Through my friend Lisa, I found out about this minimalism game, in which you spend a month decluttering your home. On the first day of the month, you get rid of one thing. On the second day, two things. Third day, three things. And so on until the end of the month.
Lisa decided to complete this game in February, and I wanted to play along with her. While I didn’t think I had 435 items to purge, the experiment intrigued me enough to want to play along.
I should say that I have been on a mission of living with less for a few years now. I get it: minimalism is the “cool thing” to do now (at least in Internet circles), but I’ve never been someone who likes clutter or finds enjoyment in owning things. Some people do, and honestly, that’s fine. If organized chaos is your jam, then that’s awesome. You do you.
For me, clutter makes me anxious and I believe everything needs to have a place. If something does not have a place, then it makes me question why I’m owning it.
Truthfully, we keep a lot of stuff we don’t need because we think we “should” own it. One of the easiest examples of this is with books. I think it’s safe to say that I am a major bookworm, but one thing you won’t find in my home is a bookshelf. That’s right – I am a bookworm that doesn’t own very many books. In fact, I can fit my entire book collection on my nightstand. And I hesitate to call this a collection because one book is for a blog review, another for Postal Book Club, and the two Harry Potter tomes were loaned to me from a friend. (So, these books won’t be in my home for very long.)
I should own books, right? I love to read! What more bookworm-y thing is there than bookshelves stuffed with books? And yet… I don’t feel as if I need to own books. There are a few reasons why. I rarely buy books, preferring to frequent the library or buy digital when necessary. I rarely reread and don’t see much of a point of holding onto a book that will just grow dusty on a shelf. And when I did own a bookshelf stuffed with books, it felt more like something I needed to keep because I was a reader and readers have bookshelves.
But when I packed up my books – all of them – and took them to my local library, I felt free. I felt as if I had lifted this heavy weight from my shoulders. This weight that said I should own something because of XYZ reason.
From then on, I really began to examine the stuff I kept. Dozens and dozens of shoes? Why? I’m not much of a shoe person, so out they went and now, I have seven pairs I rotate around. Jewelry? I don’t even like to wear jewelry and haven’t worn any of my necklaces in months. See ya. Purses? Clothes? Beauty products? Odds and ends? Unless I had a reason to keep them, good riddance.
When I moved back in September, I purged many of my belongings. In the end, my entire life fit into just a few boxes. And then, a month into living in Tampa, I did another purge because my closet felt overwhelming. I filled up an entire garbage bag of stuff that I thought I “needed.”
It’s amazing how much we think we need, but how much we really don’t.
So, this February purge. I figured I still had stuff I needed to let go of. And I found stuff. Little things. Beauty products that were almost used up or I no longer needed, shirts that had seen the wash a few too many times and were misshapen, pens, bobby pins, expired medicine, dog clothing I’d never put on Dutch, headbands, out-of-shape elastics, and on and on.
Fifty-five things I found.
Until Friday, February 12.
I looked around my bathroom, opening cabinets and pulling out drawers. Nothing. I use all of this.
I looked around my bedroom, peering inside my nightstand. Nothing. I use all of this.
I looked inside my walk-in closet, taking down boxes, inspecting my shoe bin, looking through my purses. Nothing. I use all of this.
I looked in the kitchen, opening cabinets and doors. Nothing. I use all of this.
It came to a point where I looked around my home and I realized I am living with less.
I am living with exactly what I need.
I am not keeping things around because I think I should keep them.
I am keeping things around because I use them or they hold value to me, like my great-grandma’s Bible.
What this minimalism challenge taught me was that I am living my minimalist life. It’s not something I’m striving for, but something I’m doing. Sure, as the challenge shows, I had some things to get rid of. But little things. I’m not hoarding books or shoes or clothing or knick-knacks or things I think I need to keep but don’t actually need.
It’s a pretty spectacular feeling, knowing you’re living your minimalist life.