I’m preparing to move (again), and right now, it’s just about the only thing on my mind. It’s super stressful for me to move because I still have way too much stuff. I’ve been on my minimalism journey now since late 2016, and I’m STILL in the process of getting rid of stuff.
Despite what may be shown on YouTube and in blogs online, becoming a minimalist, or simply downsizing is a very long process. It’s not as simple as “sell all of your stuff,” trust me. It takes time, energy, and determination to go through years worth of possessions to figure out what you want to keep, sell, toss, or leave behind.
I have tried a few different methods during my journey. When I realized I was overwhelmed by stuff, I was living in a large, 2-story, 4-bedroom home. Like most people, I started off by trying to simply “organize” all of my stuff. That was a never-ending process that resulted in countless trips to the Container Store, where I seemed to go only to collect more containers, which were, in themselves, more stuff.
While scouring YouTube, I discovered the “KonMari” method of getting rid of stuff. That method involved tossing things that didnt’ “spark joy.” That method helped. A lot.
The KonMari method is a method created by Japanese author Marie Kondo. In her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, she shares how method of cleaning and decluttering that leads to a simpler, more satisfying lifestyle.
I got rid of tons of stuff using the KonMari method. But, it wasn’t quite enough. Actually, looking back at it now, I didn’t really internalize Marie’s message. I was so excited to get started on the process, that I skimmed the reasoning behind her method.
I’m currently in the process of re-reading her book, for real this time.
What really changed things for me was watching the Netflix documentary, Minimalism. As an avid YouTube watcher, I had heard of minimalism before. But, I didn’t exactly know what it was all about. After watching the documentary, I realized that not only was “stuff” causing me to be disorganized, it was actually blocking me from fulfilling my true purpose.
The time, effort, money, and energy I was putting into maintaining stuff was keeping me from pursuing my passions. Moving towards a more minimalist lifestyle changed my life for the better. I really want to share my full minimalism story, but it’s still forming right now.
You see, although I sold my house, got rid of over half of my possessions, and stopped buying so much stuff, I still didn’t get rid of enough things.
I still have too many papers, pictures, sentimental items, mementos, t-shirts from old races I ran, and DVDs and CDs that I will never watch or play again.
In my family, I’ve always been the “keeper of memories.” I take pictures and save keepsakes that often bring back fond memories. For some reason, I’ve always felt like it was my job to hold onto these things.
I’m able to put them away in a box, and let them sit as clutter in a closet or an open space for months and years at a time. Rarely, if ever, does anyone ever go looking for these items. But, I still feel the need to keep them and I don’t know why.
It took me years to finally shred and toss old hospital bills from when my son was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Although those papers brought back negative memories, I still didn’t want to let them go. When I finally got rid of those old papers, it was like a weight was lifted off of me.
But, I still didn’t let go of all of the things that brought back negative memories.
Just yesterday, I was attempting to go through a box of stuff when I came upon paperwork that sparked a negative memory. I immediately stopped going through the boxes. They are still sitting there staring at me, and I have to move again in two weeks.
This time last year, I had just survived the ravages of Hurricane Harvey and successfully sold my house. This time last year, I tossed lots of stuff and made a fresh start in my life. This time last year, I would have never guessed that I would still having such a difficult time letting go of things.
I have watched dozens and dozens of videos about minimalism and very rarely do people talk about how painful the process is of letting go.
I think that many of the videos I watch are filmed by very young people who may not yet have lived a hard life, or stored up as many negative emotions tied up with things.
Some are moving from roommate situations, or from their parents’ homes, and didn’t really have too many possessions to begin with.
Some people have a mate to help them make tough decisions about what to keep or what to let go. I have to make most of these decisions all on my own.
The next two weeks are going to be about making tough decisions and letting go of more stuff. Not just for the sake of becoming more minimalist. But, for the sake of not being burdened by stuff that I really don’t want anymore, and much of which brings back negative memories.
I feel bad about letting things go because I know that there are people who don’t have enough. I know that the things I sell (or sometimes toss) are things that would enhance other people’s lives. I try to donate as much as possible (clothes, books, even electronics).
But, some of this stuff really just needs to be thrown away. I have been holding onto stuff that’s broken, worn-out, and some of it is really just plain useless.
I have furniture that I honestly hate, and that definitely does not spark joy. My actual bedroom set, while beautiful, doesn’t fit who I am anymore. I bought it when I was moving into my house because I though the ornate furniture fit in with who I was supposed to be.
But, I’m not her anymore, whoever she was supposed to be.
I imagine my next apartment to be a beautiful, minimalist, clutter-free space where I can think clearly and create. I imagine it reflecting who I am – an idealist working mom and creator, who aspires to fulfill her full potential and help others do the same.
I’m putting some time aside in the next couple of days to regroup, then gear up to organize, de-clutter, and let some things go so I can prepare for my move, and to keep moving forward.