If you want to become a minimalist you must declutter your house and reduce your possessions at least by half, eliminate color from your wardrobe, own only 25 pieces of clothing, paint all your walls white, decorate your apartment with a small array of cacti and do (or at least pretend like you do) yoga regularly.
When you search minimalism online you will most likely find an array of websites and YouTube videos urging decluttering and reorganizing your house and life as well as “easy to follow” plans that will lead you down the path of minimalism. If you follow these steps and paths you will be lead to the pinnacle of success in which you will lead a lifestyle modeled as the one mentioned above and find ultimate happiness, satisfaction, and freedom. Or at least, that’s the idea. Many of these videos and websites are extremely helpful and well-intended, and you will most likely also find me amongst the followers of many of these platforms; however, I think it is important to remember that minimalism is not a destination, but rather it is a journey.
Much like life, I see minimalism not as a destination, but as a journey. A journey on which the self is re-evaluated and life is re-aligned with those things that really matter most. It is a process through which priorities are re-considered, re-assessed, and re-set. The reason why I have found myself attracted to the ideology of minimalism lately is not because it adds another standard of perfection in my life that seems unattainable, but because in the lifestyle of minimalism I see a reduction in frivolity and (as mentioned above) a greater focus on the things in life that really matter most. Minimalism tends to focus not on things and material possession, but instead it tends to focus on mindfulness (a word that in itself is deserving of an entire blog post), and finding happiness through perspective, positive thinking, simplicity- and frankly life itself. Minimalist ideology adds value back into life itself instead of being distracted from it.
In the same way that autumn strips the trees of their vibrant green and superfluous leaves giving way to bare branches, minimalism provides a means through which one can filter those things from life that don’t provide value. Though this may not seem an attractive metaphor to those of you who love summer and the vibrancy of the summer bush, I find it quite accurate. Fall and winter have always been my favorite seasons far above summer. There seems to be a fullness to summer that is almost overbearing at times, as if it is pregnant with excess. When fall comes around, I celebrate the leaves turning colors and floating to the ground and when winter comes I admire the bare branches of the trees.
One of my favorite images of winter is the one of a bare tree contrasting starkly with the sky. The outline of the tree is much more obvious and clear in winter, because the leaves are no longer distracting from and blurring the outline. Similarly, as minimalism encourages simplicity and as we shed of our abundance reducing our lives down to our most important and joyful priorities, we too will be able to see ourselves, our lives, and our purpose with more clarity and certainty.
Now, I am not qualified to tell you what things matter most to you in your life, neither am I qualified to tell you what your priorities should be, what 10 things you can stop buying immediately, or what 5 things you don’t need in your home at all. I myself am still on a journey towards minimalism and greater freedom of happiness, and am still finding myself in the process of deliberating priorities. Though, so far in my process of re-assessing, I have found that I tend to value family and creativity very highly, and these (amongst others) will most likely be some of my priorities as I continue along on this journey. What will be yours?
Whatever your priorities might be, allow your unique individualism to thrive. Don’t allow minimalism to become another unattainable standard in your life that limits and demotivates. Instead allow it to focus your life and energy onto those things you find happiness in, liberating you from the distractions. Because that is what minimalism is all about.
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