For the past couple of years I’ve been trying to live a more minimalist life, but I have to admit, I’ve been failing quite dismally at it. Well… when I say minimalist I do mean it in every sense of the word, where I basically remove things that aren’t truly important from my life so I can focus on the things that increase my joy. I decided to lean towards minimalism because I had come to a point (about four years ago) where I felt like I was carrying too much. I felt like I was being weighed down by a lot (physically, emotionally and mentally), and that these things had began to take up so much space in my life that I was in a sense being buried underneath it all. So at the most basic level, it was something that I needed, even if only at that time. And I guess as far as the emotional and spiritual parts of that journey goes I’ve faired okay since then, because I tried to be intentional about what I let into my sphere of joy. I’m no expert at it yet, I still get caught up in dealing with the unnecessary, but over the years I’ve definitely grown very impatient for it; be it friendships, where I put my time, and what I expend my emotional energy on, I’d rather not do it if it has no benefit to me especially in regards to my health and happiness. So through it, I seek to, as Gugu said in her last post, focus on what grows and nurtures me. But the minimalism I’m talking about here isn’t really this kind.. it’s the actual stripping down and getting rid of stuff kind, the kind that frankly I have no idea how to do.
I guess my first and only problem is that I really don’t think I have anything to get rid of. When I look at the things I have around me I can always find a use for them; if it’s not an immediate use, there’ll definitely be a use for it somewhere in the future. For example there are a couple things I have that I’m only keeping so I can give to my kids one day. I sure as hell don’t need crop tops, but my kids can use them as pyjama tops right? That’s a use, and once my mind has found a use, the thing stays, because at that point, I obviously need it. I also know there are things that I haven’t used in some time, which in reality should be exactly the things I get rid of, but, you guys can’t deny the feeling of finding something you haven’t seen/used/worn in a long time. It’s like finding treasure. What was once lost has now been found, and oh what a feeling. Now my mind is all OMG, my top! It was my absolute favourite. I have to wear it tomorrow. Surely I’m not the only one. It’s basically like you’ve just been given something new, and who in their right mind gets rid of new things? Then, there’s also that instance when you’ve only ever used/worn the thing once and you find it after months of it hiding somewhere in your cupboards. Are you really now going to give it away because you have only used it once? I’m sure a good use of the money you spent to get that thing would be to actually use it again. So, naturally you keep it because at that point you obviously need it. Then there is also knowing that even though you haven’t used something in awhile, they serve a purpose. For example, don’t we all have that pair of jeans that don’t quite fit anymore, but we keep because we use them as our motivation to lose weight, knowing someday we will fit into them again? I have several of those. And it doesn’t feel quite right to just throw away items I use for motivation, otherwise how else will I be motivated? How else will I know I’ve reached my target weight if I’ve thrown away all the clothes that don’t fit me anymore? It doesn’t make sense, and so herein lies my conundrum, I’m unable to strip down because I simply don’t have anything to get rid of.
But regardless, this week I found myself just itching to get rid of stuff. I don’t know if it’s been constantly hearing about Marie Kondo’s Netflix series, or that it’s a new year and that in itself just calls for some kind of decluttering or that I recently discovered that I actually have no where to keep my things anymore (especially my clothes). But something has made me want to take another look this minimalism thing, and try again, because I truly believe (even as far as the emotional and spiritual parts are concerned) there is something powerful in simplifying. It gives us the opportunity to appreciate, enjoy, and participate in what’s happening in front of us. To slow down, to be grateful. I guess my issue has just been in not really being able to define what minimalism actually is to me, because Lord knows there are just so many definitions out there. In the beginning, for me, when I think about the physical aspect of it (particularly with getting rid of my clothes) it was about completely stripping down, having a capsule wardrobe (basically a small selection of clothes where everything can work with everything) that consists of only neutral and monochrome shades. Sounds ambitious? I know, it was, because that really meant getting rid of everything I owned save for only a few pieces. I’m also not really one to gravitate towards bright colours anyway but as I write this I am wearing a multi-coloured dress that by the sounds of it should have been gotten rid of a long time ago. So, of course that was a fail. It’s still #goals, as in one day I will have myself such a wardrobe, but, given the amount of times I go shopping (barely) and the amount of things I had (a lot) it would have only been a disaster. I wouldn’t look trendy at all, I would look poor.
So next I thought fine, maybe to begin with, let me just be normal and just get rid of things I don’t use. I don’t have to strip down completely, but I can do a bit of a spring clean once every season. By the way, for us, that’s two; Summer and Winter. Don’t let them lie to you about this Spring thing. “Spring” is at most a week; so it’s a period, not a season. Anyway, I digress. This method has worked better for me in terms of getting rid of a few things, but if I’m being honest, I don’t feel like it has simplified my life at all. I still feel like I have so much stuff, like somehow the things I gave away morphed into different things in the middle of the night and filled my wardrobe right up again. I just don’t seem to be creating any space, and because it took so much effort deciding what to get rid of in the first place, I don’t rush to do it again. The part of me that thinks to give my wardrobe another once over goes to sleep and whatever has morphed itself in my cupboard stays. And this is where I find myself today, having last gotten rid of things in 2017.
Since none of the approaches I’ve taken have worked I’ve decided that for now, as I get a handle on trying to simplify my life in all ways, maybe my definition for what minimalism/being a minimalist is, is just cleaning out. I know it sounds a little obvious given what I am trying to do, but with this definition there is no “so that…” attached to the end of it. I’m not cleaning out so that I can have a capsule wardrobe, or cleaning out so that I can make room for more things, or so that I simply become a minimalist. I’m just cleaning out period, and hopefully from there I will begin to understand what being a minimalist is for me. And like I said, when I say minimalist I mean it in every sense of the word, and while I feel like I have taken some strides in some aspects, maybe what cleaning out will do is start as an external journey (giving away things), and lead to something that will become even more personal and meaningful. To where “things” are not just the physical things I’ll be giving away but also stress, worry, expectation, etc. I’ll be cleaning all this out, and keeping instead the things that add the most value and joy to my life. Maybe it won’t necessarily be about having less (because I know minimalism can stretch to such extremes) but about making space to discover what (in my space) is important. I love this quote by Juliet Schor:
“We are too materialistic in the everyday sense of the word, and we are not at all materialistic enough in the true sense of the word. We need to be true materialists, like really care about the materiality of goods.”
And I have to agree, because overall it boils down to the value we place on things. I want to clean out the things that don’t add value and keep those that do, to essentially love what I have, material or otherwise.
What are your thoughts of minimalism? Also brb, I’m going to start cleaning out my closet.