Maybe I never really was.
Maybe I just haven’t found the right words to describe the desire:
to not want a lot of shit, feel claustrophobic or consumed with crapola
I started questioning my minimalist label when I started reading the book Essentiaslism: The Disciplined Persuit of Less.
This got me thinking, and looking up definitions.
My goal was to find the word that fit just right. Like a great pair of underwear.
- a person advocating minor or moderate reform in politics
- a person who favors a moderate approach to the achievement of a set of goals or who holds minimal expectations for the success of a program
- a style or technique (as in music, literature, or design) that is characterized by extreme spareness and simplicity
As you can see, I found a few definitions, but none related to stuff.
- Essentialism is the view that, for any specific entity (such as an animal, a group of people, a physical object, a concept), there is a set of attributes which are necessary to its identity and function (Wikipedia)
I also started to question my self-proclaimed label of “minimalist” the past few months as we settled into our new home. We moved from an 1,100 square foot city condo to a 2,100 square foot ranch on a big wooded lot. Things like kids needing another bedroom, city rent, wanting a yard, a project drove us out to the sticks.
All the nature I could want and more.
We unpacked all of our furniture it pretty much fit into one room. Not wanting to spend
a lot any money on new stuff, we took advantage of (and were extremely surprised at) how many amazing garage sales and antique markets were surrounding us.
We furnished the rest of the house for a few hundred bucks. Nothing matches, we still need a few more things, but it’s got character, and it’s well on its way to becoming more and more comfy every day.
When hunting garage sales and antique markets, I questioned my minimalist inclinations when I'd start eyeballing stuff that wasn't necessarily considered essential.
Walking through an overstuffed antique market full of treasures, collections, stuff with history and personality I enjoyed how the stuff made me feel.
I felt good.
Two years ago, in this post, I talked about how I came to realize that my stuff was not me.
Being a minimalist, for me, doesn't mean having as little possessions as possible, or 100 things or living without (though I do have secret (not secret) dreams of having nothing but a backpack and vagabonding it across the world.
Someday, but not today.
Being a minimalist is a tool and a mindset.
A mindset of wanting what I have, and being conscious of what I let in. If this means bringing in in a tablecloth, or a painting or another notebook, does this make me a minimalist? Or does it make me a hoarder?
Maybe neither. But it makes me feel good. And isn’t that the whole point?
It’s not about having less and less or living without. It’s about living and loving what you have and bringing things in with your soul awake.
It means not blindly shopping and buying a new set of pillows, dishes, sweaters just because they’re on sale. It’s about walking past a gorgeous display, appreciating the time it took for someone to arrange it, their expertise, experience, and the items that speak to you.
Now that I’ve read definitions of minimalism and essentialism and acknowledging that we mortals are limited to a finite number of words when we need to describe something.
Am I regretting putting the word “minimalist” on my business cards? Maybe a little, on the next batch it might say “Essentialst”. Or maybe a blend of the two; minimalessentialist. Someone who doesn’t want too much or too little, but JUST the right amount of stuff. Or maybe it'll just have my name - novel huh?
This still means I toss, sell or donate stuff when I’m no longer using it or loving it.
Maybe the word minimalism is just over used and isn't quite as cool as the fresher term "essentialist". Most people don’t know what essentialist means. Just like words like mindful and guru are ridiculously overused, minimalist became overused. Maybe it was my fault and I over used it. But like the mindset says, I over used it, it doesn’t feel good anymore so now I’m replacing it with something that feels like a better fit.
When talking to folks about being a minimalist, or just having less stuff; almost every single person beats themselves up about it.
They say things like, “Oh, I’m trying so hard to be a minimalist, but it’s just too hard, its too overwhelming”.
This defeats the point. If you’re stressing yourself out trying to live with less or constantly forcing yourself to downsize that’s fussy.
Unfussy is the goal. Mind and home.
What do you think? Minimalist? Essentialist? Hoarder? Is simplifying stressing you out or bringing you to life?