do with but wouldn’t get rid of (eventually things would go, and more would fill their place). Our garage has a loft packed with things we got when my Great Grandma Lena Died and things my brother and I outgrew. My own bedroom was overflowing with clothes, furniture, and collectibles.
When My great Grandma Helen died and we were cleaning her house, I was hit with the hard realization that some lifestyles aren’t healthy and I was afraid of living like Helen did. My Great Grandma Helen was a hoarder and I saw some of her hoarding tendencies in many of my family members and even myself.
Now there is a big difference between hoarding like you see on TV (Helen fell into that category) and hoarding like many people do. There are different levels of healthy in the things we own and everyone is different. I realized based on my experience at home and cleaning great grandma’s house that there were a few trajectories I could go with my lifestyle moving forward. I didn’t like many of them because I didn’t associate that lifestyle with being healthy. Especially now.
I have never struggled with getting rid of excess things, but I only did it when I ran out of room to put everything. After cleaning Helen’s house I started paying attention to what I would bring home and what I would get rid of regularly. Even though I was almost always in a state of decluttering, I was still bringing in more things than I was removing. My weakness was (and still is) by the pound thrift stores like Goodwill’s as is locations. I would go for a few hours and would come home with the equivalent of what fashion and beauty influences would describe as a haul. I could replace every item in my wardrobe with one of those trips for less than $20, and I already had a lot of clothes.
When I moved for school, I brought maybe 75% of the things I owned with me. I donated everything else, or simply left it in my parent’s basement (which was eventually donated). At that time, I thought I was already pretty organized, but I was always organizing my things.
When I moved in where I am now, my mom, grandma, and aunt supplied me with all of my furniture. I furnished all the rooms in my house and still had more furniture than I or any of my roommates would ever need. I suddenly saw the reality of how much stuff I really had.
What inspired me to become a minimalist
Like I said in my post on decluttering, clutter stresses me out. It wasn’t until I moved that I started to realize the extent of the stress. I was suddenly living in a house much smaller than the one I grew up in but I had more furniture and things to put in it than was comfortable.
The first year or so I moved things around, reorganized, and would occasionally get rid of things that took up space and didn’t serve a purpose or were broken (usually clothes, kitchen items, and knick-knacks). I was constantly trying to organize my things, and it felt like a full time job.
My journey into minimalism actually started with my closet in Fall 2016. I was experimenting with my style and decided I would only have the basics and a few pieces in my closet at a time so I could figure out what made me comfortable and confident. I found inspiration for this process from minimalist fashion YouTubers. I started watching these YouTubers because they had a visual fashion aesthetic that was so calming and clean that I craved to emulate it. This is when I also started paying attention to their lifestyle’s instead of their just their fashion advice.
It wasn’t until January 2017 that I started paying closer attention to other minimalist YouTubers. I was preparing for my trip to Paris at the time and I was surprised that the French fashion and beauty YouTubers had similar things to say about lifestyle that many of the minimalist YouTubers were saying. I really wanted to live simply, be mindful, have some breathing space, and to have less worry about. I thought minimalism might help me get there.
Becoming a minimalist
I decided I would try it. I started with my bedroom. I decluttered a bunch of things from my bedroom over a period of months. I enjoyed the space I suddenly had and started to venture into the rest of the house.
January 2018 was when I hunkered down and really started downsizing and removing excess things from my environment and life. I watched a lot of YouTube, read blogs, and even bought Marie Kondo’s book. I read the Life changing Magic of Tidying Up and purged my life of unnecessary items that I just had hanging around for various reasons.
I think I struggled most with guilt. I had items that were gifts and items that had some form of sentimental value that I couldn’t bring myself to part with. I realized a short time later that I had attached a negative emotion to these items. To get rid of the guilt of not loving the item and wanting to donate it, I needed to just let go of it. I no longer feel guilty about decluttering items. I no longer keep or want items that have negative emotions associated with them. This also helped with my stress. My spaces suddenly had breathing room and I wasn’t holding on to negative emotions or feelings.
This was the first time in my decluttering a downsizing journey that I truly understood the good I was doing for myself. I was removing stress by removing clutter, and I was also making myself happier by only having and keeping things that make me happy. I haven’t truly decluttered in almost a year. I have gotten rid of furniture and a few items since my last decluttering session, but they were a few at a time as was reasonable. I have not felt oppressed by my environment in months. In a way, minimalism has become a form of self care for me.
Now it’s January 2019 and my room feels serene, I love everything in it and don’t feel the need to add more for the sake of having more. I get “more” out of having less. I’m continuing to work towards a more minimalist lifestyle and learning more about myself by finding the things I really enjoy from the process. I’m blogging more than I thought I ever would and I don’t think I would have began without a major lifestyle change. I started blogging in December 2017 just to try it out and a little over a year later, I’m still doing it, I moved platforms, and I plan to continue moving forward with my blog.
In the future, I want my form of minimalism to look like a serene environment, having space for personal development, and living a simple and slow life. I find that with minimalism comes a more conscientious and simple living (something I have craved for so long). I’m finally becoming the person I want to and was meant to be and while I don’t attribute this entirely to minimalism, the lifestyle has facilitated opportunities for me to think about me, and not the things around me. I’m genuinely excited to delve further into this lifestyle.