A while back, Becoming Minimalist used to feature stories of readers and their specific personal journeys into minimalism… some of their stories even ended up in our book, Simplify. Their stories encouraged us, challenged us, and reminded us of the importance of the journey.
And even though we have long since ended the series, a number of stories have trickled in over the years as readers have stumbled across our Share Your Story page hidden deep in the archives. Some of the stories are too good to keep to ourselves. So we’ve decided to post five – one every day this week. We hope you enjoy reading them as much as we enjoyed receiving them. Today’s post is the final one.
I described my bedroom when I was 17 as ‘organized chaos’. I remember sitting there asking my lifelong best friends if they thought the condition of our rooms reflected who we were on the inside. They didn’t really think so but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was right. I certainly felt better when I cleaned it. Or did I clean it because I felt better?
The following year, I moved into a teeny tiny studio on the beach with one of those friends. Our beds were touching in an L-shape and doubled as couches. We lived walking distance from the beach and work (gas was $4.00 a gallon at this time and I didn’t notice) and were able to leave all the clutter at home… besides our clothes. Our cute shoebox of a studio was swallowed in clothing, we were even using the back seat of my car as another closet… and we still never had anything to wear. During this time we discovered The Secret and let it change our way of thinking and thus our lives. Being with my best friend in a shoebox on the beach, we talked a lot, were always learning, and expressed our gratitude daily and it felt like more than enough to make us happy. We would say we were making the good ol’ days.
At 19, I moved up to college and let my parents do much of the packing, but the next summer when I was moving home was a wake up call. I filled a 5×10 storage unit from floor to ceiling with STUFF. After that move I realized how normal people think it is to live this way, and how I would never, ever do it again.
That was last summer. I’m 21 now and 24 days away from moving back up to school. I’ve spent this whole year purging, realizing after too long that I was still consuming like crazy! In 24 days when I leave, everything I own will fit into the back of my 2-door Chevy Cobalt. I signed a lease in a furnished townhouse this year, and will no longer own any of my furniture, which was enough to furnish a 2-bedroom house. My closet is at least 5 garbage bags worth of clothes lighter and my DVD’s gone. Until this past week I never thought I could give up my flat screen, but I’m really beginning to want to. I’m not done yet, I need the next 24 days, and every one of them, but the peace of mind and stillness I’ve been seeking is in sight.
I don’t know why, but it is so hard to look at your stuff sometimes and really SEE what you have. These things become the backdrop of our daily lives, their energy a constant weight, be it positive or negative. When you start to touch these things and move them and bring back the memories you associate with them, you begin to feel the overwhelming physical and emotional baggage even one item can put on you. I have been so overwhelmed with excess, even right now, but the only way to be set free is to let go.
Minimalism gives me my identity back. I don’t have to look through clutter to find ‘me’ anymore.