dear minimalism: can I have my home back?

minimalism2

Back in March I wrote this post about minimalism. I told you that “stuff is just stuff” and that “as a culture we’re drowning in the chaos of our material lives, in our anxiety about getting rid of anything we might possibly regret.”

Then, a few days later, I took a step back and revised my original statement in this post. I argued that not all stuff is just stuff. A lot of material goods are useful to have (like tools, kitchen supplies, etc). I decided that if even if I’m moving towards a minimalist lifestyle I shouldn’t feel guilty about keeping items that I actually use on a regular basis.

When I minimized my life last spring I was preparing to move across the country. Everything had to go that wasn’t a necessity, there simply wasn’t space for anything frivolous. I won’t lie – it felt really great. I felt all the feelings that minimalist spokespersons tell us we’ll feel – liberated, less stressed, calmer, etc.

But then I moved into my new apartment last month and unpacked. Now I take back something I said in my first post about minimalism. I claimed that “For the record: I’ve never regretted getting rid of anything.” That’s no longer true.

I miss a lot of the useless stuff I left behind. 

When we unpacked our meager belongings into our tiny one bedroom apartment I was really excited to make a new home. As I said in this recent post, having a comfortable, familiar place to come home to can making moving transitions a lot easier. But it’s hard to make a home when you have no decorations, no pictures or wall hangings, no trinkets, or plants.

I felt guilty when we first went yardsaling. I bought a few pieces of pottery, some frames, even some decorations for the porch I knew I didn’t need. I felt like I was reversing all the progress I made in the spring. I finally got rid of all the stuff I didn’t need, now I was going to turn around and collect more? But I couldn’t help it… our apartment was so depressing and empty.

So, I’m revising my views of minimalism yet again. I don’t care that if accumulate a few things in order to make my house feel like home for two reasons:

  1. I’m not emotionally attached. If I move or hit the road again I won’t feel bad dropping anything off at a thrift store.
  2. They aren’t new things. They’re thrift store items. I’m not spending a lot of money on things I can’t actively use. In fact, I’m saving said items from possibly ending up in a landfill – reuse is an excellent way to reduce waste.

The concept of minimalism exists as a response to our culture’s reliance on consumption and collection. When we constantly buy new things we waste money and contribute to our humongous material waste problem. When we collect too much stuff we face the emotional baggage that I already covered in past posts.

If you’re like me and you need a cute, decorated house to feel at home then hit the yard sale scene, or your local thrift store. You’ll save money, help reduce waste, and still get your shop on.

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1 Comment

  1. Yes. Moderation in all things – including moderation.

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