I watched a very thought provoking documentary a few days ago, called Minimalism: A documentary about the important things (it’s on Netflix if you want to check it out), and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.
I’d always assumed minimalism was a radical cleansing of all your possessions until you were left with a chair, plate and fork in a sad empty room. In reality though it wasn’t what I’d expected at all, and was much more about being a conscious consumer and having things that you really need. A common fear of embracing minimalism is that you would have to give up things you really love, like a treasured book collection, or in my case a treasured antique cup collection (yep, that is not a joke). In fact, minimalism encourages just the opposite, in that you should absolutely surround yourself with things you love.
So I relaxed into the idea after that and looked around my cluttered quarters. My family is in the middle of a major renovation of our home, and so are living in a rental property while that’s being completed. It is a tiny little house and while much of our ‘stuff’ is in storage there is still a lot that we have crammed into our tiny temporary space. The vacuum cleaner and ironing board sit next to the TV due to lack of storage space and quite frankly it has all become a little claustrophobic being surrounded by things.
We have a 9-month-old baby, and babies come with A LOT of paraphernalia, which has compounded the amount of stuff we’ve acquired. If I’m brutally honest though, so much of what we have in our home is unnecessary crap. So I’ve decided to begin the process to de-clutter my life, and I’m following the simple minimalist formula:
- Do I need this / Do I use this?
- Does it bring me joy?
Ideally the answer to both questions is “yes”, but I’m easing myself into this so one “yes” will do for now. Things that don’t make the cut will be packed away, for now, and if I’ve not revisited the items in the next 6 months, they will be sold, donated or binned.
The other glaring hurdle in this quest to minimise my crap, is my wardrobe. I’ve got too much basically. Too many pairs of shoes to count, and way too many items of clothing. I have 14 pairs of jeans, which is surely just ridiculous. Some items just sit in suitcases above the wardrobe, in a kind of graveyard of old corporate suits reminding me of a life that I’d rather not be reminded of. My beautiful tailored suits that I spent entire pay cheques acquiring, sat heavy on my shoulders in the midst of a life that didn’t bring me joy. Sometimes I pull one out of the abyss to wear to a funeral. So why can’t I get rid of them? I rationalise that they were too expensive to just throw away, but really it’s that niggling little background voice of “what if I have to go back to that corporate life one day?”
Is that why we hang on to so many things we don’t need? The old, “what if I need that one day?”
Probably. Fear drives a lot of the decisions we make, which is confronting to admit.
So what to do? Well I’m going to start by embarking on the “Project 333” challenge. Wearing only 33 items of clothing for 3 months and see how I go. I’m hoping this will restore some perspective of what I actually need, and quash a little bit of that fear. Fear of needing something I don’t have. Fear of judgement by others, if I don’t have everything that they have. Fear of my own greed, and needing to acquire things all the time.
Ultimately I want more than what things can give me, and so I will shed some excess and hopefully gain much more.
Wish me luck!