Why Minimalism Doesn't Work For Me

>> Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Alright, so I definitely do label myself as an "aspiring minimalist" -- but really, that's not really what I mean. I definitely like the basic idea of only owning what you need . . . and living with less . . . and valuing quality over quantity . . . and examining priorities with regard to purchases and stuff in general. I like the aesthetic of a space that is calm and empty aside from the essentials.

And I freaking LOVE the feeling I get after a good purge.

Ohhhhh, yeah. Clear it all out. All of it!

Where my feelings on the subject deviate, I suppose, is when it comes to what I consider the new challenge culture that we live in. The rampant trend of minimalism. The consumerism aspect of it, too (crazy, but it's a thing!).

I'm the first to admit that I'm not high and mighty on this subject. I've tried many, many, many challenges and trials in the last many years. But it's the whole capsule wardrobe -- only owning 10, 25, XX items of clothing. Or getting rid of everything to the point of it being almost too much. Or feeling pressure to buy "the RIGHT" things to make myself feel like a law-abiding minimalist (which is wrong on so many levels, right?).

I think there's this tendency when we as humans get interested in any particular thing to go ALL IN. (Or maybe it's just people who have personality types like mine.) If I don't, I feel like I'm doing a half-assed job of it. Or like I'm setting myself up for failure. Or like I shouldn't even bother. For example, if my kids clothes don't all coordinate or mix-and-match, I'm doing it wrong. If I have too many coffee cups, I've failed. If I hold onto much sentimental (yearbooks, I'm looking at you!), it's ridiculous. Etc.

What am I saying?

OK. I think it's hard not to get caught up in the Keeping Up With The Joneses version of minimalism that's circulating the internet. The closet challenges. The photos of neatly coordinated wooden toys. The clean white sheets and crisp slipcovers. THE IDEA THAT MINIMALISM WILL MAKE YOUR LIFE PERFECT AND EASY. Sorry to yell, but I have found living this way to actually be quite hard work. Maybe I'm doing it wrong. But I'm sure a few of you in the back seats know what I'm talking about.

The thing is, it actually should be easy. That is, if you're doing it right for you.

This last time I purged my house and organized my belongings, I tried very hard to separate out my own needs from the ones that I've drooled over on Instagram feed. The ones that I've read "SHOULD" be how I do things. I've decided that "minimalism" can have a different definition depending on your own family's needs. Maybe that's not technically true, but I'm declaring that you can pick and choose what you want from the concept.

And maybe we don't have to label ourselves at all!

(Wouldn't that be wild?)

Here's what I like:

  • Thinking before I buy new things. Taking a bit of time to ponder if I envision that new thing in a donation box in the near future. Or if we might already have something that functions just fine -- it helps me resist filling my cart at Target.
  • Being grateful for what we have. This means taking care of our existing stuff -- however mismatched or basic it is -- because we already spent money and energy on it.
  • Keeping what we are truly using. Versus just going through closets and drawers and tossing anything that doesn't fit my vision for my life, it's important to evaluate what we truly use. Even if it means keeping something like a gigantic tub of obnoxious plastic blocks because my kids LOVE them and haven't touched the blonde wood ones that were hand-carved and personally blessed by a mythical goddess (no disrespect -- but my kids like the plastic ones).
  • Regularly revisiting and purging. It's important to go through every so often to see if there's something that is no longer meeting our needs, that's damaged/broken, or that we can otherwise clear out.

So, I guess it isn't that minimalism doesn't work for me. I am -- instead -- working (very hard) to make a version of minimalism make sense for my own family.

Why bother? Because I truly see the merit in the general concepts. And we have way too much crap. I'm getting there with my own process on my own terms. In my next post on this subject, I'll share what I did differently this time around when it came to purging my house, as well as how I plan to actually make it work in the long run.

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