I never imagined myself becoming a minimalist. It just wasn’t in my nature. Minimalism, to me, was the purists’ way of life—living with the bare minimum and nothing more. I admired their discipline, but it didn’t quite click with me.
I was the girl who loved to shop and own things. I liked my creature comforts too much to even consider the minimalist lifestyle.
I started to realise that all of my material possessions weren’t making me happy. In fact, they were doing pretty much the opposite of that. They were causing more stress and anxiety in my life. And so began my road to minimalism.
It’s been a long journey, but I’m finally at a point where I’m really happy with the amount of stuff I own. Here’s a look at where it all began and where I am now.
Where it began
As a child, I don’t remember ever being a particularly materialistic person. I was content with the few toys I had and didn’t feel the need to constantly ask for more.
We were a family of 7 and, being the youngest child, the majority of clothes I wore were hand-me-downs. I never complained because, to be honest, I didn’t really know any different.
It wasn’t until I was a teenager that materialism started to creep into my life. I began to compare myself to other girls my age who had the latest clothes and gadgets. I remember being so jealous of them and wanting what they had.
When I moved out at the age of 18, I started to develop a bit of an obsession with shopping. Sure, it made me feel good in the moment, but that feeling never lasted very long. I was always left wanting more.
As an adult, my shopping habits only got worse. I didn’t think twice about spending all of my money on things that I thought would make me happy. I would shop to make myself feel better when I was stressed, sad, or bored. It became a form of escapism for me. And it led to me accumulating a lot of stuff that I didn’t need and didn’t even really want.
The turning point came suddenly..
It was at the very beginning of the pandemic when I really started to think about my relationship with stuff. I was suddenly faced with so much uncertainty and I realised that the things I had spent my whole life chasing after — the material possessions — didn’t matter nearly as much as I thought they did.
I started to read everything I could about minimalism and decluttering. I binge-watched documentaries and read articles and books on the topic. And the more I learned, the more I realised that living with less could be a very good thing.
One of the first documentaries I watched was The True Cost, a harrowing film that looks at the environmental and human cost of the fast fashion industry. It really opened my eyes to the devastating impact our consumption habits have on people and the planet.
That was a massive turning point for me. I knew I had to change the way I lived.
I also watched Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things, which is all about two guys (Joshua Fields Milburn and Ryan Nicodemus, otherwise known as The Minimalists) who decide to declutter their lives and live with less. They talked about how our possessions end up owning us, rather than the other way around. And that really resonated with me.
I decided I wanted to try living with less stuff and see if it would make me happier. And so began my road to minimalism.
My Road to Minimalism
The road to minimalism isn’t a short road. It’s not an easy or smooth road. It has road blocks, pot holes, bumps, and detours. But it’s a road that is so worth taking.
The first few months were tough. I had to really change the way I thought about stuff. I had to challenge my long-held beliefs about what I needed to be happy. But slowly, bit by bit, I started to let go of things.
The first step I had to take on the road to minimalism was decluttering.
I took everything everything out of my wardrobe. EVERYTHING! I laid it all out on my bed and took a picture of the colossal pile of clothes… nobody needed that many clothes. I went through each item, one by one, and asked myself three questions:
- Do I love this
- Does this fit me
- Have I worn this in the past year
If I couldn’t answer yes to all three questions, then the item went in the donation pile.
It felt so good to get rid of all of that stuff! I filled up bags and bags of clothes, shoes and handbags and took them to my local charity shop. It was such a weight off my shoulders (literally and figuratively).
I decluttered my bathroom next and then moved on to my kitchen. I got rid of anything that I didn’t use or need. And it felt so freeing!
By the time I had decluttered the physical items in my apartment, I saw that I was getting rid of over 80% of my belongings…and this didn’t even feel like it was making a big dent.
It’s not just physical items that I needed to declutter. We can also declutter our digital lives.
I went through my email inbox and unsubscribed from all of the newsletters I was no longer interested in. I did a major purge of my social media accounts and unfollowed anyone who wasn’t adding value to my life.
I deleted old photos and files that I no longer needed. And I cleared out my desktop and bookmarks bar.
Changing my mindset
I knew in order to stay on this road to minimalism, I had to begin to change my mindset around shopping and material possessions.
I stopped impulse buying and started thinking more carefully about what I brought into my home. I only bought things that I really loved and that I knew would be used.
I realised that I got so much more joy out of experiences than I did from things. So, I started spending my money on these things I would remember for years to come instead of material possessions.
I travelled to new places, went out for dinner and drinks with friends, went to concerts and shows. And it was so much more fulfilling than buying stuff.
Connect with others
An important part of my journey has been connecting with others who are on a similar path. I’ve found that it’s so helpful to talk to people who understand what you’re going through.
I joined some Facebook groups and followed some minimalism bloggers. And it’s been great to have people to connect with who have been on the same road as me.
Where I am now
Minimalism has been such a positive force in my life. It has helped me to focus on what is important and to let go of the things that don’t matter. I am happier and healthier than I have ever been before, and I owe it all to minimalism.
Living a minimalist lifestyle has allowed me to live more intentionally, and to find joy in the simple things. It has given me so much back, such as:
I believe my road to minimalism will never end, it’s a constant journey of discovery and growth. I continue to adjust my mindset and I no longer buy things just for the sake of it.
The great thing about sticking to a minimalist lifestyle is that I never find the need to declutter any more. Because I’m not bringing more and more things into my home.
I live by the ‘one-in-one-out’ rule. If I truly fall in love with something and want it, I mentally make a note of something I already have that I can donate.
One day, I hope to live in a tiny home or van and travel the world. But for now, I’m happy living a simple life with only the things that bring me joy.
Have you travelled the road to minimalism? What have been some of the obstacles you’ve faced along the way? Let me know in the comments below!