Chapter IV: Minimalism is Not For Everyone
“It’s quite simple: to be a minimalist you must live with less than 100 things, you can’t own a car or a home or a television, you can’t have a career, you must live in exotic hard-to-pronounce places all over the world, you must start a blog, you can’t have children, and you must be a young white male from a privileged background.” ~Millburn & Nicodemus
Minimalism is not for everyone. It is not a lifestyle you should pressure your family and friends into trying. Minimalism may provide benefits, and some people have never found a negative in minimalism. In fact, minimalism can be a decent lifestyle, but if you are not committed to minimalism it can be devastating to our life. Instead of throwing things out willy-nilly, take stock of what possessions are important to you.
Minimalism has many parameters. Going from owning 10,000 things to only owning 7,000 can be minimalism. Cleaning out your closet to contain only one t-shirt may be minimalism to you. Your lifestyle is a totally personal choice. If you have a particular personality trait, however, you should never consider minimalism. For example:
Collectors. If you own a collection of items and these possession bring you joy, this collection is part of your personality. No one should talk you into throwing away you collections. You will be miserable and come to resent your newfound way of life. For example, a good friend down the road has a collection of over 1000 salt and pepper shakers. If she were to throw them away, a part of her life would be thrown away with her collection. Perhaps she should stop purchasing more salt and pepper shakers, but this stuff are her memories from her world travels.
Fashionistas. Fashion is a part of a personality. If it fits and you love it; keep it. It is your choice what passions to keep. When your job or career depends on how you dress, keep all the fashions that match your job. You never know when you will need a piece of clothing for a project. Organize your closet to keep you fashions easy to find.
If you are a photographer, you should never throw away equipment. It does not matter if you have a plethora of cameras and lighting equipment; they are important to your well-being. Keep them, organize them, and love them. The same with photographs, you should not let the minimalism lifestyle dictate what pictures you throw away and which ones you keep.
Mechanics need stuff. What would happen if you threw away your tools to make room for experiences? You would shortly be out of a job and a great deal of money.
If you are on a relationship break, it might not be a good idea to throw out every item that reminds you of your ex-significant other. You never know when or if you get back together. If would be so devastating to the other partner if they discovered you had thrown away that Oriental vase they so lovingly bought for you.
Children should not be forced into a minimalist lifestyle. The possessions they hold are their security nets. Children’s rooms are their havens and to them minimalism is just a word. Children will eventually de-clutter their lives. Let them make the choice between minimalism and materialism when they understand the terms, and when they are much older.
Your loved ones may support you in your minimalist lifestyle, but they have their own preferences and experiences. They are on a different path and materialism may be their preference. Sharing an opinion and offering an option about de-cluttering, organizing and simplifying is great, but demanding that your loved ones join you on the minimalism journey is not good. Conflicts between family members and heated arguments can happen.
Don’t force your minimalist ideas on your roommates. If your roommate wants to purchase hundreds of shoes, music or cooking utensils, that is awesome. Preferences are what makes a person.
If you are a family man or woman, minimalism is not a good idea. Giving up all your possessions will take away a place to call home. The things you are quite attached to will be gone, or you will have to rent a storage unit.
A highly competitive person can be dangerous with minimalism. Mankind has a deeply-rooted drive to compete with each other and advertising capitalizes on this impulse. What do you take pride in? Purchasing the newest thing gives you the right to belong to the club of consumers. You are measured on what you have. For a moment your life’s problems are gone because you have stuff. Now turn to minimalism. You are that person who looks down on everyone who owns things. You compete with your neighbors to see who can get rid of stuff the fastest. You don’t think about what you are doing; only the end result. After the “game” is over you sit and look around you. There is nothing more to get rid of and your life is empty. Now you start the competition again. You begin to purchase what you threw out. A vicious cycle begins all over (Smith, 2013).
If you want to give your children an awesome future and if you are a minimalist, it will be difficult to save for your children’s education or even help them when they need a place to stay. Making sure they learn without being bullied for their lifestyle or clothes requires a nesting place and stuff.
Life is a balance and taking minimalism too far disturbs that balance. “Flowing too much in the direction of simplicity could lead you to feeling deprived” (minimalismissimple, 2015).
A good point to make, “When you call yourself a minimalist, everything you do will be instantly be steeped in irony” (Millburn & Nicodemus, 2015). Do you really want to have people think of you as a hypocrite? They will if you have more than one pair of shoes or drive a car or own a blowdryer.
Find a balance in living that becomes you. You don’t need to reject every item that is given to you to keep your life simple. Instead, carefully choose what you will allow into your life. Thinking about what to purchase and what ideals to follow is a good motto to follow in every aspect of your life. If you deprive yourself, you may find that you are unsatisfied and unhappy. Unhappiness could lead to splurges and a vicious cycle of minimalism versus materialism begins.
Keep your possessions. Materialism and having possessions is a decision. It is a choice to live in today’s culture. Advertising, marketing campaigns, and corporations exist for you to consume, collect and purchase. Every message heard in advertisements promotes being happy if you have the latest and greatest in appliances, cars, homes, furnishing, and fashions. The world’s economy runs on materialism.
Suddenly discovering you need to get rid of possessions may enact a terrible price from you. You have always known where your recycling bin or garbage can is, but you still have your possessions. Decluttering is good for the soul, but only if it is your decision. Being forced to get rid of possessions hurts, and who wants to hurt?
Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things you value and removing anything that is a distraction from your life. You will need to identify the essentials and prioritize those essentials. Minimalism will demand that you come to the realization that you have spent much of your life pursuing things that are not that valuable. Materialism will help you justify keeping those possessions.
Do you really want to rock your view of society, you lifestyle, your relationships or areas of your life that you never thought possible? Or do you enjoy what you have? The world invents, produces, promotes and purchases material possessions to keep the economy running. We love stuff. Stuff is security, needed to impress neighbors and prove your worth. If you want to change your view of possessions, become a minimalist, but if you are happy with your view of society, culture, and its messages stay where you are.
People who have become minimalists have said that they wish they had never taken the step. Testimonials from Melissa, Di and Christine say “l live without means and I don’t get to live life as freely as others. My family and friends are non-supportive. There are times when I thought I’d never survive. Being a minimalist complicates my life. I need my things back.”
Try and have an open mind when someone is talking to you about minimalism. They might love their perspective, but not everyone is interested in living the same lifestyle, and that’s what makes life interesting. If a minimalist constantly tells you what is wrong with your possession filled life, just let them talk. Do support them in their lifestyle, but remember that you are happy owning stuff.
Practical minimalism might be your means to a comfortable and fulfilling existence. Downsize your stuff if it will make sense for you and your lifestyle. Avoid throwing away and decluttering without thinking through the issues, and never get rid of your stuff when you are angry. If you would like to live a simple lifestyle that is awesome, but take the “religious fervor” out of the movement and make the transition at your own pace.