It’s official: every single thing I own either resides in my apartment or my car.
(Unless you count a sweater I forgot at my mom’s. 🤷♀️)
Earlier this year, I moved apartments, and my partner and I decided to downsize as we got an apartment that was all our own. I had been living in a 1,100 square foot apartment with a previous roommate, who had very decidedly not embraced the KonMari mindset or anything of the sort. It was stressful, exhausting to clean, and not particularly space or energy efficient. It was exactly what I needed when I needed it, but as we moved we knew we wanted to move to something a little smaller. I sold or gave away half my furniture, we found lots of trash that just hadn’t made its way out yet, and took several SUV-loads off to donation centers as we prepared for the move. We decided on a 670 square foot unit, with the goal of giving it a shot and, worst case scenario, renting a storage unit and/or moving somewhere larger at the end of our lease.
Surprisingly, it ended up being much easier than we thought! We had some wonderful family members and friends help us move everything we decided to keep, and it all fit quite comfortably in our new home once unpacked. Even through the unpacking process, we found things that could still be gotten rid of. I love ice cream as much as anyone, but we don’t need 2 ice cream scoops; why on earth did I still have this souvenir shirt from an event I didn’t even like; there were still a lot of things that we found and didn’t really want or need. So, we continued minimizing, and I continued bringing things up from my childhood home that, two years after moving out, we were still finding in closet and corners. This last weekend, I brought home (what we are pretty sure was) the last box. Every last thing I own is here with me.
Since downsizing and minimizing and KonMari-ing everything I could get my hands on, life truly has gotten a lot easier. People pursue minimalism for all kinds of reasons. Some of the most common being eco-minimalists, whose focus is on reducing waste, consumption, and carbon footprint; financial minimalists, whose focus is reducing mindless spending and simplifying financial well-being through minimizing what they spend on and where their money is; and mindful minimalists, whose focus is on developing mindful habits and achieving emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being by accumulating fewer possessions. There are many more motivations, and most people don’t fit cleanly into one category, but these are a few of the most common themes that I’ve seen while researching!
For me, I wanted a little bit of everything minimalism had to offer. I wanted to only have things I loved, and not keep things out of guilt or fear; I wanted to avoid the pitfalls of accumulating possessions only to inevitably have to downsize later in life, putting unnecessary strain on me and my family; I wanted to save money by not spending on things that really wouldn’t matter to me; and so much more. So, I began, little by little, slowly at first and slowly getting better. For a long time, it felt like I was treading water instead of actually making progress. I would get rid of so. much. stuff. only to have it pile back up again. Slowly but surely, though, it’s added up. Minimalism isn’t really something you just pick up and decide to do one day, checking the box for a lifetime. It’s a series of small, conscious choices to create a life you love with less instead of filling it with stuff. It’s deciding, no, I don’t need to stock up on this or that item, I prefer a clean and organized fridge and pantry. No, I don’t need that new makeup product every YouTube channel is raving about, I’ll finish what I have before buying more. No, I don’t need every seasonal “limited edition” scent of soap or cleaner, I’ll use up what I have. No, I don’t need to keep this shirt that will never fit me again, I can pass it along to the next owner. No, I don’t need to keep every scrap of trash that accumulates that seems sentimental, I can digitize and pass on.
Some of the perks of minimalism, I expected. Less clothing = less laundry to do; fewer phone apps = longer battery life and less overwhelm when looking for things; fewer physical items = more space to do things. The direct impact of reducing possessions is beautiful and such a huge relief, but there are less direct impacts too! Now that I know that there aren’t more boxes coming, and that it’s all here, it’s been a weight off to know that all my possessions are cleaned, organized, maintained, and stored in an accessible, small space. Moving three times over the last two years has given me the opportunity to sort through things as I pack, each time leaving a little bit more behind. Still, as I’ve been living in the same place for a few months, I keep combing through things and giving away things that I don’t need or want anymore. Passing jewelry I never wear on to friends, giving skincare items that didn’t work well for me to people who will enjoy them, and today, sending off my “closet clean-out” kit from thredUP with bags, shoes, and clothes that I don’t love anymore, but I’m sure someone else will. It’s a constant editing process, but I love it, and it is certainly more fun than the stress of constant maintenance for lots and lots of stuff.