“Do you regret getting rid of anything?” This is the question that I receive the most from friends and family who have watched me over the last few years downsize my possessions and embrace a more minimal aesthetic. And the answer is no. I have not regretting getting rid of anything. I haven’t missed one item yet that I have decluttered.
This is amazing on the surface. It means that I didn’t need those items in my life. Right? No—not exactly. I needed the items when I purchased them. And then I got used to having them in my life. But I wasn’t using them anymore. I stored them away. They took up space in my closet and drawers and made it harder to find the items that I currently needed to use.
Take clothing for example. I decluttered (donated or gave to family/friends) items that I had not worn in years. Bags full of things. Yet I still have a full closet. I’m not lacking in any category.
What effect did all of this decluttering achieve? It expanded my wardrobe, although that sounds strange to say. Instead of wearing the same 10 or so outfits, I was able to “see” all of the clothing I owned. Since all of the items “spark joy,” I want to wear them. And now I do find ways to include the items in my daily wardrobe.
Another question I get from my friends a lot: “Is that a new shirt/blouse/jacket?” And up until this point, the answer is: “No. I purchased it years ago. I just hadn’t gotten around to wearing it yet.” And last year, when I didn’t buy any new clothing items, it was fun to say “I haven’t purchased any new clothes this year.” (Full disclosure: I did buy a pair of sneaker-type walking shoes for exercising and will be purchasing a pair this year as well. This fits into my low-buy year as items that I use up/wear out and need to repurchase.)
Does this make me a minimalist? I’m not really sure. There are a lot of definitions of this word thrown about in blogs, social media, and in the news. Some people say a minimalist can only own 100 items or less, or only possess a 50 -item wardrobe. Some will go as far as to remove all labels from boxes or items to decrease the clutter in their lives. (This step is discussed in Marie Kondo’s book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up in one of the “client” sections about combating anxiety). These steps are a bit too far for me in my own decluttering journey, although I recognize that they are perfectly valid for other people.
Everyone needs to live life on his/her own terms.
As another example—I just counted and I have 75 items on my work desk. All of these items are necessary—like my computer monitors—or spark joy—like my Godzilla cup holder that I use to store a can of compressed air to clean my keyboard. Some are books I use for my employment or for reference. There are pads of paper and pens/pencils in a DIY cup holder I made. A case for my computer glasses. A glass water bottle. A few organic mints. A hand cream and lip balm. A keyboard, mouse pad, modem, microphone, and a statue of Anubis—just the average, everyday stuff of life for a working writer.
And my hodag writing buddy. Can’t forget him.
So I don’t think I’m a minimalist, although I am working to minimize the amount of “stuff” in my life. I’m striving to be a conscious consumer. To keep things that are useful or “spark joy” and eliminate the rest.
Whether you’re just starting your decluttering journey or if you’ve been at it for years, I hope you will learn from your experiences and continue to discover new ways to live life simply.
P.S. If you want to see a photo of my statue of Anubis, leave a comment below letting me know and I will share it in a future blog post.