Every Monday I post Real Life Minimalists, a profile of one of my readers in their own words. If you’d like to participate, click here for details.
This week, I’m pleased to feature Layla, who addresses an important question: what happens when you finish decluttering?
When I was younger, I used to make up stories. One of them is about a time-traveling gal who goes back to the past and lives simply for many years, making amazing friends and falling in love. At the end, she comes back to the present and immediately goes through all her old stuff, putting it in boxes to give away.
For most of my life I had too much stuff, too much sugar, and too much wheat. I often chose to escape into imaginary worlds of books and TV rather than accept that I was imperfect and stressed.
I discovered minimalism one spring three years ago, and soon I was making colourful lists of everything I owned. The results were spectacularly fast – my room was organized, nicely decorated, and I went on a trip with only a carry-on bag. I spent my new-found free time going through and itemizing the remainder of my stuff, and imagining how free I was going to feel as soon as I was finished decluttering!
Sometime that fall, I finished decluttering. “Great!” I thought, “I’m finished with my quarter-life crisis, and now I can finally be the person I’ve always wanted to be with nothing to hold me back.” I can finally do whatever I want in my spare time. Hmm… what will I do with my spare time?
What fulfilling, worthwhile thing will I do in my spare time?
Cricket noises: *chirp chirp*
I couldn’t figure out what to do. So my anxiety about food turned into an eating disorder, and felt less free than before. It turns out that when I threw away my unflattering clothes and unused gadgets, I also threw away my self-soothing activity (self-soothing is an activity you use to cope with feelings you can’t describe, understand, or solve: mine used to be organizing.)
Organizing my belongings had protected me from my own mind, in the same way as in chemistry a sacrificial anode protects an important metal from corroding. Once all my stuff was gone, I had to face my unnamed feelings.
This took a while, and was a lot tougher and more frustrating than getting rid of those physical possessions. But it was worth it: I’m more mindful than ever, and would prefer to sit down with teen fiction with chai tea, and not a TV show with sweet caramel popcorn. I explore my feelings rather than shrinking away from them, and I’ve started meditating for at least five minutes every morning.
Miss Minimalist was the first minimalism blog I discovered three years ago, starting my journey to be more mindful and to be the person I want to be.