Once, I thought minimalism was simply getting rid of everything. It was an empty home, sterile aesthetics, and intense simplicity. Of course, who doesn’t think that at first? Most media only talked about the extremists; you know, men who only own five items. Hikers who fit all their belongings in a backpack and travel the world. Acestics who have left society and live alone in “the wild.”
That’s a fun idea and all, and it leads to interesting Youtube videos and documentaries, but that’s not the kind of minimalism I’m talking about.
I don’t mean the influencer-inspired minimalism either. Everyone wearing the same clothes, their homes all looking the same with the newest furniture trend. I mean, it’s lovely to watch, but I seem to hear the same things over and over again. It makes sense, it’s a simple guide for those who have never heard about it before, but it’s so much more than that.
Minimalism is not one thing. I find it’s a lot of things. Specifically, a lot of things working together. And it’s never all the same things; they are different for everyone. I know, you hear that a lot as well. I did. And I wanted to make a list, or maybe give you a few things to think about on your own minimalist journey.
some things to think about
Yes, the Pinterest boards and Youtube channels dedicated to minimalism are sometimes great inspiration. However, ask yourself if you are seeking the aesthetic, or seeking the process. Either is fine, but your answer puts you in a different place, with possibly a different outcome.
Stay with me a moment. I love some of the interiors and closets of Minimalists. They are great inspiration, and they can also be great motivation. They can be a starting point for many, idealizing that visual simplicity and lack of clutter. It’s where I started, and it’s where I also learned.
Suddenly you decide to get rid of all your clothes. All those extra skincare products? Gone. Loose socks, trashed. Jacket you no longer wear? Donated.
That’s great! But now what? The Big Purge is something I’ve noticed a lot of people recommend. I, in fact, am not one of them. The first go-around is exciting. Getting rid of things suddenly feels so good. You want to get rid of everything. Suddenly you want absolutely nothing. Maybe you dream about empty shelves with one curated item on it. Or maybe the small open closet with three shirts and a pair of jeans. Yet something doesn’t feel exactly right. Have you gotten rid of too many things? Not enough? Or not the right things.
We have to take a deep dive here. You have to identify your clutter. You may think it’s all the junk mail on the counter, but ask yourself this: why does this clutter bother me specifically? Why is this clutter in the first place?
There’s no KonMari method here. It’s you and your thoughts. You and your sub conscious. You and your demons. I’ve found clutter is more of a consequence than the problem itself. This is were Minimalism ceases to be a trend. It’s not the clothes, or the objects, or even the aesthetic. It’s the mentality. It’s the process. It’s disrupting the surface to see what is underneath.
What is underneath you?
Are you still with me?
One cannot simplify what one does not know or understand. We have to take some time to understand. You may think you only have too many clothes, but what are these clothes a consequence of? Do you know your own style? Do you like to shop? Do you just never throw anything away? What are you burying underneath your clothes?
I’m not asking easy questions, and I feel like this is where Minimalism as a trend faulters. The focus on the results ignores the important part: the process. You can get rid of as much stuff as you want, but if you don’t know why you have so much stuff, then how do you know you won’t gather more afterwards?
Please don’t think I’m trying to be some kind of “guru.” I’m only sharing what I’ve found in the two years I decided to become more minimalist. I’m not nearly where I would like to be, and I think a lot about simply placing everything in a dumpster and never buying a single item ever again. But that’s only a band-aid to the problem. I haven’t quite identified that problem yet, and that’s okay. That’s what makes Minimalism what it is. A process. A mindset. A way of life if you will. Don’t worry if you feel like you’re spinning your wheels; I feel like that too. A lot.
That’s part of the process. And when you work it all through, you’ll end up exactly where you thought you’d never be. I keep dreaming of those edited collections and a curated gallery wall of only my favorite photos. I don’t even have the space to make such a wall. And I haven’t figured out how to fit all my clothes in my closet yet. But I know why, and if I can leave you with one last thought…
Why do you want to be a Minimalist?