Winter break my sophomore year of college, I watched The Minimalist’s Documentary, Minimalism: A Documentary about the Important Things. I had spent that whole winter on YouTube watching TedTalk, after TedTalk, about minimalism, decluttering, and simple living. I was hooked. Like many other things I become quickly obsessed with, the excitement of decluttering faded, but I never lost interest in curating a meaningful life.
When starting my junior year something sparked inside of me, and this time it couldn’t be put out. It is a lot easier to think that you have the right amount of things crammed into that tiny apartment when you are living at school, but you can’t forget that you have an entire room at home equally full of things. It was November of 2016 when I saw all those same TedTalks browsing through YouTube one day, and it really hit me that in just a couple years I would be out in the “real world” where I would no longer have the “restraints” of going to school. I put these words “real world” and “restraints” in air quotes because there is no such thing. Your life, where you are right now, is still the real world regardless of your age or any factor other people determine to be limiting in your ability to control your life. With this realization, that every day you make decisions that impact your life, I started the 30 Day Minimalism Game. I was motivated enough on my own to do it myself, and here’s how I started.
I started on November 11, so I had 66 items to get rid of during that first day. Some people may find this daunting, that’s why starting on the first of a month is typically easier, but I was determined to minimize. I started with old class paperwork, things I thought I would need but really didn’t. I still kept all my classwork from courses directly relating to my major, accounting, so that I could use them to help study for my CPA, with the awareness that if I did not use them I would minimize them. Then I tackled clothes and accessories, which was easy for me considering my style of what I thought was cool to wear in college was totally wrong. If I hadn’t worn something in a long time, didn’t like the way it fit, had bad memories associated with it, was part of a Halloween costume, or I didn’t like it, got the axe. And by the axe I mean I let my friends go through them to keep some pieces and I donated the rest. With 66 items under my belt I had the confidence to carry me through the challenge.
Throughout the next nineteen days I got rid of more clothes and accessories, nail polishes, and makeup none of which I used. One really big area of items I reduced was other beauty related items like lotion, perfume, and chapstick. (Is it just me, or are distant relatives’ go-to holiday gifts lotion and chapstick?) I didn’t even realize I had so many consumables that I was carting back and forth from school without even using! I made a resolution to use up chapstick, lotion, and perfumes. Some got thrown out immediately and some I am still working on finishing up. After all, most of the items were still good and I didn’t want to be wasteful.
I continued by getting rid of pens, the ones I always end up finding and keeping, some dishware, mostly tacky plastic cups, and other little trinkets that didn’t add value to my life. By the end of the month I was really struggling to find things to get rid of, my apartment was small after all, but I knew I had a room at home full of items I clearly wasn’t using on a consistent basis. I knew once I got home for winter break I could get rid of some more things and crush the challenge, getting rid of 465 items total.
I can proudly say that when I got home for winter break I was able to complete the challenge, AND I proceeded to get rid of 535 more items for a total of 1,000 belongings. I minimized more clothing, books, more beauty supplies, and more accessories, essentially just more of everything I had gotten rid of in my apartment. I took the time to donate my books to my local library and my assorted items to the thrift store. I felt lighter, freer, more focused, but I knew I wasn’t at my final stage. Since then I have gotten rid of many more items, which I no longer keep track of, and I am looking forward to getting rid of more. It was winter when I decluttered, so I am working through my summer wardrobe right now to see what will make the cut (keep your eyes peeled for a future blog post).
I believe that minimalism is a continuous process. You cannot get rid of all your belongings and expect it to stay that way. Things will begin to accumulate if you do not question each item, asking yourself if it brings value to your life. There were, and still are, many items I have kept around for “just in case”, and I hope to significantly decrease my items in the upcoming year, knowing that when I graduate college a new and exciting stage of my real life is continuing. I do not want to be encumbered with my personal possessions, I want to be able to make active decisions so I can continue to live a meaningful life without consideration of my items. Will you join me?
I know this was a long one so thanks for sticking through to the end. I would love to hear about your minimalism journey, feel free to leave a comment below!