In november 2013 I posted that I wanted to take a more minimalist approach. I was completely hyped up by the idea of letting go, and feeling unencumbered and free to take on the world. Now, almost one-and-a-half years later, I figured it was time for an update.
So, how did I do?
I can tell you that I got rid of a lot, yet my home is not even near empty. I let go of about eight moving boxes full of books, bags of basically garbage, I got rid of pots and pans, plates, glassware and other kithcen utensils. I downsized on the contents of my pantry, I let go of half my clothes and numerous bins and boxes with small and bigger items and knickknacks.
I had a lot of stuff in storage too at my mums house, and there too I decluttered. I kept most of my books and decorative/sentimental items there, because I had no place for then in my home. Those got drastically reduced as well. I repainted my room at my mum’s house and the only things there now are a rug (that’s soon going to move to my own place) a bed, a clothing cabinet and a nightstand. In our attic I now store only my suitcase (which only contains an empty duffelbag, both for traveling) and a few art projects that are to large to store at my current place, and I can’t get rid of them because I am still at art-school.
For me that is really really good.
But as I said, I wanted to feel free and the internet claimed that getting rid of physical clutter could do that for me. It is like they say, a cluttered house means a cluttered mind. So if I had less possessions, then I could make less of a mess of my house, and thus feel more calm and ‘zen’. This, however, is a bold-faced lie.
I make just as much of a mess now, with my 6 plates as I did when I still had 20 pieces of china, I can turn my clean room into a warfield in mere minutes. I am what I am, and having less stuff did not change me.
However, it did gave me the feeling of control which I did not have before.
As a child, I always felt that whatever I bought, or whatever I was given (and I was given a lot, I was spoiled like a princess) I had to keep it for the rest of my life. I was taught to appreciate everything anyone gave you by keeping it close to you, like every gift was a piece of someones heart. Coming from a frugal family, I was also taught that the only good reason to discard something, is when it is truly broken beyond repair and useless. “A broken table? keep it, you can always make something new out of it” – that is what it seemed like to me anyway. And living in a large farmhouse with the storage capacity of three large regular homes, did not exactly help me with learning to let go.
Going on this ‘minimalism journey’ I learned that it is okay to let go of things, and nothing bad will happen when you don’t keep something for the rest of your life. and even things you do want to keep forever, probably won’t make it anyway, so I shouldn’t be bothered by that and trying to perserve everything.
Since getting rid of so much, I now have space for a set of crystal wineglasses that my grandfather once got because it reminded him of a life he aspired to, a life of luxury basically. These wineglasses have both monetary as well as sentimental value, my mum kept them on display, but never used them in fear that they would break. Now that they are in my cabinet they do get used and I know for sure that they will break over time, one by one. But the purpose of these wineglasses it to be used and enjoyed, not to be stored away. The eventual breaking is just part of that, and I am okay with that. Nothing lasts forever.
Where I am at
Is my life better now? No, not really. But I do feel much more like an adult, and I am no longer possessed by my belongings. Now they serve me, and when they don’t anymore they can find a new home, where they can be loved, instead of filling up mine. And that does make me feel better and much more calm. My possessions no longer burden me, they are just that; some things I own, they give me joy, the feeling of being home, they remind me of good times, they serve me. I also learned that I can live with less, many of my things were ‘what-if’ items, but without them, I’ve been doing just fine.
Do I miss anything I got rid of? Not really, on occasion I catch myself thinking, “oh damn, maybe I should have kept that one thing, it would come in handy now.” but then I realise two things: one, that I can still do without, it hasn’t caused any problems. And two, that for that one item that I do miss, there are about a hundred I really don’t miss that I got rid of at the same time.
I will post a few handy tips and tricks on letting go of stuff in future blogposts. I have to say I’ve read a lot on the subject, and in the meantime I got quite a bit of experience. Maybe it will inspire you to tackle a few problem areas in you life.
Does decluttering make my life free and easy? No, but it did gave me a feeling of control, the decluttering itself is very very satisfying. It makes you feel independent (“I don’need that shi’ in ma laif.”) and I do save time on doing the daily dishes. Oh, and I saved some money in the progress and was able to invest in some high quality things. So overal, it did improve my daily life.