It’s been about 3 to 4 years now since I first heard of Minimalism. Not minimalism as an art style, but minimalism as a lifestyle wherein you surround yourself only with things that are actually of any use to you, make you happy or make sense to you. Often than not it’s trimming down to what actually matters, but it doesn’t limit itself to tangible material things, it includes many other aspects too.
Minimalism has been back in the spotlight the last couple of years. You’ve seen it in design trends, branding, interior arrangements on Pinterest, fashion and even something as simple as food. I can understand the allure — Minimalism and its avoidance of clutter and the unnecessary puts the focus on functionality and the actual subject.
When I was introduced to the idea, I immediately thought about how radical it was to live with very few things. I grew up in a household where hoarding is somewhat normalized, and a society where acquiring more things is encouraged or even seen as a wealth status. We are exposed to media where the message always leaves us wanting more, as if we do not have enough or do not have anything at all. So to see people live with just their most basic seems liberating and freeing, in a way. To live not trying to impress people, or creating subconscious stress is something.
Now it’s been years since, and I would still not call myself a minimalist through and through but I can proudly say that I have come a long way, and have discarded a considerable amount of things that do not benefit me.
Here are some things I learned and some tips I have about the lifestyle:
Clothes are probably both the easiest and most difficult thing to tackle. About 90% of what I wear is a hand-me-down or a gift from my mom. Despite this, over the years, I have accumulated so much that no matter how many purges I’ve done, I always come up with a box full of clothes that I would rather give away than keep.
- Make it a mission to only buy clothes that are of quality and something that you would actually wear and looks great on you.
- Sales are only great if you can save bucks on an item you actually need or saving up for. Remember that cheap or not, you are shelling out money so better spend that dime wisely.
- Being brutal to myself was the most helpful tool in getting rid of unwanted clothes. If it doesn’t fit me nicely, doesn’t make me look flawless, doesn’t look like something I’d actually wear or is beyond repair, I immediately toss it in the giveaway or trash pile.
- Keep in mind about redundancies when you’re out shopping. Like seriously, who needs 10 pairs of that same black leggings?
- Do a regular clothing purge every now and then. This practice gives you an idea about what’s in your clothing inventory so if you actually need anything to add to your wardrobe, you can easily recall them.
We all have sentimental items. It could be anything from movie tickets, photos, small trinkets, or a dried up rose from your first date. A lot completely disallow themselves of getting emotionally attached to anything, but I personally think that is just unrealistic.
- Some sentimental items are the only way for me to reconnect with cherished memories from the past so it was a bit unfair to keep from myself one good feeling.
- As a solution, I have allowed myself to keep a small box of sentimental items. I have two homes, so back in my home country I have a small tin box of childhood memories like photos, stuffies, keychains and school IDs from before. In here, it’s a thin makeshift envelope that contained all tickets and receipts of things that are of good memories to me.
- Digital declutter. At first, I didn’t really pay much attention to this but since I experimented with a social media detox about two years ago, I became more aware of my “belongings” digitally.
- I regularly go through old and new photos on my camera roll and online storages and try to get rid of ones that are either redundant, doesn’t look that nice after all and/or doesn’t make me feel like anything.
- I regularly delete documents, apps, files and whatnot on both my laptop and my phone. I set a day where I would go over my mail subscriptions and read what interests me. I also put a screen limit for my social media so I do not spend exorbitant hours on there.
- My social media detox from two years ago was sparked by two reasons: (1) seeing other people’s perfect lives made me feel very left behind on my own life and in result, it got me a bit depressed and (2) it made me realize that I spend an enormous amount of time obsessing about my fantasy self instead of actually getting to be my fantasy self.
- Although I still have social media accounts, I have reduced significantly my interaction with it. I do not feel compelled to consistently obsess with other people’s lives anymore, nor do I feel that I need other people to know about my business all the time. The insecurity with perfect internet lives sometimes still appear but I have definitely learned to manage it.
- Oh, and I only follow content now that I actually enjoy.
- Streaming services for music and movies, online newsletters, e-receipts, digital copy of books, digital taking of notes that syncs with all my devices have saved me tons of space and unnecessary paper clutter.
Books and paper clutter. I try to make it a habit to scour the internet for ebook copies of titles I want to read, if not buy them online and keep digital copies of some documents I need instead of printing them and only using them once or not at all.
- I have reduced all my important documents to just one envelope. Everything I would ever need is right there, if not on my computer or phone.
- If it is possible/acceptable for me to just have a digital copy of a document, I would do just that. An example would be airline or bus tickets, coupons, amusement or entertainment passes, receipts, etc.
All other items. My living situation requires me to move around quite frequently, especially before when accommodation was something I need provide for myself. That being said, I had to be able to pack all of my belongings fast and in just a couple of bags.
- Purchase everyday use items in bulk, unless it’s a specialized product like skincare items or makeup where sometimes you might see the need to switch brands or types. For my situation, there are only a limited number of items I can buy in bulk like toiletries since I cannot drag a lot of items around all the time.
Minimalism for me is sort of a fun process because it’s really calming for me to be surrounded only of things I’ve carefully selected that make me happy and that keeps me functioning at my best.
Different people have different approach to this lifestyle, which means there’s no right or wrong way to do it and there’s no ONE way to do it. Some can be as extreme as living on a van with only a hundred items in a backpack or a bare studio apartment with only a mattress on the floor, some eating utensils and a few shirts as belongings. And some can be as light as eliminating unnecessary decor at home, or sharing items of clothing with your husband or sisters, or keeping your budget as minimal as possible. Everybody interprets it in their own way.
Personally, my measure to finally be able to call myself as a minimalist is if I am able to finally trim down my things to the most of what I need. I know myself that there are still a couple of stuff that I want to get rid of but I do not want to pressure myself to do it just for the sake of doing it. I want to use them until they are completely worn down then I will toss them out.
Minimalism doesn’t happen overnight — I think that’s something that a lot of people fail to grasp. It’s a continuous learning and giving process; it’s a lifestyle choice, after all. So if you are interested in jumping in to this, be cautious of that.
I will share more of these tips and personal practices, maybe challenges at some point too, if you guys are interested in it.