minimalism

how I learned how to let go

#minimalism.

As a kid, I loved every thing out there. I always wanted the newest toy. But when I had what I wanted, I immediately wanted something else. Because at the end, it seemed to be that every other kid had more and better things.

I also never was good at leaving stuff behind. I never really thought about getting rid of anything. I loved all my cars, all my stuffed animals, all my toys for the sandbox and all of my Playmobil figurines. When you are asking yourself where the dolls and Barbies are…well I had one Barbie, I shaved her head and was bored. You could say I was a tomboy back then. But back to topic: I loved everything I owned and never had the intention of decluttering or even having the slight idea of what decluttering was. My mother went crazy with all the stuff lying around and once every week she said she would throw everything out that was lying on the floor if I wouldn’t tidy up my room. Scared as hell that I might lose even one of my beloved toys I tidied up my room. Apparently, parenting worked well for my mother with this line.

Growing older my interests shifted from toys to makeup and clothes. But also there, I was a little bit of a hoarder. I kept everything because you “might like it at some point”. Well, I didn’t. Even after moving out I kept everything. Boxes full of clothes and makeup were moved to another city onto the 3rd floor and into my tiny room. I believe this was the first time I thought about getting rid of stuff. Not because I really wanted to, but moving 20 boxes full of clothes onto the 3rd floor was not a spa treatment.

Trends will break your bank account

I actually have no idea why I thought this way so early in life and carried it with me into adulthood. But I am pretty sure, that our consumer-society is mostly at fault for this. Back in the day (like back in the day of my grandmother’s life), you would purchase something and would keep it as long as it still works. Even if it stops working, you would’ve tried to repair it. Nowadays you buy something just because it looks pretty or it is on trend right now – the definition of consumerism. No one cares about the quality anymore.

New trends were my bank accounts death sentence every time. A new clothing trend that looked appealing to me, I would go into the city and purchase something. After a few months, it would lie in my closet and would never be touched again. I always felt the need to change that, but it wasn’t until I had to live off a few things for a long period, that I actually did change this kind of behavior.

Living in Sweden taught me how to let go

For me, it all began in Sweden. As part of my studies, I had the opportunity to go abroad for a semester. I’ve always wanted to go to Sweden, I don’t know exactly why, maybe because my mom and I used to go to IKEA all the time. I had no idea this semester would have such a long-term effect on me and my way of thinking.

I lived in Stockholm for about five months in a tiny single dorm room. Luckily I had my own bathroom, fridge, and one hot plate. Space was minimal, basic furniture, no decor. Even though I traveled by car and was able to bring more stuff than those who arrived by plane, I lived off two bags of clothes and one of kitchen items. The only thing I purchased in Sweden was a frying pan, nothing else.

It was not just the fact that I was able to live off those few things that made me rethink my consumer behavior and my way of accumulating stuff that I never used and did not even like. These five months were one of the happiest in my life. I felt free, relaxed and grounded. The pressure I used to feel was gone. I did not feel the need to be busy all the time, to get stuff done, even though my heart and head weren’t in it. Without this pressure, wherever it came from, I was able to be even more productive. I enjoyed being productive, it didn’t feel like it was forced.

This feeling was what I took with me on my way home. I wanted to maintain this drive, this level of being productive and still being relaxed and happy. Back home it took me a while to tackle this matter. Coming back after five months means a lot of paperwork, adult stuff to deal with. I had a pile of mail in front of me that needed to be looked at, the heating needed to be fixed and so on…

After settling in for about four months and getting the affairs of my return back in order I started my minimalism journey. At that point, I didn’t read about minimalism at all. I didn’t even know that minimalism was what I was pursuing. I just started with decluttering my wardrobe. A thing I do every year because it makes me feel good. But that year I was more strict than ever and threw away all the stuff I didn’t like, that made me feel uncomfortable or that I never wore anyway. With being more strict, I was able to downsize my wardrobe by half. But decluttering my wardrobe was just the beginning. Little did I know what I had started with this.

A few months after downsizing my wardrobe I realized that I still wasn’t wearing a lot of the clothes. I decided I would look into a video by The Anna Edit that I watched months back. She talked about a thing called „The Capsule Wardrobe“. It basically means that you divide your clothes into seasons and that you will live with a certain number of clothes for three months, without going shopping during that time.

Watching this video for the first time I immediately thought: „This sounds interesting, but that would never work for me.“ But deep inside I wished it would work for me. It sounded like it would be fun, less stressful in the morning to pick the right outfit. And let’s be honest, I am a sucker for trends like this.

Minimalism does not mean everything should be white

After rewatching the video and reading into the topic the term minimalism popped up a lot. I started researching about it and could relate to it more than I would’ve thought. I actually think of me as a person that likes to accumulate stuff. I like a shelf full of books, decor, and cozy rooms. I don’t like rooms that are empty and all white. Yes, those look better on Instagram, but I couldn’t imagine living in a room without any life in it. That is, why I was reluctant to call myself a minimalist at first.

When you google the term minimalism, you mostly will find white rooms, without any or just one picture on the wall, pretty instagramable furniture and a few pretty plants in the corner. The fact, that every blog had that kind of aesthetic and was pursuing this goal threw me off the minimalism journey a lot. It took me a long time to get over the fact that minimalism has different looks and that everyone needs to do it their own way. It is not a strict lifestyle that forces you to love with as little as possible and have the most instagramable room out there. At the end, it is about living a purposeful life and enjoying the simplicity of it all.

Stay tuned for more stories and thoughts on minimalism and how I incorporate it into my life.

Thank you for reading.