I’ve never talked about this before with other people. I wasn’t even sure I was one really. Are these feelings I have right? Maybe I can just get by trying to be like everyone else. I don’t want to be ostracized from society after all. I still have to live here. After a while, it gets so tiring hiding though. I just can’t do it anymore. I have to admit it to myself and to everyone. I am a minimalist.
I first started noticing these strange feelings I had when I was younger. I guess that’s how it starts for everyone like me. I would search for pictures of beautiful houses on pinterest. The search term “modern home” came up with thousands of results. Lots of them were beautiful, but the ones I loved best were the ones with the least amount of stuff. I loved the clean lines and open spaces. My wife would look at them say “What is that? It looks like no one even lives there!” “That’s true,” I said, without adding “and it looks amazing.” I wished our home could look like that.
Then I started reading blogs on minimalism. I read inspiring stories of how people changed their lives. There were 30 day challenges, clothing challenges, food challenges, and all sorts. I didn’t want to out myself though. I didn’t want to actually do a challenge and risk being discovered. Or worse yet, fall in love with it and be forced to admit that I was a changed person. Still skirting the issue I decided to read “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.” This time I couldn’t help it – I had to start getting rid of all of the useless junk I had accumulated. How did it feel? Amazing. It was freeing and magnificent. It was more than a breath of fresh air – it let me discover more of who I was. I didn’t worry about having enough space. I was happy when I opened drawers and could see everything in them at once. Everything had a place. I could think clearly. What’s more, is that it was restricted to my home. I didn’t have to tell anyone what I was doing. When people came over, they could just assume I cleaned up just for them, or that I simply have a tidy house. I thought, “Maybe I’m not a minimalist. I couldn’t really be one of those. I just like being organized. That must be what it is.”
We started spending less. Why buy more junk just to throw it away? With less junk came more disposable income and more vacations. Ah, vacations. I do love them, for seeing new things, visiting new places, getting away from work. Mostly though, I love them because when we go on vacation, we live with so little. Our most recent trip was three weeks in a camper. The four of us (two adults and two kids) could hardly all stand up at once. Well, that’s not true, but we couldn’t all get by each other. In such a small space, instead of saying “excuse me, I need to get by,” you learn to say the specific thing you need. If you don’t, then the person may move from where they are and still be in the way of what you need to get to, because there’s only one hallway and everything is in it. It was a very interesting experience. Interesting, and magical. We brought 6 plates, 6 bowls, 6 forks, 6 spoons, and 6 knives, for the four of us. We had a minimum amount of clothes and just the essentials for entertainment – computer, cell phones, books. Not everything in the camper worked out, but what did work out was having so few things.
When we were in the camper we had to do the dishes by hand immediately after eating. If not, the dishes would smell in the sink and we would have to do it anyway before preparing the next meal. But there were so few dishes that it didn’t matter! It only took about 5 minutes to get everything washed! It created an enjoyable routine. At home we have too many dishes and after eating they go straight into the dishwasher. Then at the end of the day, if some dishes don’t fit into the dishwasher it’s an inconvenience. “Geez, now we have to do dishes by hand,” we always think. This is what forced me out of the closet. Life was simpler with fewer dishes and doing them by hand.
So now I admit to you openly, I am a minimalist. For me, it’s better over here and I want to share my happiness. I hope that other people will discover the joy I have in owning less. Certainly, some will, and some will think I’m insane. I don’t care anymore. This is who I am. I want to simplify my life for what’s important.
More and more minimalists are “coming out of the closet” these days. Normal, everyday people are saying “no thank you” to consumerism and seeking happiness in a more logical manner. The “movement” has come with books, blogs, tapes, and even movies. It’s also been covered from time to time in the media (ABC News, Reuters, Others). We come in all shapes and sizes and varying amounts of things.
How to Get Started
- Read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing (book or audio).
- Watch Minimalism: A Documentary About The Important Things (movie).
- Read 6 Popular Decluttering Methods for Minimalism (blog article).
- Read Minimalism: A beginner’s guide (blog article).
- 7 Tiny Steps for the Beginner Minimalist
- Enjoy. This is for you, not for work.
Minimalism is about getting rid of excess and focusing on what really matters. Maybe it’s for you. Are there possessions you could get rid of?