Thoughts on Minimalism

| Minimalism

Minimalists are the new vegans in the sense that they’ll never let you forget that they have a unique and interesting lifestyle. So I’ll try to keep this blog entry as sufferable as possible.

I have very personal confessions to make…

One, I was named after Stevie Nicks. And two, I’m a minimalist.

If you’re anything like pre-January 2017 me, you probably picture minimalists as stoic individuals who have a small and empty apartment void of furniture or artwork. They probably drink water and eat salads all the time, too. Or even worse, they wear oversized glasses and consider their dying cactus a pet (wait, that’s true for me).

I began dabbling in minimalism in January after a week back home in Houston for Christmas break. During that break, I watched a documentary on Netflix about minimalism and ready The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (linked below). I was basically like that person who watches one doc about how animals are treated and all of the sudden they’re a vegan.

I call my version of minimalist “Practical Minimalism,” which is just a way of saying I only have things that I use regularly or that I love. “Use regularly” has some flexibility, because I do have camping equipment stored away that I don’t use that often, but for most purposes, it means on a daily or weekly basis.

If a die hard minimalist were to come into my apartment, they would probably scold me for displaying my first license plate on my bookshelf because “no one should hold onto junk.” But I admit that I do still have artwork and collectibles that I either got from a trip or that I bought from an independent artist. My cactus, thanks for asking, is from the Home Depot.

There are a couple of reasons why I really enjoy my minimalist lifestyle:

  1. Less anxiety: At 22 years old, there is a lot of pressure to be as successful as my friends and peers. Get a great job, lease a nice car, buy a dope apartment, buy stuff to fill that apartment, and go on trips to places with beaches (I hate beaches). I don’t feel as much of that pressure anymore because I made the intentional decision to not participate in the race of possession accumulation. There are still things on my wishlist, but not as much as there could be.
  2. Less distractions: I’m a procrastinator, and when I have a deadline coming up, I find ways to distract myself. Before it was cleaning my entire apartment because it felt too cluttered. Now, my space rarely feels cluttered because I have less stuff.
  3. Easier mornings: Do you know how easy it is to get dressed when you wear the same uniform every day and have those pieces in only a few variations? The answer is, very easy. It also makes it super easy to pack for trips. If the mob was after me, I could be gone in 10 minutes.
  4. An appreciation for what I have: I’m still not the best at gratitude, but I have found when you have less, you become more grateful for what you do have. If you’re not grateful with little, what will make your grateful with a lot?
  5. Better sleep: Part of this means I removed the television from my bedroom. I sleep like a two year old after a long day at the zoo.

Common questions and answers about minimalism

Do I miss the stuff?

Nope. The week after I minimized my belongings, I looked around and realized that I hard forgotten about most of the things I used to own. I didn’t miss the clothes I gave away, because I didn’t love them. I didn’t miss the papers and random items I threw out, because I never used them.

Isn’t it easy to be a minimalist when you’re not rich?

While it’s true that it is easy to buy less things when you’re not rich, it’s also harder to give up the things you already have. Because I’ve made this intentional decision about where I commit my resources, I don’t feel the urge to, for example, go into debt to buy things to impress people I don’t like.

Is this the next millennial trend?

Observing the rate in which millennials are going into debt to buy stuff, I’m guessing not. But if millennials were to take up a new trend, at least this one is better than buying toast with overprice toppings.

How are you a minimalist when you own such a large couch?

I will admit that my couch is more than I myself need. If I was a real minimalist, I would have one IKEA armchair and nothing else. But I humbly admit that I am a elfish minimalist, and I need a long couch for luxurious naps and occasional game nights.

If I wanted to, I don’t know, try minimalism, where should I start?

Great question. I would recommend starting with the easy stuff such as clothes you haven’t worn in a year, items you’ve had stashed away since forever, and multiple duplicates of items. Whatever you can donate, do that. If it’s not something that someone else can get use of, throw them out and make your garbage collectors suspicious. Bonus points if you clean out your file cabinet by digitizing all of your documents.

Contrary to the way many minimalists treat the lifestyle, it’s not about being more enlightened or wiser than those who have a lot of stuff. For me, it has been a way to minimize external stressors and calm my anxiety. It’s also become an opportunity for financial stability and emotional happiness for me as I’ve begun focusing more of my fiscal resources on experiences rather than things.

Whether or not minimalism is for you, my hope is that people take away the message of prioritizing people and experiences over things. If you’re interested in more on the subjects, I’d encourage you to read these following books and blogs: