On April 1st, 2017, I challenged myself to go minimalist. To me, this required that I cut down on my possessions and keep only what makes me happy. This meant devices, toys, clothes, anything that I had that wasn’t necessary for day-to-day living. Some big things this sweep included was old laptops and cameras, some sentimental objects, and collections of miscellaneous knick-knacks. It is all good though. Making this choice forced me to consolidate. It also forced me to go through my possessions and reevaluate the things I surround myself with.
The first factor I judged my possessions by was it’s utility. The more uses something had, the better chance I kept it. Of course, this automatically included my laptop and phone. This didn’t include stuff like avocado peelers even though I eat avocados often. Whatever you can do with an avocado peeler you can do with a knife. After utility, the other criteria was whether it genuinely made me happy. This criterion was hard because at one point or another, I looked at something and thought to myself “yeah this is an awesome thing!” I feel like I’m not wrong for doing that. I did buy it after all. This process was the most insightful part of going minimalist. If something makes you happy, you know it when you look at it every day. If it just sits on a shelf for months without being touched, chances are it doesn’t make you that happy.
Clothes were the first thing I tackled. I figured that if I was opening my closet every day and seeing only things I enjoy wearing, maybe some of that will rub off on the rest of the motivation I would need to tackle everything else. People always say that the hardest part is getting started. I took this challenge, Project 333, where you slim down all your clothing and accessories to just 33 items total. This challenge includes shirts, pants, jackets, underwear, socks (a pair is one), scarves, bracelets, watches, and whatever else you wear on your body daily. To be honest, it was easier than I expected. I was only able to shrink down to 39 but since then, whenever I get new clothes, I immediately get rid of something that I don’t wear as often. A cool thing I noticed along this process was after I slimmed down to 39 articles, I began to notice even single articles that I seemed to wear less often than others.
After shrinking my closet, I decided to give away all those clothes to my friends first. Seeing your friends happy is always a good feeling, and it’s a nice feeling to see your friends wear your clothes often; it’s a reminder that you have good taste. After they went through it, I donated the rest to a local Goodwill.
With a clean and condensed closet, it was easier for me to talk myself into condensing the rest of my room and my possessions. It was easier than the clothes. In college, you’d be amazed how easy it is to collect a bunch of useless stuff that you used that one night going to a themed party, or those knick-knacks on your shelf that you impulse-bought solely for “aesthetic”. I used two simple categories to help me clear my shelves, “Just-for-when” items and “Just-in-case” items.
“Just-for-when” items are 90% of the time, able to be thrown away or donated. These include a lot of the toys and random things around the house that we had for when we had A LOT of guests. We had Nerf guns and bullets solely for when someone wanted to have a Nerf gun fight. That was trashed. Some other “just-for-when” items we had in boxes were various candle warmers, game pieces for games we never played (D&D), piles of USB cables just for when we couldn’t find one of the 15 around the house, and party-themed items. As a college kid, most of your possessions are going to be “just-for-when” items and sadly, most of these possessions are going to be thrown away at some point or another so it is best to stop lying to yourself and just ditch them now.
The “Just-in-case” items were items you had in case of an emergency or something along those lines. Yes, it is nice to have umbrellas and a couple back up umbrellas but you don’t need to own three. One is just fine and replace it when it breaks. This category was mainly condensing the multiples of things I owned. One rain jacket is good. The only different from one to the other is the color. After some time, the “just-in-case” items cut themselves down because you begin to realize how many of the same thing you own that does just a single thing different.
So here I am today, July 6th, just 97 days after my commitment to a more minimalist life style and I can say that it has made my life so much easier. I have recently moved back home from college and I can say that the move itself was quick and painless because I did not own as many possessions as when I arrived to Ball State four years ago. This alone was a great feeling. In addition to shrinking my possessions and disconnecting myself from material things, I have also been attempting to cut down my technology and social media usage in hopes to appreciate a more genuine atmosphere with the people around me again instead of being glued to my phone most of the time.
Moving forward, being back home is going to be a challenge. Though my life back in college was minimized and shrunk down, that doesn’t mean my life back home is. My parents are hoarders and therefore, will present a huge challenge to me as I am beginning to tackle all the things in my family home. It is going to be a huge project but I’ve made some dents in the old things we own, even though most of the time it is when my parents aren’t looking. Overall, I am not worried. I enjoy sharing this process with my family because they’re starting to understand the joy in finding value in the simpler things of life.