My journey to becoming a minimalist has been slow and steady—more slow than steady, to be honest. It has been more than a year since my sudden urge to purge. I have not retreated back to old ways, nor have I gone to any extremes with my reduction in stuff. My apartment is full, but not overflowing. I purchase new items occasionally, but I rarely buy anything I won’t use. I still have more to get rid of, but I don’t feel the pressure that I did when I was surrounded by hundreds of things I didn’t use or think about.
Over the last year, I have developed some broad values that have informed many of my decisions, especially in regards to purchasing and deciding what to keep in my apartment. Here are some of those values and what they might mean for me moving forward.
I want everything to have a place
I’ve noticed that I function better when everything in my apartment is put in its place. Unfortunately, I have not established a place for everything just yet. Unless you consider my cardigans to be in the right place when they’re carelessly draped over one of my kitchen table chairs. When I feel like I can’t get work done unless my space is clean, I suddenly feel the need to put everything away. I am mostly successful, yet some items end up in neat piles on the corner of a table or on the floor instead of in an actual storage location like a cabinet or closet.
As I move forward with my commitment to accumulating and keeping fewer things, I would also like to commit to finding a place for everything. If I can’t find a place for all my stuff, I probably just have too much stuff.
I want to avoid matching at all costs
I am not one of those people who wants or needs to match my curtains to my bedspread; my dishes to my bowls; my trash can to my walls. I am perfectly content collecting cheap or free items from family and friends to put together all the things I need to live with. I got my brown dishes from my Nana, my glasses from visits to my favorite local breweries, my silverware from Ikea, my small bowls from somewhere in my mom’s house… and none of these pieces match. My art and decorations are all in different color schemes. And my red, plaid bedding doesn’t really match anything other than my flannel robe. And you know what? I love my apartment. And I get a lot of compliments on my decorations and the way I’ve arranged all my things.
Not only has my mis-matched arrangement of decorations and necessities been a fun form of self-expression over the years, but it has also been a way to keep costs way down. This is one habit that I’d like to retain. I hope I never feel the need to be matchy-matchy and buy all new items just so everything can look uniform. I hope I always maintain my silly, eclectic, and what some would call rainbow-y sense of decoration.
I still want my home to look “lived in”
My homes have always looked lived in. I grew up in a four-bedroom house with two older brothers and an awesome dog, and our friends were always over. We never really had areas of the house that were off-limits and, despite my mom’s best efforts to keep the house spotless, we definitely used every inch of the house for activities and did not do the best job cleaning up after ourselves. We set up matchbox car tracks from the kitchen to the living room and down the hall to the stairs. We fought over the TV in the living room and prided ourselves in the “butt grooves” we created on our favorite spots on the couch. We put stickers all over our furniture and drew on places we shouldn’t have.
I am envious of minimalists who can pull of the “clean” look, but I am realistic enough to know that I will likely never live in an apartment or house with plain walls, clear counters, or anything white. I will live in a home that looks like I live in it. It will have all my DIY crafts hanging on the walls; it will have a picture frame on every surface; it will be filled with people I love and stuff that I like. I will just need to make sure that when I am organizing and decorating all my future homes, I keep things simple and as minimal as possible.
I want to turn my physical memories into electronic memories
Similar to how I maintain my bank records in online statements and emails in folders, I would like to file all the thousands of pieces of paper I have kept in an electronic memory box. My plan is simple—I’d like to scan in the thousands of documents I have and keep a folder on my computer with all the sweet notes, old photographs that aren’t important enough to keep a hard copy of, and photos of all the less valuable trinkets I have collected over the years. This might take a while, but I think I will feel relief when I can kindly recycle all these papers and be able to move out of my current apartment with four less boxes. I’m not exaggerating—I actually have that many boxes of memories, ranging from notes to yearbooks to my old Brownies uniform. I keep everything. It’s almost embarrassing.
I want to move to my next place with two carloads of stuff at the most
I would love to say that I can move to my next place with just one carload, but I am wise enough to know that I will never get rid of all my books, some small pieces of furniture, and some other items that I know will take up a good bit of room. If I can make it into one car I will be absolutely thrilled, but I don’t want to get my hopes up.
I have a long way to go
I am certainly doing better than I was a little more than a year ago, but I have a long way to go to become a true minimalist. I’m just going to keep purging, accumulate less, and build upon my growing minimalist values until I am at a place that I feel satisfied. I better get started…