What Minimalism Means To Me

November 12, 2015

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I haven’t always been a minimalist and I’ve only felt really good about calling myself a minimalist and referring to my lifestyle as minimal in the past two and half to three years. Over the past two months I’ve even more thoroughly gone through our home and our possessions. Finding out I was pregnant spurred this on a little as I’ve become absolutely overwhelmed and anxious about the stuff that everyone says you’ll need and that you’ll inadvertently accumulate. Stuff frightens me. I don’t want stuff. A few weeks after we found out I was pregnant I started reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo and while I certainly didn’t go all KonMari on my home I used bits of it that truly resonated with me. But that’s not what this post is about.

I’ve been reflecting on what minimalism actually means to me. Where I ‘failed’ at being a minimalist in the past was using other people’s standards of what minimalism was. I think back to the frustration of never being able to maintain a ’30 piece minimalist wardrobe’ or the absolute disappointment that never in my wildest dreams would I be able to pull off a ‘5 piece capsule wardrobe’. I felt like such a failure at it. So what’s changed? Without realising it I was unconsciously creating a new set of minimalist guidelines for myself (and for once I wasn’t trying to impose it on my husband, well I still try, but I’m better at not being pushy about it!).

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These guidelines revolve around two not so uncommon notions: do what you can with what you have and N. Burrough’s philosophy of minimalism as “simply the perfect amount of something”. In practice these two points sum up what minimalism means to me. Burrough’s philosophy made it so much easier for me to reconcile what my minimalist lifestyle looked like compared to others. Once I become comfortable with what was the perfect amount of stuff for me it was easier to avoid the temptation of shopping, and of accumulating more stuff because I was unconsciously comparing what I had to what other people felt they needed in their lives.

Here’s a little glimpse into what my “perfect amount of something” looks like: 

I only own two big pots, one saucepan, one frying pan, one cast iron pot and one tiny mini size pot. But don’t be fooled I love cooking and I cook everyday. Is this minimalist? I’m not sure, but it’s the perfect amount for me.

I had four pairs of socks. I’m sure I’ve just put two in the bin. I probably only need to buy one more pair. Three pairs of socks works for me.

I took the KonMari approach with my printed photos. Now I only have two small photo albums (200 pictures each) on our shelf. I got rid of hundreds and hundreds of printed photos. Now when we look through the albums it’s a collection of beautiful images that spark joy (not random landscape or architecture pictures that don’t remind us of anything).

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Regardless of if you are aiming for minimalism or not, giving ourselves the space to determine what the perfect amount is for our individual situations is effective and rewarding. As I get closer and closer to having this baby (though really, we are still a few months from meeting this little one) I’m sticking to “do what you can with what you have” and “minimalism is simply the perfect amount of something.”

 

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