A few “things” keep me from being a minimalist, and it’s not just my curtains or my junk drawer. I’ve been so inspired by minimalists over the years like Joshua, Bea, and Francine. I’ve poured over minimalist homes and have been so encouraged and inspired by stories of minimalists. I’ve even gone through our own things and made some hard choices to let go of the excess.
Yet, we’re still not minimalists. I even cringe a little when people call me that, lest they see our closets and cupboards and judge us for some not-so-minimalist choices. So here I am, caring about simplifying, sometimes even struggling through it, but never quite measuring up to minimalism. Perhaps you can relate.
I still think people like you and me have a place in the simplifying journey… even if minimalism doesn’t describe us or isn’t our end goal. That doesn’t count us out. For me, the term simple offers a little more of the grace and flexibility I’m aiming for. Sure, simple could be Joshua’s, Bea’s, and Francine’s minimalist homes. It can also look like Myquillyn’s cozy minimalism or Maxwell’s collection of apartments or even our own messy and imperfect family-friendly space.
We’re not typical minimalists, and don’t really plan to be. It’s easy to blame American Consumerism, the kids, or a non-minimalist spouse on my not being a minimalist after all these years. The truth, though, is that it’s myself keeping me from being a minimalist. Here’s a few reasons why.
1. My ideal of simple isn’t exactly minimal.
We all have different definitions of simple and that’s okay. The term “minimalist” has sometimes felt like an extreme that I can’t measure up to. Minimal means the least possible amount. Truth is, we could do with a lot less than we currently have. While I plan to get rid of more, I’m not sure that we’ll ever fit into a general standard of “least possible,” and that’s okay with me. It’s more important that I reach my vision and ideal for our life and home than to fit a minimalist ideal.
2. I don’t need to keep up with the Joneses. Even if they’re minimalists.
A big part of simplifying is living your best life and worrying less about what others have or are doing. Minimalists believe that, too. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to find ourselves lost in trying to keep-up. Even if it’s “good” things we’re trying to keep up with like getting rid of the excess. It’s not good to get caught in comparisons and feeling like we don’t measure up to someone else’s ideal. That’s how I sometimes feel even when simplifying–like I’m struggling keeping up with keeping our home “minimal enough.” I applaud and am inspired by others’ simple, but I don’t want their end result to make me feel like mine is inferior if I choose to keep a little more than the minimum needed.
3. I’m making lifelong changes rather than taking temporary drastic measures.
I see simplifying as most other life changes–the more realistic and doable, the more likely they will be maintained. We’ve seen it with fad diets, unrealistic exercise plans, and most other goals that come around every New Year. My ideal of simple may have seemed a little drastic and unreachable a few years ago, but consistent changes in our shopping habits and in our relationships to stuff has made lasting impacts in our home and lives. If we had jumped in saying we’re going to immediately live a Zero Waste Life no matter what, we would have given up real quick. Some can make quick drastic changes and stick to them, and that’s awesome! We didn’t, and I’ve been happy with the choice to move forward with changes that work for us. Who knows, textbook minimalism may be in our future. For now, I’m content with slow simplifying progress.
It’s okay if you don’t identify with minimalism, and it’s okay if you do. It doesn’t really matter what you call it, as long as you’re pursuing your definition of simple, making lasting changes for the better, and not getting discouraged by comparing your journey to someone else’s.
Simplicity or minimalism: Which term resonates with you? What are your goals for simplifying? Share your answer in the comments below. ↓