I did something scandalous today.
I threw out all of my unmatched socks.
Okay, maybe that action does not strike you as dramatic but it was an important step for me. For a long time I had a special designated spot, a box in the corner of my room, where I stored all of my socks that lost their mates. I kept expecting for those missing socks to return from Narnia or the Matrix or where-ever and validate my ridiculous choice to hold on to so much worthlessness.
Maybe I held onto them because I genuinely expected those missing articles to turn-up (unlikely). Or perhaps I kept them in some misguided effort to “be green” because, maybe, someday, possibly, they could serve a purpose (even less likely). Any which way, someday has yet to come and those socks have got to go.
Does that sound at all familiar?
This post is a long time coming, I think. For months I have been almost obsessed with reading blogs and watching Ted Talks and YouTube videos by Minimalists. After following my dear friend Nitasha’s blog posts about her experience with a minimalist fashion challenge, I am feeling motivated to share my interest with you (you can read about Nitasha’s experience here).
So what exactly is minimalism? The best way I can describe it is not with my own words. According to Colin Wright, self-described author, blogger, entrepreneur, and traveler,
What Minimalism is really all about is reassessment of your priorities so that you can strip away the excess stuff – the possessions and ideas and relationships and activities – that don’t bring value to your life.
Minimalism means different things to different people, in different measures. Some minimalists enjoy living with as few possessions as possible (I’m talking, 50 to 100 worldly possessions) to facilitate a nomadic lifestyle. Others focus on eliminating distractions so that they can focus on what is most important to them. What Colin Wright so aptly describes is that the most important thing about minimalism is finding true value.
What value is there in a closet full of clothes that you never wear? What value is there in having an attic or storage unit filled with crap that you never see, let alone utilize? What value is there in having 1,000 Facebook friends you don’t know or don’t like versus 75 people you enjoy sharing with and love?
What I, at this very moment, realized is that my primary goal in embracing minimalism is to free myself of guilt. Guilt over not wanting to keep a gift that a loved one gave me. Guilt over not wearing a piece of clothing or jewelry that reminds me of an experience or person. Guilt over the money I spent buying things I don’t need and don’t use.
What I have found is that when I eliminate these items from my life, the guilt disappears. I can keep my memories and keep my gratitude without burdening myself with stuff that I have literally carried through my life for no reason.
My other goal is to get rid of excess to open myself up to new experiences and opportunities. A smaller wardrobe filled with only the pieces that I love and actually use means smaller laundry piles. I don’t feel guilty for having spent too much money on a trendy item I will never wear again. I no longer have an over-packed closet that I just can’t seem to keep organized. By reducing my desire to consume I save money and time that I can better use to add true value to my life.
Don’t get me wrong, I have miles to go. I mentioned in a previous blog that I recently reevaluated and purged movies and CDs. Since then I have gotten rid of books, even more clothing, and jewelry. My next plan of attack is to sell my vinyl record collection and my record player. I really appreciated these things when I first bought them but it has been years (literally!) since I have listened to them.
To me, my foray into minimalism is not about punishing or depriving myself. To me this is about freedom, freeing myself from my additction to consumerism.
My biggest challenge has been parting with the things that I spent good money on. I does hurt to know that some of things I am parting with were a waste of money. More guilt. I console myself that, according to the economic principle of Opportunity Cost, money spent in the past should not be a factor for decisions I make today. What matters are the choices I make going forward.
I know that I could utilize Craigslist or eBay to make money off of some of the things I am getting rid of but, to me, the value of making a little bit of money is not worth the effort. However, I have been selling some of my clothes through another party, the wonderful Embellish Plus Boutique, a local plus-size consignment store. Also, I did trade Movie Stop my unwanted DVDs in exchange for a $50 credit.
I have also found tremendous value in giving. I took a large box of books to the local court house and jail because I know that the people who will find the most value in them are the inmates who are doing their time inside.
All of this is to say that I encourage you to evaluate your surroundings and find a way to maximize the value of what you own. I don’t judge my fellow fashionistas who revel in a fabulous closet or collectors who delight in their hobbies, whatever makes you happy. I only wish to share that minimalism is making me happy and if you, like me, long for a decluttered, organized, and simplified existence, then I encourage you to experiment with minimalism. It feels really good and the risk is….
I would really and truly love to hear your thoughts.
What is something that you have eliminated from your life that has added value to your existence?
Or maybe you have added value through acquiring something?
Comment below and let me know!
Not that you asked but:
- Death Proof is playing on IFC (Independent Film Channel), what a great movie!
- I having been going ham on Target brand string cheese
- Having today off of school to celebrate MLK Day is awesome!
- On February 15th, minimalist author/bloggers Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus are bringing their lecture tour to Atlanta. To reserve seats or look up your city, check out their website www.theminimalists.com