Last September, I opened my heart and mind to the concept of minimalism. For years, I had cringed whenever I heard the word, not truly understanding what it meant. For some reason, September 2015 was a turning point and I decided to embrace it. I cursed myself for not trying it sooner.
This year, to celebrate a whole year of developing a minimalist mentality and paying off 30% of my debt, I have decided to celebrate by giving away more. I’m donating/throwing away 1,000 items.
The Minimalism Challenge
When I started this challenge a little over two weeks ago, I thought it would be tough. However, after the first weekend, I had already surpassed 700 items. By that point, I had fooled myself into thinking it was going to be easy. As you can see by my numbers below, I began to struggle.
The object is to only have things in your home that serve a purpose or you bring joy.
- 97= total of 956.
I feel like I’ve donated or thrown away everything that I can at this point without letting go of something I need or cherish. There may be things that I don’t wish to give up now that I’ll be fine parting with a year later.
Starting out, it didn’t feel like a minimalist challenge. In the course of one year, I hadn’t acquired a lot of things but I had learned to let go of things that didn’t matter; things that mattered to me last year that I wasn’t willing to part with but this year, I could. It shows personal growth. It shows a lack of need for a life filled with material things.
What are some of the things I was willing to part with this year that I couldn’t last year? Here was where I got the largest amount of “stuff” from.
- Craft supplies. Old paint, beads, soap-making dyes and molds, candle making molds. Every craft had become a distraction from the real craft I wanted to pursue- writing.
- Clothes and Jewelry. There are always clothes to donate, old bed sheets, a blanket. Jewelry that I don’t wear.
- Kitchenware. Bake ware that is unused. Extra handfuls of silverware, baking trays, Tupperware that is missing lids.
Some of these items are more geared towards females but where I had too many craft supplies, you may have too many old car parts that need to be fixed…that you know you haven’t repaired in five years and you’re not going to. I know a number of guys who have more pairs of shoes than I do writing utensils…
By default, females are going to have more things. Think about it, a man’s underwear consists of one garment. A woman’s consists of two. In addition, women have more styles of clothing and it’s socially acceptable for us to have more jewelry, make-up, hair products because society pressures us more about our appearance. These societal “norms” have been (thankfully) crumbling within the last few decades. Men and women are slowly but surely becoming more and more equal. It’s possible I’m being biased. Do you have old action figures that have been taken out of the box and aren’t worth anything? Golf clubs that never get used and can be sold for spare change?
Keep Letting Go!
As we enter the “giving” season, the season of sharing and being thankful, I challenge all of you to purge the clutter. It doesn’t have to be 1,000 items. Donate five shirts to charity, or two spare blankets as the weather begins to chill. If there are only two people living in your household, do you really need 3 different sets of plates (each a set of 8+)?? How many coffee mugs get used at one time? Drinking glasses? Spatulas? Soup Ladles?
Do not be afraid to let go. You don’t have to become a minimalist. I’m not asking you to join a cult.
If you’re not sure where to start, Marie Kondo makes a living by helping people “tidy-up” their homes. On the contrary, the “KonMari Method” (as she calls it) is not as extreme as minimalism but the concepts are the same. If you need help getting started, I highly recommend her book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
Note: We can sometimes inherit a lot of junk from deceased relatives. I’d love to share my story about that with you. Please check out my post: Minimalism and the Death of a Loved One.
Regina Bethory is a fiction author. She graduated from Christopher Newport University with a Bachelor’s in Directing and Play Writing and from Newport News Shipbuilding’s Apprentice School as a Test Electrician. She also has a degree in Funeral Services. As an avid minimalist and traveler, she enjoys spending her time learning new things, seeking new experiences and de-cluttering. When she is not writing, she can often be found in comic book stores and early morning matinees.