When you hear the word minimalism what comes to mind? Someone who owns one pair of shoes? Maybe a hippie who lives in a tiny home? How about someone whose home is entirely white except for a few trendy succulents scattered about?
I first heard about minimalism a few years ago when I was in college. I watched a Netfilx documentary, thought it was interesting but didn’t do much about it. Meanwhile I had a dorm room stuffed full of clothes I never wore, books I never read, and a lot of other random crap I had collected over the years. When it was time to move out of the dorms I began to realize just how much ‘stuff’ I had; so much so that it became overwhelming. I find that moving is the perfect time to go through my belongings and assess whether or not I want to pack it up and move it to my new home. I had clothes I hadn’t wore in years, posters that had rips in them, random pictures I never looked at….I was something you LOVED holding on to things but then shoved them in a drawer and forgot about them.
I took a serious look at everything I owned and got rid of more than half of it; books, clothes, shoes, bags, toiletries, makeup, jewelry, posters…you name it. Let me tell you, it felt positively freeing! I suddenly had a closet that was filled with clothes/shoes that I loved and wore. My new bedroom had pictures I adorned that each had a special meaning to me. I was no longer overwhelmed with my belongings.
Many people think that minimalism is just about owning as few things as possible, like it is a competition. But that way of thinking just doesn’t make sense to me. I live in a place that has seasons so I need shorts and pants, I need a raincoat and rain boots; even though I don’t wear these items year round. It would be foolish for me to compare the number of clothes I own to someone who lives in the tropics where the weather is relatively the same all year round.
So how did I start?
I have found that the easiest place to start is in your closet. I take everything out and divide my clothes into three piles:
Keep pile: I wear this all the time and absolutely love it.
Donate pile: I literally can’t remember the last time I wore this, it’s cute but I’ve never liked the way it fits, covered in stains, or I honestly forgot I owned this.
Not sure pile: this is for everything else that doesn’t fit into one of the two categories above.
I then put everything I want to keep back in my closet, bring the donate clothes to Goodwill and leave the “not sure” pile out in my room. After a few weeks go by I reassess the not sure pile. If I ended up searching through the pile for something in particular I keep that item. But if I haven’t touched it in the last month then I donate it. It’s as simple as that.
Because I have different clothes for different seasons, I go through this process every few months. It wouldn’t make sense for me to go through my winter clothes in the middle of summer because no matter how much I love my think sweater I’m just not going to wear it.
The key is to start out small. We become so attached to inanimate objects that it can be difficult to part with them, even if we no longer use it. While some people may have no problem getting rid of all of their clothes, for others it can be a truly emotional process. To avoid getting rid of something that actually adds value into your life, you can hold on to your “not sure pile” for a few weeks longer. When you go through it think deeply and honestly about why you want to keep it. Does it hold a special memory for you? Do you love the way it feels? There is NO WRONG ANSWER! There are no rules to minimalism (at least I don’t think so) because it is truly a personal experience. Some people will innately have more objects than others simply because they feel that these objects add value to their life.
I own multiple pairs of shoes, I don’t live in a tiny home (though I’m certainly not opposed to it), and my room is full of color. Clothing/shoes is an easy way to start reassessing what you want in your life. Once you are able to do this going through all other belongings becomes increasingly easier. Next move through your house room by room and see what you have that no longer serves you. Somethings I own purely based on their usefulness, others it is because I admire their beauty.
This is not meant to be an in-depth post on how to start minimizing your own belonging, but rather just my personal story. Have no fear, full minimalism blog post to come soon!