I could be the wrong person to delve into the topic of minimalism, or I also could be the right person to speak on it. Either way, I’ll be sharing my otherwise unsolicited journey towards a life of minimalism.
If you’re not too sure as to what minimalism is; here’s the elevator pitch:
“Minimalism is a lifestyle that helps people question what things add value to their lives. By clearing the clutter from life’s path, we can all make room for the most important aspects of life: health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution.”
-Joshua Fields & Ryan Nicodemus, The Minimalists.
(These guys are the minimalist Gods and I -try- to follow their advice.)
I wouldn’t consider myself a type A archetype but I do like a clean, de-cluttered space and I think that’s where my initial interest for minimalism occured. I’ve grown up in a family where generally the mentality is; all that is bought or given should be kept...forever. There is no expiration date to when such item(s) should be thrown away, donated or sold. We hold on until Drake lets us know ‘We’re going home’.
At this stage of my life, a pre-teen adult, I have decided to unsubscribe from that YouTube channel of maximalist thinking to minimalist living. So, if you're in the mood to make a couple of changes to your apartment, whatsapp contacts, tinder profile- there’s no time like the present. Here’s how I’m struggling...and the ways that you don’t have to.
Terms & Conditions:
There are many flavors of minimalism: a 20 something minimalist will have a different minimalist outlook to that of a 45-year-old mother’s minimalist lifestyle. Even though everyone embraces minimalism differently, each path leads to the same place: a life with more time, more money, and more freedom to live a more meaningful life.
1. How will life will improve if I owned fewer material possessions?
A loaded question but a fundamental question to ask ourselves nonetheless. Personally, I tend to think that my life would be better if I were richer, but I digress. For the most part, life would be more fulfilling if I had less material possessions. The more material things I possess, the more my anxiety tends to hike up and when that happens, I can feel very overwhelmed, stressed out and, dare I say, I turn into the incredible Hulk, otherwise known as to the public as: “an angry black woman”.
Essentially, clutter is unhealthy to me and tends to lead to unhappiness. So, if you can answer this truthfully, in perspective to your own life, achieving a minimalist life doesn't seem as daunting as it did at the beginning of this post.
2. It’s The Easiest Way to Organize Your Stuff
Oh this is one is easy. Get rid of most of it ─ Keyword being most. I started with my clothes. I organized them in “yes”, “sell” and “donate” piles and then sorted my clothing out according to those sections. Anything that falls into a “No” or a “Maybe” category in your head can be donated or sold (provided that these items are still in wearable condition). I have otherwise trained myself to do this every turn of the season as last year’s top trends won't necessarily carry through to this year. Don’t catch feelings with your clothes, or dried up stationary that’s still in that pen holder, or those old magazines collecting dust in the corner of the room.
Which brings us to the next point...
3. Stay Woke
It’s exciting to see how many great resources are devoted to simple living and minimalism.
If you're feeling like a change from the usual Netflix series binge, try watching some YouTube videos and get inspired.
Reading others’ stories and experiences on minimalism is not only inspiring, it also highlights the differences on how different people perceive and embrace it.
4. Letting Go of Sentimental Items
If you’ve ever lost a family member, then you know the feeling of having a hard time letting things that belonged to them go. When my grandmother died, instead of letting go of her things I wanted to cram every trinket, figurine and piece of oversized furniture into my room and any other free space that I had. That way, I knew that if I ever wanted it or needed access to it for some incomprehensible reason, it’d be there. Later on, I realised how my grandmother also spent years keeping stuff she never used or never opened. I’m now hoarding what she used to hoard. Grandma,please!
Of course it was difficult to let go, but I realized that most of the memories I have of her are moments I spent with her as opposed to the things she possessed. Inevitably, I just tattooed her birthday on my collarbone, so that I would never forget. The point is to take baby steps and time when skimming through the nuts and bolts of what's really important and what can be donated (or tattooed).
Understand that minimalism is a process ─ You will not change your life or home overnight. It will take time and you will encounter roadblocks. When you feel yourself getting impatient, frustrated, or fighting your new life change, consider taking a ‘me’ day. Creating new habits takes time. Be patient with yourself and do a check in to ensure that you’re not taking on too much change all at once.
6. There is no ‘right’ way to do minimalism
There are no minimalism police. You won’t be arrested for calling yourself a minimalist but owning more than 100 things. *fake gasp* Minimalism is what you make of it. On the 'stuff' aspect of minimalism, for me, it's to reduce the amount of things in my life to point where I feel comfortable, not deprived.
7. Embrace Your New Way of Life
Yay! You’ve laid the mental groundwork, done the decluttering, now it’s time to embrace the life you’ve created. Minimalism is so much more than a clean house. It’s about creating a fulfilling life minus the ‘stuff’, the fear and the anxiety. Be mindful, don’t compare and remember that this is your life ─ Do what works for you. Don’t get caught up in the trap of perfectionism. Life will never be perfect, it is what you make of it. If you choose to live with less, be happy and intentional, hang onto that.
I’m probably still at the third step of this journey but eventually I’ll reach my minimalist goal post and you’ll get there too.
Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.
By Fika Msengana
Published by Niyaal Rakiep