Rethinking Minimalism

When I left for London two months ago I really thought of myself as a minimalist. Throughout the previous year I had halved my possessions and the halved them again. I had only 40 hangers in my closet. I planned my wardrobe for my trip and it all fit into a single suitcase. I was so proud of myself. I managed to not overpack which is something everyone in my family always does (like I’ve said, we’re a bunch of hoarders). Then I arrived in London and was immediately faced with problems related to the amount of stuff I had.

As soon as she walked in, my roommate commented on how much I had brought with me. She had only packed a single carry on bag for the entire semester and my moment of pride was instantly diminished. There were other moments in which I felt bad about what I had packed: I injured my back carrying my suitcase up the stairs because it was so heavy, and after two months there are several things I brought that I haven’t touched because I don’t need them.

I realized that I am very much attached to my stuff. Much more than I would like to be. I felt so anxious about being away for so long that I brought books, crystals, teas, essential oils, and makeup just in case. These were all things I enjoyed a lot at home and were central to my daily rituals but have been largely ignored since being here. I started putting the things I didn’t use in a box, and later went through the box to see what was worth keeping or sending home and what could be donated or discarded. It is so hard to let things go. I’m paralyzed by the fear of needing something in the future because I won’t have the money to replace it. I also hold on to things because I spent money on them, and because money is so tight, I feel guilty about not using something.

I still have not read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, but I did read somewhere that Marie Kondo suggests thanking your items for serving their purpose as a way to help cut emotional ties to them. My knee-jerk reaction was that items are not living things, it’s silly to imagine them in a way that you need to talk to or thank them. But I do believe our energy remains on the items we use and over time that energy can be hard to let go of—especially if it is good energy of positive memories or that of a loved one. The guilty energy surrounding a purchase can also remain. Still, I found that thanking an item does help in letting it go. Not because the item has feelings, but because it allows a ritual that makes disposing of it easier.

I still find myself shopping while bored or extremely tempted to buy things on impulse but at least I’ve been recognizing the urge. Have you tried the three-day trick to stop emotional shopping? You wait three days and if you still are thinking about the item, then at least you know it wasn’t a complete impulse. Often I forget about it within a few hours… I need to progress to the next stage of minimalism haha from Downsizing to Not Buying Things You Don’t Need in the First Place.

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