What Minimalism Isn’t (to me)

It’s been about a year now since I began my minimalist journey– or rather, my wannabe-minimalist journey.

I’ve gotten rid of a lot of stuff, mostly clothes, and I’ve reworked a lot of my schedule to reflect a more simplified lifestyle.

One of the reasons I call myself a “Wanna-be” Minimalist is not simply because I am semi-new at this, but because minimalism has become quite the craze as of late, and I think certain images on Pinterest or posts on Minimalist Facebook groups are very misleading as to what minimalism actually is.

These images can mostly be found on Pinterest and depict sparsely yet artfully decorated living spaces that are extremely clean and extremely white. They show images of capsule wardrobes with very specific styles with items of clothing that are mostly gray, black, cream, and denim. Most of these images are very modern looking, and monochrome, as well as probably unrealistic.

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But this isn’t real minimalism.

Minimalism is not owning “minimalist things”; it’s owning less. Minimalism should not prompt you to go out and buy things– that’s the opposite of the point. I’ve seen posts online that show you what pieces you should find for your capsule wardrobe, when really, the only place you should “find” pieces for your capsule wardrobe is in your own closet.

You don’t have to have a completely sleek and modern style or white walls to be a minimalist in your decorating.

I love this quote by William Morris: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” I have come to use this as my “minimalist motto” when it comes to home decor. There are certainly things I have in my house which are not exactly as functional as they are beautiful, and I keep them around because I appreciate beauty. Also, the beauty I appreciate in my particular home happens to not fit that “minimalist style”. I have pretty eclectic taste, and I love stained wood, multi-colored pillows, local art (and some of my own art), and antique mirrors and signs. I dislike the “cluttered” look, but love a home that feels cozy and inviting.

To be a minimalist, you don’t have to have a 36-piece capsule wardrobe for each season, and it doesn’t have to be a boring style even if you do.

I see lots of blog posts about the capsule wardrobe and how to create one. There are even apps for creating a capsule. I will admit, I did go down to 10 hangers for an entire month last year, but overall, I find the capsule to be too much work.

I don’t usually want to spend time changing out seasonal wardrobes, and so much of what I own in the clothing category can be used for all seasons anyway. So, I went on a mission to create an “all-seasons 50-hanger capsule”… and then I got pregnant. So now I’ve had to add a few maternity pieces, thus totally putting me over 50 hangers, and also, half of my cute little workout tanks don’t fit my belly or boobs anymore… *sigh*.

Other capsule wardrobe bloggers will tell you to stick to one style, usually very classic and simple so that you can pair them with other items in your closet. While I do think this is decent advice, it does nothing to help the eclectic and stylish dresser who loves new trends and different colors. So don’t throw away all your boho shirts and bright leggings just to be considered a minimalist! Just focus on owning less clothing in general. It’s okay to have different styles if that’s what you’re into.

If I defined minimalism as having only a certain amount of hangers in my closet, or only a certain style of clothing, I most certainly would fail.

Being a minimalist also doesn’t mean that you can’t try out different toys, gadgets, gear, or games for your family. Whether it’s an immersion blender that you use every day for your smoothie, a baby swing that keeps your infant quiet (even though it takes up a lot of space in your living room), or a gaming console that your husband uses to play Battlefield and Fifa (no, just my hubby?… okay then), you need to find what works for your family and what is essential, or even just convenient for your daily functions and happiness.

Maybe these things won’t make the “essentials” list for the “average” minimalist, or even the average wanna-be-minimalist, but if they make your life easier and you enjoy them, then there is no need to cut them out.

Minimalism is not about making your life harder for the sake of simplicity.

Oftentimes, getting rid of something can actually complicate your life. For example, getting rid of that toaster oven your minimalist “friend” on Instagram told you was nonessential actually might make your mornings more of a hassle when you’re trying to figure out how to warm up your kid’s bagel for breakfast.

Because I‘m currently expecting my first child, I have watched countless youtube videos that review different baby products and lists of kid “essentials” for the first few years. What I’ve come to conclude is that every family is totally different and finds different combinations of products to be useful. Some of the things that made it onto “Minimalist Mom’s Essentials” also showed up in “Top 10 Useless Baby Products”. My list of “must-haves” may be well researched, considered, and whittled down to only what I truly believe I will need, but I still may need to rush out to Target and buy a baby bath tub, and I may never use the baby carrier wrap I’ve been eyeing for the past 7 months I’ve been pregnant.

This doesn’t end with baby products though. You can find similar YouTube videos and blog posts on “essential” kitchen appliances, accessories, children’s games, decor items, makeup and skincare products… the list goes on.

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These are the ONLY products that apparently every minimalist should have in their kitchen. Yeah… right.

Moral of the story: Find what works to make your life simple yet quality. Stick with that. 

Don’t fuss with other things if what you have is already working for you. But also don’t feel pressured to pair down just for the sake of pairing down. Minimalism is about simplicity, not racking your brain to figure out what you can get rid of– that’s not simplicity.

In reality, minimalism looks different for everyone. And it looks different from what it posted on social media and the web. That’s because a lot of minimalism can’t even be captured with a camera.

Minimalism, to me, also has to do with simplifying your commitments, schedule, and job. Cutting out access “things” is helpful, and will save you money and time and effort in the long run, but it won’t help you nearly as much as clearing out your life of “busy-ness”.

Minimalism is more than what you see. It’s clearing out emotional clutter by cutting off toxic relationships that you don’t need. It’s saying “no” to things that would add unnecessary stress to your day. It’s learning to let go of good choices to make room for the best choices. It’s taking a job that pays less simply because it gives you more joy and less stress.

I’m still figuring this whole minimalism thing out, but if there’s anything I’ve learned along this journey it’s these things. Am I perfect at it? Oh no. But I suppose that I never will be– that I’ll always be a “wanna-be” and that I’ll keep figuring out what this lifestyle is and isn’t by trial and error.

I invite to you share this journey with me. What is minimalism to you? And what is it not? Comment and let me know what you think!

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