living space

Flirting with Minimalism

According to The Minimalists,

Minimalism is a tool used to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.

I started thinking about “ridding myself of life’s excess” (a.k.a de-cluttering) a month ago when final exams were winding down and I needed to fill the void with another form of productivity. I wouldn’t consider myself a “hoarder”, per se, but I definitely hang onto things – this would become blatantly obvious whenever I moved (5-6 times in less than 4 years).

Rewind to December 2013, when I moved back home. I had numerous storage bins full of stuff. I filled two dressers and a closet with stuff. I had more storage bins in the basement with stuff. I had a shelf full of stuff. I bought two of those plastic drawer sets to fill with stuff. And for the most part, that’s all it was: stuff. They cluttered my room for an entire year before I decided I was going to rid myself of life’s excess (I can’t get over how beautiful that sounds).

My first small project was my “Make Up” drawer set. For someone who wears the same look every day, I had accumulated a shit ton of make up “stuff”. For example, I found at least 9 eye shadow quads that all looked almost the same (nude, nude, nude)!  I gave it some thought and kept two that I frequent the most, and one for “fun”. I repeated the process with every drawer and category of make up (eyeliners, mascaras, foundations, blushes, nail polish) and by the end, my drawers were a lot emptier and a lot more organized. What I have in there is what I use and I don’t need to search for any of it anymore.

I repeated this process with the various storage bins in my room and in the basement – sorting what to keep, throw out, and donate. I came across a lot of nostalgia and enjoyed the trip down memory lane, but ultimately, I only kept what was truly important to me (ex. souvenirs from the 2005 International Children’s Games – a once-in-a-lifetime experience!).

After that week of ridding myself of life’s excessI had only one box of momentos tucked away in the basement and many boxes of donations. The experience was an all-around win-win: I took back space in my room, reminisced on my childhood, donated lots of books/clothes, and felt a new-found sense of freedom and mental clarity.

I’m no full-blown minimalist – my worldly possessions don’t fit in carry-on – but I am enjoying flirting with its philosophy and applying it to my life in baby steps. Will I ever whittle my wardrobe down to a handful of items? Maybe, maybe not. But, I am more aware of what I own and more conscious of wanting something, versus needing it.

I encourage everyone to re-evaluate what they own, why they own it, and whether there’s a true need to add to it. It’s beautifully liberating.

Side note: Here’s a minimalist you’re probably familiar with