A few days ago, I’ve worked on something for several hours on my computer and I was quite pleased with the result of my hard work. Unfortunately a few hours later I’ve accidentally overwritten that file and so I lost the original content. Just like that, it was all of a sudden forever lost, god-knows where. I was being inattentive for one millisecond and that has cost me several hours of my day/life. It wasn’t like I have written the most important thing ever, but it really hurt me that I’ve put so much time and effort in making something for hours to go vanish in a brief moment. I know it shouldn’t be such a big deal, but I couldn’t help myself to desperately try to recover that file, that one file, alas unsuccessfully.
One time I completely lost the content on my phone and I don’t know how I managed to get over that loss so well, but I did somehow. I accepted the loss of many photograph memories and digital notes. Although I remember being very upset about it all, I really remember being mostly sad about one specific photograph, still till this day I don’t understand why that’s the case but I assume it meant a lot to me at that time for its sentimental reasons.
I found out that if you lose digital photographs of a souvenir, the memory won’t be taken away from you, such as the actual experience of it all; capturing pictures, remembering the day and even looking at the pictures for some time, therefore the loss of those pictures shouldn’t be so upsetting. The goal of an event is not accumulating pictures but actually experiencing what occurred that day. Therefore losing a digital token of that day won’t deprive you from that occasion. On the other hand when it’s actual work you’ve lost, it feels like you’ve been robbed of your time. The actual goal of your input in this situation is the result of your work, which is in that case more important than the experience itself.
What to do next? It’s sad but the only thing left is to just accept this. Let go of this unfortunate thing and move on with ‘knowing better, doing better next time’ and hopefully regain the courage to start over. It happened and I lost valuable time and effort, but in the meanwhile; I gained this frustration with the need to type down this piece of my personal reflection upon the matter, I also gained the understanding of digital loss a little more and I got the rework on whatever I was working on; not making it better nor worse, just make myself stand strong and keep moving forward with it all, which is in my opinion more rewarding that anything.
I was in hurry when I found this leaf. It was a very rainy day and I was going through a rough period in my life. Sure as hell I wasn’t expecting anything good to happen that day. While running towards the subway station I noticed a bright green ginkgo leaf soaked in fresh rain water. I stood still and picked it from the ground. To me it couldn’t be a coincidence to come across a ginkgo leaf in the middle of nowhere -a plant that holds a special meaning in my heart-. I held this leaf with both my hands and felt reassured doing so. Finally, I could smile again. This leaf reminded me to stay strong and have faith in me and the universe. And I knew everything would end up being okay.
While decluttering some of my emotional belongings, I came across this thing. It made me think about the sentimental value we add to stuff. I know it wouldn’t be a sentimental item if I didn’t have add this story to it, because on its own it’s just a simple leaf like any other. And I see now that to us personally many objects aren’t always what they are, but simply what they represent and the stories they hold.
As a striving minimalist, I challenge myself to let go and detach myself emotionally from things that add no value in my life anymore. I aim to use things as tools that can be helpful to me in a practical way and help me grow as a person. I think it’s okay to hold on to some emotional objects, but for me personally I would like to let go of that and let those items rest to the past. And I noticed how writing this story down and taking a photograph of this thing already helped me to let go of it. Letting go isn’t as easy as physically removing it from your life, it takes actual effort to say goodbye to the memories.
I postponed dealing with my clothes for as long as I possibly could. I wasn’t quite ready yet to tackle the core of my cluttering issue, but I knew I would have to come back to my closet eventually. Cleaning my closet had absolutely nothing to do with clothing, instead it was a hard self-confrontational experience that opened my eyes about my self-perception.
Digging into my closet gave me a clear perspective about the way I see myself and the way I carry myself.
Every piece of clothing in my closet had a deeper story than just being clothing. At a moment it felt like looking at a historical museum; reviewing my self-image throughout the years and how that manifested itself through fashion.
After I finished reading The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up, I thought I knew exactly how I would handle my mess. That is until I actually started doing so. I’ve been so preoccupied with the ultimate goal of tidying up that I almost forgot to experience the journey itself. Luckily for me, I couldn’t reach my goal and therefore I kept falling back to square-one every single time. This made me feel defeated so many times but I knew I had to keep trying. I don’t know if I am the one actually struggling to follow the decluttering rules, all I do know is that I found myself into many phases of procrastination and denial. Now I’ve come to realize I wasn’t helping myself at all.
Here is where I got it wrong.. (and if you’re reading this: I suggest you to do exactly the opposite of all this:) – I wanted to take baby steps and therefore I didn’t feel the need to absolutely decluttering all at once, sadly this made me feel unsatisfied with even my smallest progress. I didn’t want to ask myself “does it spark joy” every time I held something in front of me, instead I was focused on what to keep and what not, ending with just mediocre choices. I was too lazy to put everything from one category in front of me, but this way I couldn’t see how much stuff I owned and therefore I wasn’t aware of the amount. I couldn’t start dealing with my clothing, thus I went straight to other less-emotional categories, but that just made it all worse.
I understand now more than ever;
a skill is only learned while practiced, not just by reading.
I have found myself in a negative decluttering mind-space: it didn’t do what I had envisioned in mind. After peeling off some layers of what isn’t important to me I found myself questioning where I was going with all of this. Downsizing my stuff made me focus upon what needed to go or what made me so unhappy and I could only see the massive shit everywhere: the stuff that surrounds me, the things/thoughts that suffocate me. I realize now I’ve been doing it wrong. I started with the basic method of decluttering: selecting what I didn’t need anymore, separating it from what I wanted to keep and another pile of things undecided. When I created the pile of what wasn’t working for me, I was instantly distracting myself with the thought of what to do with this mess: sell, donate, recycle or dump? Therefore I was only focused upon what needed to go. When I looked at the quantity of all things, I lost the confidence of ever ending in a place/time where I felt happy about the things that remained and what was left of me.
I know now I should reverse my strategy: Instead of asking myself ‘what can I get rid of?’, I should ask myself only one question: what do I truly want to keep? Maybe this will save me time and cut right through the bullshit of downsizing and go straight to the minimalist point of view of doing things. I’m far form reaching a more zen state of being, but I am still happy I have found what didn’t work for me. Now I can start with this new approach and see what it does for me. And hopefully this enables me to see what gives me joy instead of what isn’t.
One tip I wish I could have given myself some time ago: when you read the reviews of an online seller do not read the positive reviews, only read the bad ones. Some sellers will hack their reviewing system and therefore the bad reviews should get more attention than the positive ones.
I have been scammed, simply because I overlooked the bad reviews and was too naive to chose to believe only the good ones because they were the majority of the comments. If someone writes a bad review, it will mostly be true, especially when it comes to the seller’s service or friendliness.
When you start to approach a minimalist lifestyle, the first change you go through is to declutter yourself from everything you don’t need anymore. First it is the physical space in your home (getting rid of everything that does not spark joy and distracts you from achieving your wishes in life). Then it becomes the mental and emotional self (freeing yourself from bad habits, harmful relationships, negative mindsets, stress..) Finally you’ve managed to make room for what matters to you and you able yourself to be fully in charge of your own life choices. When applying the skills of decluttering and minimizing to everything you do on a daily basis, you will gain more; time, focus, space, money, awareness, freedom, joy.. and experience less; stress, distractions..
It is hard for me to call myself a true minimalist yet, but it is definitely my way of life. I know am going there, but today I am still in the first process of decluttering myself. In the meanwhile I’ve already seen many positive changes and thus far I’ve gained great experiences and knowledge. While I share some bits of my journey with you, I wanted to talk about a specific problem I have been dealing with while tidying up.
As an ecologic minded person, I have felt very restricted in enabling myself to toss things away and declutter without guilt. Sure it is okay to donate books and stuff that can be reused, but when it comes to items that will most probably get tossed into to trash because nobody will get a use from it, it’s very heartbreaking to realize how much waste you are adding to the landfill. I don’t think I am that much of a hoarder but the amount of stuff that I kept because I didn’t know where it could end up or be thrown away, has made me think about the impact of my problem upon myself. It has completely prevented me from becoming a better person.. and in order to feel better about myself and make better decisions from now on, I have to accept and forgive myself for the mistakes I’ve made in the past. I am working towards a zero waste lifestyle but for now I have to accept that this includes some waste in the process.