Minimalism started out as a way to help me declutter my things and help me become more satisfied with the life I have. But this year, it became a mindset that I decided to embrace so I could start living my life without the burden of past purchases weighing me down.
I was still slowly decluttering my college room when the pandemic hit and I had to fly back to my birth country. I packed some of my summer clothes and essentials in a big suitcase and carry-on, leaving everything else in its place. I vowed to continue decluttering once I got back, but now… it appears that I won’t be going back at all.
This realization was hard to stomach, because the things that I have in that room were things that I had purchased because I believed I needed them in my life. They were things I gradually collected over the 2.5 years I lived in college. But now, I have to sell most of my things by the end of the month, so I can pass on my lease to the next person and… start my life anew here.
Earlier this week, I was making a list of all the things I have to sell, and it gave me a sinking feeling imagining all those things still in my room, waiting to be pulled out and moved somewhere else. It saddens me that I can’t even be there to pack up my things, and it’s upsetting that I don’t have a room to go home to anymore.
But I am also taking this as an opportunity to realize that the things I have back in my room are all replaceable, material things that didn’t necessarily bring joy into my life in the first place. Some things, like my wooden lap desk, allowed me to make good use of a small corner of my room. But other things, like a pair of boots I bought years ago, just made me feel more guilty everytime I saw them and knew that I wouldn’t wear them.
The truth is, I need way fewer things in my life than I thought I did, and I believe the same applies to you too.
This is a change that is helping me understand that my ‘need’ to buy more things are nothing more than fleeting emotions that I will no longer feel in a few hours. We can be really good at knowing how to feed our short-term emotions with new clothes and good food – but we are poor at telling how conceding to these emotions can affect us in the long-run.
My short-term emotion told me to buy those beautiful boots because they looked good on me at the store. But that emotion failed to consider whether I would actually wear them, or even like them a month, a week even, from then. I gave in to those short-term emotions because I didn’t think that far into my future. I wasn’t even considering how I would be feeling a day from then. And there is nothing wrong with that – except when it becomes a habit and 70% of the things you own start collecting dust in the back of your drawers.
Minimalism is most commonly associated with the physical act of decluttering, but its most valuable effects occur within us. By removing those 70% of things that I don’t use from my life, I open up space in my life to pursue things that would otherwise have been clouded by things literally cluttering my life.
These are just some of the reasons why you might want to consider minimalism:
- By realizing that the cravings you get when you go shopping are just that – cravings, you might just suffer a little less every day. We all have many items in our homes that we rarely or never even touched – proof that our short-term dopamine-wired selves are not always great at predicting what we need for the long-term.
- When you adopt minimalism, you create an invisible limited list of things that you can have – and it will make you very selective about what you bring into your life. It may sound restricting, but it can help in making you more conscious and less instinct-driven on your purchasing choices. We love a conscious consumer.
- You regain your sense of identity, one that is not defined by your clothes or things but by the actions that you do and the values you live by. By not joining in the race of consumerism, you stop basing your self-worth in your material gains, and start finding them elsewhere.
- You might just find yourself not comparing to others as much, because you are not even part of that race anymore. And with time, you won’t even feel the need to compare yourself to others, and this, this has been very freeing for me. I have always been an insecure, people-pleasing girl (and I still am), but at least I’m not comparing my wardrobe choices to that of anyone I see on Pinterest.
- By reducing your options and lessening your need to compare to others, you reduce your mental overload. You no longer feel the guilt of not wearing that new pair of shoes from 3 months ago, nor have the burden of the tech gear that you never ended up using. I believe this sense of guilt over our belongings is widely experienced, and minimalism is here to prevent that guilt from even kicking in in the first place.
- The minimalist style is timelessly classy: simple, functional and with soothing colors, this style is here to stay. Personally, I chose to start dressing in black, white, nude and pink – with occasional pops of color – and I find peace knowing that these clothes will last as long as they are made to last.
- By reducing your things, you buy time for yourself. With fewer things cluttering your home and hiding in your closet, you spend less time chasing after the things you have; you don’t need that long to clean your home or find an outfit to wear, and you might just find yourself with more time to do other, less material-based, things. How surprising.
- You save money (duh). Financial freedom can be empowering, and it is one of my goals this coming year. Understanding the value of money and my work is something that I want to become educated in, so that I can devote more time to hobbies and things that make me happy, without finances being a barrier in my success. Minimalism won’t earn you more money, but it can teach you to be a more conscious spender.
- You start to realize that the world is your home. Personally, this means that, whenever I go window shopping and find something that I just adore, I treat that shop as an extension of my home and find comfort in knowing that. I might pick up t handbag and see how it looks on me, only to put it back later and know that it will still be there shall I want to look at it again tomorrow. I might go to the bookstore and peruse over the books for a few hours, without them taking up any space in my personal home. By treating the world as your home, you can continue finding treasures but still keep your space burden-free.
- Experiences will always top material things. Think back to the happiest, most lively moments in your life – they are bound to be experiences, with people you love, doing things that shaped you in some way or another. There’s a reason they’re moments and not things in your life – we rarely reminisce about that “thing” we didn’t buy, because in the long, long run – they really don’t matter.
- Minimalism is the most disaster-proof way to live your life. If there were a natural disaster today, and all your belongings – including your home – were destroyed, would you be crushed beyong despair? I’m not saying there is anything necessarily wrong with investing your finances in material gains, but it is not necessarily the right way to go, either. We live in such a consumer and material-driven society, it seems almost bizarre to not want to invest in real estate or things when you have the means to. But just ask yourself it that is what really aligns with your goals and your future.
Personally, I have found myself in a time where embracing minimalism can help me adapt better to the changes occurring in my life right now. But beyond that, it also aligns with my more long-term, wanderlust goals. I want to live in different countries, move into new homes every year or so, and not feel like I’m held back by my belongings. As a 20-something year old, I want to feel free to pursue my values and my goals, and adopting minimalism is my way to achieve that.
You don’t have to be a ‘minimalist’ to do any of these things, just like doing these things don’t necessarily make you a minimalist. But aligning my goals with minimalist values and limiting my options accordingly has been genuinely freeing. Minimalism may just be the trend that will last.