What do you think of when you hear the word minimalism? You probably think stark white walls, neutral colors of black, white, gray & nude throughout a home and minimal belongings strewn about.
Just a heads up, that’s not my life. Yet, I’m embracing minimalism completely. Living in a minimalistic way has made so many positive changes in my life physically, mentally and emotionally. And real talk? I’m never going back to my old ways.
Let me tell you how I got to where I was before I decided on minimalism.
The farthest memory I can remember that I had an abundance of things was when I first went off to college. There is nothing like a move to make you open up your eyes and look at all your belongings. It was box after box, trash bag after trash bag, trinket after trinket being stuffed into a super tiny dorm room.
I needed to have all of the coolest things and deck my dorm room out every year, multi-colored lights, mini fridges, microwaves galore and all. But it didn’t just stop when I graduated college.
Once I graduated I stayed in my college town, (Kent State Flashes FOR LIFE!) and got an apartment with my S.O. And so now, it wasn’t just my stuff I was fitting into a small apartment, it was also my partners.
You could barely walk without stepping on something, open a cabinet without a plastic container decking you in the face, or open a closet without something flying at you. There was stuff everywhere. And I felt smothered and claustrophobic too. Something about having that much stuff just made me feel like the walls were closing in. But, I was still young and the world says that you need things to feel good and to show others you’ve got your sh*t together.
Fast-forward 2 years & a break up later, my best friend had just bought a house and asked me to move in with her. Yet again, another move under my belt. This time I filled the room with things I thought I wanted. All the colors, pillows, electronics, pictures, rugs, candles & more.
It wasn’t until I decided to sell all of my stuff & move to New York city did I realize how much of those things didn’t matter. This was a time in my life where I was trying to find myself. I wanted to really learn who I was; stop being scared & do something liberating. Moving to New York City will definitely do that for you.
My room in NYC was so small that it didn’t have a closet. My mattress almost touched 3 walls and I had just enough room for my bed, my laundry hamper, a dresser and a mirror. Everything else was under my lofted bed. When I finally left NYC and moved in with my then boyfriend (yep, another move), I had nothing to really take with me. I sold my mattress, bed frame & dresser. Gave away books I never read for free and packed all of my clothes into two suitcases and a few duffle bags. I was coming back home to so much but with a lot less.
It wasn’t until I got my own apartment did I make the decision to do things differently. At this time, I had gone through a period of depression and had moments of anxiety. My mind was constantly running, I was indecisive about things that should’ve been easily decided and I was more unsure than ever of who I was.
What do I like to do?
What do I like to where?
How do I want to dress my space?
How do I want people to feel when they enter my home?
These were questions I didn’t have the answers to. But what I did know was that who I’d been wasn’t who I wanted to be. I didn’t want to be depressed, anxious, unsure of myself and unhappy on my path. I didn’t want to hide who I truly wanted to be with things that I never used or clothes that I never wore. I wanted to enjoy myself each and every day and stop wasting time on trying to make the best decision that everyone around me agrees with.
It was too much. And so I made a conscious decision to strip it all away.
Where I Am Today
I wanted a life that was simple yet, full of all the things I truly loved. And that meant chipping away at all the things I was holding on to for fear of what it meant if I let it go. Letting these things or people go meant I no longer had something to hide behind. It meant that all that was left was putting the puzzle pieces back together of who I truly was and stand in that boldly.
So I started with my closet and sold or donated everything that I hadn’t worn in the last 6 months. Everything else I tried on & asked myself if I truly felt beautiful in that piece. If it wasn’t a solid yes, then it was a no and was sold or donated. Since then, I’ve only added pieces that I love, can be worn for at least a few years no matter the trends that come and go and currently match an item I already have in my closet.
Next, I was completely intentional about the pieces throughout my home. I bought a bed frame and a mattress that I adore. My couch was a hand-me-down from my sister but it fit my décor perfectly and I really liked it. And my TV stand works great with the other pieces in my apartment and fits great in the space. Everything has a purpose, is functional and gets used frequently.
And lastly, my favorite space in the house, the kitchen. I only keep on hand what I need. I don’t have a lazy Susan full of spices that I never use or a cabinet full of non-perishables sitting and waiting for the perfect recipe. I want to know that I have what I need and nothing more. Sure, I keep a can of coconut milk stocked in the pantry but that’s because I know it will get used. But I don’t buy that spice or ingredient just because it’s on sale and I may need it someday down the road.
Thinking Of Going Minimalist?
If you’re thinking of going minimalist I just want you to consider a few things before throwing out all your clothes, moving into a smaller space & cutting ties with relationships.
Minimalism for me isn't a trend or something cool to try on. It's a mindset and lifestyle that has lifted a weight off my shoulder and mind that I've been carrying for too long. With less "things" I now have a clearer perspective on what certain items mean to me. I also have a clean slate to start finally crafting the type of life I've always wanted. Minimalism has given me the mental freedom so that I no longer spend hours on deciding what to wear and rather more time living in the moment. Minimalism has shown me that what matters is the conversations, relationships, feelings and moments - not the act of buying things out of feeling like that's what I "should do."
Before taking the next step, think of places in your life where you need a bit more space and clarity. Where are you spending a lot of your mental energy? What in your life can be made simpler? What does an abundant life look like to you?
And from these answers, begin chipping away at the pieces and parts of your life that create a roadblock to the type of life you want and the person you want to be.
Over to you! Is minimalism the right fit for your life? Let me know in the comment section below.
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