Friday, October 22, 2010

The Minimalist I've Always Been

The most recent step on the Journey for me is discovering that deep down I have always been a minimalist... I just didn't know it.

Growing up I had a ton of stuff. I had a huge collection of cat figures, toys and dolls, art supplies, clothes, etc. My family was very big on Christmas and birthdays, so at both of these times I would get a ton of toys and new things. These things were most often quantity over quality, and naturally as a child my room was packed to the point of spilling over. This lead to my room always being a consumate MESS. I had so much stuff and my big struggle was that I didn't know where to put anything. Having many things makes it harder to find a place for each thing to call home, though my mom frequently spouted the adage "a place for each thing and a thing for each place" at me. As I progressed towards teenagedom, the situation did not improve. I still had most of the stuff I had when I was younger, but I still was getting more stuff all the time. Then I get a job and - you guessed it - more stuff. By adulthood I already had enough stuff to fill a small storage unit that I was lugging around with me. At present, I have enough to fill a large storage unit (or three small ones).

Learning and reading about minimalism and how others feel about it, I've come to realize that having all that stuff my entire life lead to several major "problems" in my life...

1. It has caused me to seem messy, when I just get overwhelmed by everything that is there.

2. It has caused me depression.

3. It takes me away from my art and the things I love, because I have a constant to-do list in my head that never gets done.

4. It causes me to live outside my means (need a bigger apartment to house it all)and thusly to be afraid of losing/leaving a job that I don't love.

5. Having stuff seemingly fuels buying more stuff... and it's sucking away all the hard earned & saved money I have.

I understand now that all along, deep down, I've needed to have less stuff. I acted the way I was raised to act:

To think that you collect the things that you love and you keep them on a shelf.
You gather as much as possible because once you have it then if you ever need it, it will be there.
Buying a bigger home enables you to have more space and then you can get more stuff.
Shopping is therapy and makes you feel better.
Getting the highest possible paying job (even if you hate it) is important so you can upkeep your lifestyle of having stuff.

But I was acting against my true nature - to have little, to only have the things I truly love, to live in a small comfortable space with no need for extra storage, and to focus on art. I feel better just thinking about it, and every night when I slowly work on going through stuff and sorting it into "sell" "trash" "donate" (almost nothing is going in "keep"), I feel awesome. I dream about having a tiny apartment with nothing but what we use every single day in it. A few special items that mean a lot to us, and nothing else.

I'm also excited to start sleeping on a futon to sleep on someday soon, as I've always hated beds.

I grew up being told that I couldn't function and was not a valuable person, as if there was something wrong with me. At 31, I've learned that there isn't a problem with me, I just wasn't given the tools I needed to keep my life in order.

Self Esteem: +5


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