We’re living in somewhat of an interesting time. We’re living in a world of extreme consumerism.
For me, it didn’t really start out this way. I grew up knowing I needed to do chores around the house in order to receive an allowance, and every single thing I bought with that allowance was well thought out and planned in advance of purchasing. It was the ultimate reward to build up enough money to finally buy that thing I so badly wanted.
But then something changed along the way; I started making money of my own. Throughout high school and college, I made enough to be proud of at the time and was very protective and conservative with how I spent money. After college, things started to shift.
I worked in St. Louis and then Kansas City after college, and I was thrilled to finally have a respectable salary. Nothing to have a big ego about, but enough to sustain me and my hobbies and interests, donate where I could, and still be able to buy nice gifts for friends and family, and that was an accomplishment to me.
But somewhere in there, things got a little blurry with my consumption habits.
Fast forward to five and a half years out of college, and I realized something that didn’t sit right with me: I have a LOT of stuff.
Now don’t get me wrong; I now live with my husband and we have two guinea pigs (they take up more space and require more things than you may realize), so I had reason to have a lot of stuff around the apartment.
Or so I thought.
On Christmas Day, 2016, I sat down to watch “The Minimalists,” a new documentary on Netflix. I had always strived to work minimalism into my design style and products, so I figured I would gather a bit of inspiration from watching and be on my way.
Little did I know, this documentary would be the catalyst for a lifestyle shift I didn’t know I needed. This is where my journey to getting started with minimalism began.
After watching intently from start to finish, I suddenly felt overwhelmed. I was overwhelmed with THINGS in our apartment, and that very week, I decided enough was enough. I took every last thing out of my closet, and only kept about 50% of the items, ridding of anything I hadn’t worn in a year and a half (since we’d moved into this apartment) or knew I simply wasn’t going to wear again. I tore through the bathroom cabinets to throw out anything old, funky, or broken. I cleaned out our pantry cabinets of anything expired or questionable. (Sorry, husband.)
I filled boxes and bags with items that had to go, either for donations, recycling, or trash. And when the items were gone and I was finished with certain areas of our apartment, I felt the weight had lifted; I could breathe. There’s a pleasure that comes with knowing what you own and where your things are. And that’s exactly what happened. I kept the essentials in different compartments of my life and rid of the clutter once and for all.
Don’t get me wrong; it wasn’t always easy.
Although I’ve always been a tosser (whereas my husband is the keeper), there are a few things I’m sentimentally tied to that others would view as unnecessary. And what I learned from The Minimalists is that if something brings you such immense joy and adds value to your life — don’t feel pressured to toss it.
So I didn’t. I kept those few things that mean so much.
But the rest of the clutter? Gone. And I’m not finished; this is quite a process to undertake, and so I’m taking it section by section of the apartment. The one place I vowed to not touch, of course, is my husband’s man cave. His space of 90’s action figures, medical books, sports paraphernalia, and other items that DO mean so much to him fill this room. (The man needs a safe haven of some kind, am I right?)
Do I feel better after making this massive change in my lifestyle and living situation? Absolutely.
I feel as though our apartment has grown in size, and interestingly, I’ve had a much smaller desire to purchase new things. Now when I think of buying something new, I immediately think of where it’s going to live in the apartment and if I really want that thing there. That thought alone is enough to keep me from purchasing, in most cases.
If you’re considering taking this journey in your own life, I highly recommend starting with The Minimalists. The documentary on Netflix was amazing, and I’ve since tuned into their podcast, where they tackle minimalism in different aspects of ours lives. They have a truly interesting story on how their entire journey and business started, one that inspired me from that very first day.