Sometimes, I see people talk about wanting to be done with decluttering, finishing it off, and riding off into the minimalism sunset with not an unwanted or unneeded item in sight. The thing is, that’s just straight up not realistic. If you’re going to pursue minimalish living and all that comes with it, the declutter never ends.
I’m not saying it never gets easier, or never feels like you have less stuff. There’s definitely a difference between the kind of decluttering that happens when you first begin to purge, and the kind of decluttering going on years later. What I am saying is, you never truly reach a point where you are “done.”
Your toiletries will expire, become unusable, or just fade to the back of your drawer or cabinet until you forget they’re there. You will own just a few more clothing items, and a few more that are gifts, and eventually you’ll decide it’s too much and go through them again. Your pantry will end up with a few expired cans of who-knows-what in the back. You’ll need to replace items, and may take a little more time than you’d like to find out how to get rid of the broken or used up versions. The back of your fridge or freezer may become a scary place. You’ll fill notebooks, keep them as a default, and suddenly there are a dozen in a box somewhere with grocery lists and passwords you’ve long since changed. Things break, you’ll plan to fix them, but forget because out of sight often means out of mind and you don’t want to leave broken things out in the open.
When you decide to live a different kind of life, focusing on less stuff and more joy, less busy and more peace, less space and more room, while existing in a materialistic, bigger-equals-better kind of culture, there will never fully come a time when your decluttering will be done. So, if you feel like you’ve been decluttering forever and there’s just no light at the end of the tunnel, this is about where you can breathe a sigh of relief.
You aren’t failing. Your way isn’t wrong. You don’t need to beat yourself up for “missing” so many things the last time you went through this or that area.
This isn’t a tunnel you eventually drive out of. This is a path to walk. Sometimes it’s the easiest thing in the world and sometimes it’s a little uncomfortable, but it’s not a race to an imaginary perfect finish. It’s a way to go about the journey.
This week, I’m getting rid of more stuff, just shy of a year after I finished what I consider my big purge. A yoga mat that no longer works for what I do, a couch that hasn’t fit our needs for a while now, some old workout pants I found that are several years old and sizes too small, souvenir t-shirts from places I’ve forgotten that aren’t comfortable enough to wear anymore. I’m also continuing to work through old stashes of things that I’ve kept to use up before buying more, finishing up a shower gel from last Christmas and some teas I bought years ago that were lost to the backs of cabinets and some pasta that came with us when we moved last May.
Living life uncluttered is a constant process of decluttering. It gets easier, it gets less intense, it gets less time consuming, but unless you plan on moving to a cabin in the woods by yourself with only the bare essentials, it’s unlikely to ever truly end.
There’s beauty in the process.