As I look back through my articles over the years, it seems that I have been chasing a more simple lifestyle for longer than I can remember. In December of 2010, I wrote an article called De-cide to De-clutter – Minimalism – part one, and then another in March of 2013 called De-cide to De-clutter – Minimalism – part two, and these articles came long after I had begun my original quest years before. Now, about six years later, I find myself still on the quest to de-clutter, minimize, and simplify my surroundings, schedule, and life. I am finding that this is a life-long quest that may actually never come to an end.
About three years ago, the internet introduced me to a couple of individuals who call themselves The Minimalists. The Minimalists consist of two life-long friends who have left the corporate world and the pursuit of things in order to live and maintain a more simplistic lifestyle that we have come to call minimalism. As soon as I read their blog or essays as they call them, started listening to their many podcasts, and started watching a few of their videos, you could say that I quickly became a big fan.
Over the years, I have learned quite-a-bit about myself through this quest to minimalism. I have found that I am not a person who can live with nothing. If you look at the title of this article, you will notice that I said, “The pursuit of minimalism…” Technically, I am not a minimalist as some would describe it. I guess you could say that I am chasing minimalism. I like things, and I have a few things that I am just not willing to part with yet.
All of this is ok because I know that I have changed in a big way. The way that I look at my things is different now. I don’t treat my things the same way that I used to. Things no longer own me. I own them. I tell them what to do, and if I decide that I don’t like something or that it is not serving any purpose that I have, I no longer feel compelled to keep the item, no matter how much I paid for it or who gave it to me, and I don’t second guess myself or feel guilty about getting rid of something that I no longer want, need, or no longer serves any purpose in my life.
In the beginning, pursuing the minimalism process seemed painless, but it was anything but. Getting to a place where I was comfortable getting rid of things was not an easy task. It quickly became very grueling, and what I learned is that I had a genuinely hard time letting go of stuff. I allowed my things to define me–who I am or who I thought it allowed me to be. I found myself thinking that certain items defined my personality or showed others who I was or wanted to be.
At first, as things began to leave the house, I would feel my heart pounding, and I would break out into a light sweat. I found that my emotions were all tied up in these things. It seemed that I had actually attached personalities to these items because on many occasions, after making a donation, I literally felt as if they were crying out to me, begging me not to leave them behind. I even found myself crying over a few stupid, very insignificant items, and this became another huge wake-up call for me. I knew that this could not be a physically or emotionally healthy place for me to be, and I knew that I needed to have a hold on my stuff and not allow my stuff to have a hold on me. Getting rid of these items became an exercise that began to set me free. It allowed me to experience freedom in ways that I could not have predicted, even in other areas of my life, and I no longer have the minor panic attacks that I used to have in the beginning. I simply leave my things behind and move on.
I have felt my attitude toward things dramatically change over the years. This has been an extremely large process that I needed to work through, one that I really never saw coming in the beginning. I am happy to announce that I have moved away from a place of panicking when letting go of items to a place of never giving them a second thought. I feel that I have come a long way in my journey and am truly at a place where I can finally move on with, or without, my stuff.