This is what I learned in my first year of minimalism. After attempting my first year of minimalism, I am more encouraged to perform my second year of minimalism with greater success. Things didn’t always go my way. I had a certain expectation of things, of myself, of how it was supposed to happen. But none of this resulted the way I wanted. Things got even messier. I confronted a lot of personal struggles and it overwhelmed me quite a bit, it almost felt like I was inadequate to even become a minimalist. This image I had in my mind of the minimalist in me was a dream-like goal that seemed reachable within years and years from here. In the meantime I really was aiming to achieve those goals in less than a year. I understand now how it went wrong: I was carried away by expectations and disappointment, resulting in a lack of motivation. But I learned an awful lot about myself. I learned how I got here and why this is the way I responded to the mess: I’ve always been trapped in this state of mind. Understanding this will allow me to move forward and work on my personal journey. Yes, it is very much a personal journey. Many minimalists out there will make you believe that minimalism is always this ray of happiness shining through everything you do, but I’ve discovered: to get there, emotions. will. shake. you. up.
picture source unknown
Here is what I actually learned:
Give everything away (for free or by donation) that has no meaning to you (those things are worthless, so don’t waste your time and effort trying to sell these for a couple of bucks) it will drag you down because the stuff that you want to sell (the stuff that has a certain meaning for you and you are trying to say goodbye to those things) will end up underneath a pile of stuff that is disabling your progress.
Only sell your maybe/confusing stuff. Because when someone reaches out to you to buy this thing, you will really have to face that moment of personal detachment and real self-reflection: Do I need this, Am I ready to part with this, How do I say goodbye. The answer is most likely: say goodbye, hug it, touch the object, have your memories relived. Only sell if it feels right. If this step is too much to take yet: take a picture of that object and put the ‘sentimental’ object away. Maybe collecting pictures is better than collecting things that take up more space?
Stop over-attaching to the past and start living in the here and now. Therefore you will only need what is needed today and tomorrow. Keep what is being used and useful (also what you love dearly). But don’t fall into the trap of ‘maybe I should keep this for… just in case’. Because just in case is often an excuse for not getting rid of some things. Think about ‘how much these things are taking up space and effort to keep them in your home’ in comparison to ‘how easily can I get hold of a new/borrowed/second-hand one if it is really needed’. And the answer to that is: once you only keep what you are using and you get rid of what you aren’t using, you start appreciating the moment in time. Say your hobby has always been painting, but you haven’t been practising this hobby of yours for a long time now: it’s only going to make you feel bad if you keep these objects in your presence, because you’ll be constantly reminded for not doing what you thought you must be keeping up with. Truth is: things change, your hobbies change and awesome fact: they might come back to you later in life. So embrace this flow/energy you are in, let go of what is holding you back from progress and do what feels good now. Let yourself have new interests and let go of old interests (keep in mind: the memories will live on forever), stop believing that those things are the identity of your existence, they are merely a tool of self-expression in the time being. The memories will count and that is what you should collect: collect memories, not stuff. You can do this, on your own tempo and enjoy your journey in the meanwhile.