To explain how I got into the minimalism / simple living craze would take probably hundreds of thousands of words. In order to keep this post minimalist (see what I did there?!), I will try my best to explain, briefly, what the minimalism movement has meant to me in these early stages.
I used to be a girl who had no problem with owning lots of stuff. In fact, I could be considered a shopaholic / excessive consumer just a few years ago. In my defense, none of it was particularly expensive things, just a lot of them – which does not actually make it better, so as Mona Lisa Vito would say, “The defense is wrooong!” (I quote movies a lot. Sorry not sorry.)
Storytime: Pre-minimalism, I went to IKEA and purchased some racks to hold and display my nail polishes. I’m getting organized, good job me! I thought. So I bought more things to hold my things. I think I had somewhere around 40-50 nail polishes, and I was so proud of my collection. When I moved about two years later, I threw out 80% of those polishes because they had gotten all funky from lack of use. Looking back I can remember it as one of the first times that I felt the twinge of guilt about my over-consumption. It just felt shitty (sorry, Mom).
I went back to screengrab some of my Instagram posts from before minimalism came into my life – #holycrap is right!
Fast forward another two years, and all of a sudden I found myself completely starting over. The circumstances of how I got there don’t matter, but in the span of about a month I had moved from a 2,000sqft house, to a mattress on my friend’s floor, and finally into my own 700sqft apartment. I took my clothes, my dogs, and only a few small pieces of furniture that were handed down from family, and left everything else behind.
In that little apartment, I began to learn to live with less. I bought a secondhand bed and table from Craigslist – something shopaholic Lisa would have never even considered. I got sick of tripping over things in the small space, and so I slowly pared down what I had even more. I bought my trailer (on somewhat of a quarter-life crisis whim), and on my first roadtrip learned even more about what it means to live more simply in less than 100sqft.
From there, as they say, the rest was history. I first heard the actual term Minimalism while I was living in that apartment, when I read New Minimalism, followed the Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by the now-famous Marie Kondo. I was completely intrigued by this idea of less, and it has only snowballed into an entire way of life, aptly called Simple Living.
The concept of minimalism has opened my eyes in a dozen ways: cutting out toxic relationships, recognizing and improving my impact on the environment, being more protective of my time / energy and of course, the catalyst that started it all, having less stuff.
As I move forward in life, I continue to carry the concept of minimalism with me. I considered it when I bought my home and decorated it. I have almost entirely (but not even close to perfect) stopped shopping for unnecessary things. I started seeing what advertisements were truly saying (“Spend money you don’t have on stuff you don’t need!”) instead of being blinded by the consumerism they pushed.
I learned what I wanted out of life when I stopped looking at the material and instead shifted my focus to happiness. What makes me happy? Is it owning 40 nail polishes and a ton of items of clothing from fast-fashion stores, shopping every weekend and yet still always wanting more? Or is happiness taking my dogs out for a walk in the evenings, or sitting on a bench with Jacob drinking tea and talking, or spending my weekends driving up north to play with my niece and sit on my parents’ back porch enjoying the weather and my family?
To quote the Grinch (with a few amendments): “Maybe happiness*, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. Maybe happiness*…perhaps…means a little bit more!”
P.S. I’m glad to report that I own exactly three nail polish colors these days! (and I could honestly probably cut that back a little) Okay, now I’m done I swear! I mean, I did say brief-ish…