Becoming a Minimalist

When I packed to move, I knew I had to be deliberate about what I chose to take with me, but didn’t realize I was turning into a minimalist. I’m in a 200-square-foot apartment: one room with a bathroom, closet, and balcony just big enough for two chairs and a small table. And I don’t live alone. Everything in that space is essential and serves a purpose.

People often asked how many suitcases I planned on using. The answer: one checked bag, one carry-on, and a backpack. Most were shocked. They’d have been more shocked to know my carry-on only held my Louis Vuitton purse, Wonder Woman Barbie doll, and a coffee mug.

How could I move so far with so few things?

Last time I checked, I could buy “things” just about anywhere. Most of the “things” I own are not essential to my everyday life and didn’t need to follow me.

Of course I’m positive if I was moving only a few blocks, I would have packed 95% of the items I own. Limited by a few bags and a shared studio apartment, I chose items that would be practical, and a few that would “bring me joy.” A true minimalist mindset.

The idea of minimalism by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus is discussed in their Netflix documentary “Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things.” As I watched the duo discuss the reasoning for their lifestyle, I couldn’t help but agree with what they were saying.

“Today’s problem seems to be the meaning we assign to our stuff: we tend to give too much meaning to our things, often forsaking our health, our relationships, our passions, our personal growth, and our desire to contribute beyond ourselves.”

So if this the problem, then what is the solution?

Well, the oversimplified version is:

“Minimalism is a lifestyle that helps people question what things add value to their lives. By clearing the clutter from life’s path, we can all make room for the most important aspects of life: health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution.”

While the above is a quick elevator pitch of minimalism, I find it fitting. Minimalism has no set rules or guidelines to adhere to. Everyone can be a minimalist yet live different lives, as the end goal for all is “a life with more time, more money, and more freedom to live a more meaningful life.”

After watching the documentary, I looked around my little studio that most people can’t fathom I live in, and I realized I’m living minimally (even if it wasn’t a conscious decision). And I like it! Everything has a purpose. It’s simple.

The bathroom has no decorative towels (I always hated them as a child) and it even shares a space with a washing machine. The couch turns into the bed at night, eliminating most of the living area, and back into the couch in the morning. Dinner is served on the small bar height counter or on the balcony table. Shelf space is maximized and in abundance, and sometimes a little messy by the end of the day from shuffling items around the room to make space as needed.

(Side note: You know those videos of really tiny houses and micro-apartments that have modular furniture? I think they’re coolest and love the idea of living in one.)

I still have items that aren’t “essential” to the everyday and serve as mementos, like the prayer box my sister gifted me before I left. But I no longer feel overwhelmed from being surrounded by so much stuff. When I return to my old basement in September I plan on playing the 30-Day Minimalism Game. On the first day you get rid of one item, on the second day you get rid of two items, and so on and so forth. Yeah, that’s a lot of stuff to get rid of in one month, but why not try?

While I don’t consider myself living a full blown minimalism lifestyle (although as I said before, each minimalist lives differently and there are no right or wrong answers), I am more conscious and consider the value of what I buy and how I live more than I did before. The idea of minimalism coupled with my new living situation have allowed me to consider how our lifestyles not only affect us individually, but the global effects they have in regard to sustainability and commercialism.

To me, an important aspect of minimalism is consuming less. The less we consume, the less we damage the environment. Stuff and things also don’t make us any more happier than we would be without them. They don’t fill that void. Living minimally will not fill the void either, but it does clear the path to allow us to focus on what is important, and thus live better and more fulfilling lives. But hey, to each his own.

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