aspiring minimalist

Why are you still just an “aspiring” minimalist?

Something I’ve seen a lot lately while browsing Twitter for new friends to follow is people labeling themselves as an “aspiring minimalist”.

Aspiring? Aspiring to me sounds dreamy, like those far off dreams we have of living on an island and being a surf instructor, when we have never even touched a surf board. It lacks the concreteness of reality.aspire definition

Why limit yourself?

If you “want very much” to be a minimalist, why not be one?

Perhaps those self-defined aspiring minimalists are just waiting to find the time to go through all their belongings. Maybe they long for a clutter-free home, yet see the process as so grand and daunting, they can never quite seem to spare an afternoon.

I invite them to find 30 minutes to clear one junk drawer.

Perhaps there are some aspiring minimalists who have taken those first steps, gone through the KonMari method with their wardrobe, and yet still don’t feel they’ve quite achieved “minimalist” status.

To them I say, you don’t have to live in an empty room to call yourself a minimalist. (tweet that)

How do you become a “minimalist”?

Minimalism can be a long, slow process. For some it can take years. You don’t have to wait until your mission is complete before claiming your title.

I don’t remember when I first started calling myself a minimalist. I think it was when I realized how much physical clutter affects me and when my perspective on possessions changed. With my new perspective came my new label.

But in retrospect, I’ve always been a minimalist — I just didn’t realize it for many years. I lived in clutter for most of my life, and felt the emotional repercussions of it. I was a minimalist living in a cluttered house.

Do you have to wait until you’ve achieved Christ-like perfection before calling yourself a Christian? Or wait until you’re floating around in enlightenment before calling yourself a meditator? Or until you can bend in ways previously thought impossible before calling yourself a yogi? No. These things are practices, lifestyles, or ways of life. They are ideologies you can choose to follow because they resonate with you.

Minimalism isn’t as extreme as you think it is

We often picture a minimalist as someone who sits on the bare floor of an all-white apartment with maybe, maybe, a glass of water and a lamp in the corner.

Minimalism is not that extreme.

Everyday people living everyday lives can be minimalists. Your neighbor or child’s teacher or coworker might be one and you don’t even know it!

Minimalism doesn’t even have to be a huge change for you. You might find that you only have a few extra things around the house that aren’t serving you — yet what a difference it makes to remove them!

Making the jump

If you resonate with the ideas of minimalism, you are a minimalist. If you’re a minimalist and haven’t started decluttering your home or changing your purchasing habits yet, I invite you to start now. It’s uncomfortable to live counter to what feels true to you. And living with intention feels so much better.

Decluttering my life has brought me peace of mind and relief from the world around me. There’s nothing like walking into the space you created and knowing you have nothing more than what you need. I write articles to help others create that same feeling for themselves.

How and why my priorities changed

The dream

There was a time, believe it or not, when I strived to be one of those Beverly Hills housewife types. The blonde, Juicy Couture tracksuit wearing, small dog toting, cosmetic surgery flaunting women seen with jewelry and sunglasses and mimosas. This, to me, was the picture of success and desirability.

How would I do it? Get a high-paying job in marketing or something, straight out of college, and earn my way up the corporate ladder (I always pictured myself as a career-woman); or “marry a rich man and all our problems will be solved” as my college roommate suggested. One way or the other, it was my goal and I sure hoped it would happen.

Obviously, none of it happened. I was lucky enough to get a waitressing job straight out of college, let alone anything else. With my frugality strong from childhood, I navigated the world of eBay and did buy myself a used Juicy Couture jacket, and a few other “designer” items. It was a slow start but I didn’t lose hope.

I bought other clothes, too, for the fancy LA parties I would some day attend. I just bought them to have them on hand, really. You never know, and I wanted to be ready.

The Other dreams

To say I was living my life in delusion only covers half of it. I was spending the little money I earned on clothes for events I didn’t go to, because it was more comfortable to keep the vision of what I thought I wanted to be, rather than give up the vision in favor of practicality.

Eventually though, my vision changed. I stopped buying things that fit the socialite imagine, in favor of yoga pants and athleisure wear. The fact that I hardly ever practiced yoga wasn’t going to stop me from my new dream of becoming a yoga teacher. Yoga teachers were fit, chill, and likable. They seemed to have their lives balanced and to be happy and free. Sounded good to me.

Fast forward another year or two and I was reading Seth Godin books, following Tim Ferriss diets, and watching Noah Kagan conferences. I was destined to be an entrepreneur. With minimal business-sense and a deplorable work ethic, this was sure to finally be my thing.

I needed a “thing”, right?

The crash

Needless to say, after spending the majority of my 20s hopping from one persona to the next, I was left feeling like quite a failure. But I still didn’t have my thing, or know what I wanted to be.

I was also single, at a time when my entire social circle was married with children or at least well on their way. I was feeling the most depressed I had ever felt, and finally, although I hated the idea of being a quitter yet again, I quit my office job, with no backup plan. I just needed a break from it all.

With everything fallen apart, this was the first time I started asking myself what I actually wanted for my life.

I wrote up a mental list of things I thought would bring me happiness, and for the first time ever I did not factor in how much a job would pay, what others would think of me, or what the long term career potential could be. I simply thought about the now.

I decided I wanted to work outside, not at a desk; and to do work that directly helped my community so I felt purposeful. I wanted to throw away my career-woman wardrobe (it was so stuffy and uncomfortable!) and to stop playing some part in order to fit in with a job. I wanted to reel everything back in and strip everything to the absolute basics, so that all that was left was my authentic self.

And that’s where I started building from.

Minimalism + Simple Living

Around this time my book club read Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and my life literally did change. My stress from living in a cluttered space had reached a boiling point and I finally pieced it together that the affect of clutter is real. Once that set in, I was on the fast track to minimalism. I started with my wardrobe and ruthlessly donated pieces I disliked or didn’t regularly wear.

I delved into the topic online and discovered the term simple living. All at once I felt understood. This term put into words the lifestyle I truly desired at my most fundamental level — not what someone else desired for me. The freedom I felt from giving myself a chance to speak up and say what it desired was new to me. Finally I had something that felt true.

Looking back

I guess you could say I was always a minimalist at heart — but I was living inauthentically. You could say I always got stressed by clutter — but it took me years to realize it. You could say I always longed for a simple lifestyle — but I let society lead me in a different direction.

Sometimes it can take decades to give your true self a voice. What is yours waiting to say? (tweet that)

 

Decluttering my life has brought me peace of mind and relief from the world around me. There’s nothing like walking into the space you created and knowing you have nothing more than what you need. I write articles to help others create that same feeling for themselves.