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, we have a wonderful contribution from Katherine, who tells us how she is re-discovering minimalism. My favorite line: “my heart did a 180 when it came to possessions.” Surf on over to her blog to learn more.
In college, I could not wait to explore the world as a study-abroader! I purchased an adequately sized backpack from a local store to carry and was on my way. What I didn’t realize until I arrived in Europe, was that all my classmates planned to carry backpacks three times the size of mine.
Oh well, I thought. This is what I have, and it’ll have to work. And somehow it did. I’d fit two weeks worth of clothes and necessities in that little bag. I never missed a train, because my belongings were too heavy to lug around. I always had enough, but was never slowed down by possessions.
The trend of requiring little continued. After college, I spent time overseas as a missionary. My fiance was doing the same. Neither of us owned much. When we returned to the states to get married, we were overwhelmed by the idea of registering for our wedding. The kind folks at Bed, Bath, & Beyond handed us the registering gun, fully expecting us to request 400 items! What were we going to do with all that stuff? I think we selected a few baking pans before we had to get out of there.
I tell these stories to demonstrate my minimalist roots and tendencies.
Fast forward a few years, throw in a baby, a house, and a few too many decorating magazines. Friends, I gave in to consumerism. Suddenly, I couldn’t have enough pillows on my couch, enough pictures on my walls, or enough objects in storage to rotate in when I was tired of the current set-up.
We were in graduate school at the time, which meant finances were limited. This led to a habit of holding onto just-in-case items. Stuff began to pile up.
In May, we finished school. My husband started his first real job, and we moved into a bigger house. The bigger house meant bigger closets. Bigger closets means a greater ability to store useless items.
Somehow, during this move, I began to stumble upon simplifying and minimalism blogs. The effect this material had on me was profound. It is almost as if my heart did a 180 when it came to possessions. I went from spending hours scouring websites for deals on furniture to hours of reading about getting rid of stuff!
I decided that rather than filling all the closet space in the new house, I wanted to keep them as empty as possible. I was on a mission. I’d get a healthy dose of minimalist encouragement (by reading 3 or 4 posts) and then, I’d go clean out! I got rid of trunk loads of stuff. It felt incredible, almost addicting, really.
When I visited my parents’ house this summer, I cleaned out the bins and bins they were storing for me. A lifetime of paperwork, random awards, junior high notes, and holiday cards were inspected. I’d watch episodes of Hoarders on Netflix and simultaneously purge. It felt wonderful not to be burdening my parents with my stuff.
To be honest, I do not think I will ever be a full on minimalist. I like having a couch (gasp) and a lot of seating in my family room. We host large groups of people often, so it’s useful to have plates, cloth napkins, and chairs. However, I have learned so much from minimalism.
It has changed the way I shop for clothes and view my wardrobe, by causing me to ask important questions concerning purchases. It has led me to think through good money management, saving, and investing. Finally, it has given me the ability to let go of unnecessary possessions, to not define myself or my life based on my possessions, and to feel a genuine freedom in that. I am grateful!