Exploring Minimalism as a Lifestyle

Folding chairs and parasol at the beach | madeofmint.net

Minimalism can be a Lifestyle too

Even though I take a minimalist approach to photography, and I generally am drawn to minimalist design, it didn’t occur to me until recently that minimalism can encompass a lifestyle too. The allure of simple living is in trend on lifestyle blogs and prolific on Instagram. Often, these ideas look like unattainable magazine spreads — beautiful and admirable but difficult to achieve. Besides, the focus so often is on the aesthetics, rather than the actual living.

After researching about the principles of a minimalist lifestyle, I’ve come to realise that simpler living is indeed possible. It’s also something that I personally want to work towards more actively. In fact, I now know that subconsciously, this is something I’ve been leaning towards in various aspects of my life.

Digital Minimalist without the Label

Half-way through university I deleted my original Facebook account. I had more than a thousand “friends” but hadn’t had direct contact with many of them for years. Rather than go through the list and unfriend people (seemed a little too passive-aggressive and time-consuming), I started a new account and left the old one behind. I wasn’t quite as willing to purge my private Instagram account at the time. Instead, I soft blocked people I hadn’t talked to during the past year, untagged myself in a bunch of photos, then changed my username.

Having less than 500 Facebook friends wasn’t the norm among my peers. They tended to accumulate connections on Facebook, even if they no longer kept in contact offline. Removing myself felt like cutting off ties for good — I can’t deny that I had (mild) fear of missing out.

In the end, the certainty that at least half of my connections wouldn’t notice my disappearance won me over. My goal of these exercises thus was to focus on the relationships that continued to matter to me. A barrage of updates from near-strangers drowned out updates from friends I actually cared about.

Turns out I was taking a minimalist approach to my social media usage. I just didn’t know that minimalism was the appropriate label for it.

Snowflake fairylights | madeofmint.net
Lights and minimalism make up my favourite photography aesthetic

How I Discovered Minimalism

Besides taking care of my digital life, I spend a few days decluttering twice a year. I sort through my stuff, get rid of the trash that has accumulated and remove items that don’t work anymore. Following my routine, I once again started going through my things mid-January. This time round, though, I paused to reassess my approach. There were a lot of things that I’d neatly stored away but never used. I was also hanging on to things that once belonged to other people.

One such example was a calendar my eldest sister made when she was in second grade. My grandmother had kept it all these years. It held fond memories for her for as long as she lived. For me? It hardly meant anything. I wasn’t born yet at the time. So why was I holding on that calendar? I couldn’t really explain beyond feelings of obligation. Same with an old video camera that once belonged to my grandfather. It’s unusable now, clunky and not a treasured collector’s item either.

To quell the guilt of letting go, I googled organisation tips. I spiralled into the minimalism community on YouTube. While I had no desire to pare down my belongings to less than a hundred items, I did come to terms with several things:

  1. I don’t need to keep former treasures of loved ones.
  2. After nine years of not playing table tennis, I really don’t need my bat anymore.
  3. Prom was seven years ago. Time to donate that dress I’m never wearing again.
  4. Supplies for hobbies I’ve not engaged in in years are redundant in my possession.
  5. Photos of my medals suffice to remind me of my sporting achievements.

Exploring My Options

Of course, now comes the question: do I want to be a minimalist? In some ways, yes. In other ways, I’m not sure yet. I do want to make sure that everything that I choose to own are things I use and/or are thing that mean something to me.

There are hundreds of unread books in my shelves. I have every intention of reading them, so I will keep them, even if it will take me another three years to finish them. Perhaps I’ll be more aggressive about letting go of books I’ve finished and won’t ever re-read. For the past year, I’ve only looked to cull books I disliked.

I own 20 dresses. Whether I need that many is debatable but I know that I like them and am likely to wear each one at least once over the next six months. I did donate about a third of the clothes I had in my closet last month and plan not to add anything unless it needs to be replaced. My make-up and accessories can comfortably fit into one shoebox. I don’t use these much, so I’ve reduced what I own to what I feel comfortable wearing.

At this point, you could say I’m a explorer of minimalism.

Have you considered minimalism? Does it factor in how you lead your life?

xx Josette

Exploring Minimalism as a Lifestyle | madeofmint.net
  • I started considering minimalism as well, but it’s hard when your parents are hoarders. However I’m currently focusing myself on the whole mindset and I did something similar to you with Facebook 3 years ago, without knowing I was practicing minimalism!
    My favourite YouTube channels on this topic are Lavendaire and Break the Twitch.

    P.s. Loving your new blog!

    • Oh, yes! Can’t say my parents are hoarders but there’s always something that they think we should keep. I’ve already been subscribing to both channels xD Happy to know now that you like them too!

      And I’m glad you like the new blog 🙂 Been wanting to shift away from only blogging about (YA) books and have a more creative and introspective space of sorts.

  • Okay, wait, your eldest sister? What? I thought you only had one, the younger one who you mention frequently!

    I love the idea of minimalism, but I’m not the greatest at putting it into practice. Half the time I’d love to throw away (or donate) 90% of my possessions, and the rest of the time I have trouble throwing anything away. I’m pretty sentimental, but I also get stressed out by clutter. It’s a struggle balancing the two.

    • Well, my younger sister lives in the same country as me, so it’s only natural I’d mention her more 😉

      That struggle is similar to the one I’ve had over the past decade. I’d often come across things I wanted to get rid of but then didn’t because of sentimentality. The more I revisit these items, though, the more I’m beginning to realise that the memories are what matter and not so much many of the items themselves. My plan is to take photos of such items, then discard. Maybe I’ll make an album. Takes up less space and serves the same purpose.

      • Yes, but how many sisters/siblings do you have?! It’s not that you mention others less, it’s that I’ve never heard ANY mention of another sibling. 😛

        That’s a good idea, although as Asti mentioned in her reply, how often does anyone actually look at those photos? I need to do a major sorting of the thousands of digital photos I’ve amassed over the years and are sitting there, collecting figurative dust.

  • Dun, dun, dunnnnn… minimalism.
    Is the fact that that’s what comes to my head when I hear the word an indication of my thoughts towards minimalism? haha.

    I guess for me, I have a love/hate relationship with the idea of minimalism. On the one hand, I think it helps narrow your focus towards what really matters in your life at a given time and that’s great. I think with so much choice and endless opportunities for spreading yourself so thin, it can be really hard to truly enjoy yourself sometimes without cutting back. That being said, there’s also something inherently exciting to me about coming across something I haven’t used or worn in ages and reconnecting with that item again. It’s like sure, I don’t really NEED that item and if faced with sacrificing it in a minimalist rage I would likely let it go without a thought, but stumbling across it and suddenly having all those memories come back to me can be quite the thrill. Sure, I could also take a picture of it to remember and possibly get that same affect (as you said with the medals), but how often do I actually stop to look through all the photos I take? (Though maybe that again is another area in life I could benefit to purge through, haha.)

    That being said, moving between countries has forced me in a way to look at items in a different light and I’m much less attached to them than I used to be. I’m getting there, in my own little way.

    Oh, and the FB thing made me totally laugh. I am definitely one of those who sneaks in and unfriends multiple people I haven’t talked to in years thing. I have less than 100 friends? And even then, FB constantly encourages me to get more because half the people I am friends with I have hidden from my news feed so it really struggles to come up with articles to show me on my home page. (It’s nothing personal. I still like those people. Sometimes it just gets tiring seeing the nonsense they post on there, especially the older relatives, you know? haha.)

    Anyways, interesting post! Sorry for the novel response XD

  • I do consider myself a minimalist, but I completely understand why the idea is not as appealing to some people! It feels that in recent years, the internet has sort of hijacked the original concept of minimalism, turning it into some kind of competition for who can live with only thirty possessions, or who can pack all of their belongings into a suitcase & travel the world on an hour’s notice. It’s exhausting, & not what minimalism is supposed to be for everyone! I love that you’re choosing to explore minimalism in such a low-pressure way – I think that’s the simplest (no pun intended!) way to understand whether this lifestyle is right for you, & how you can adapt it to fit your lifestyle & needs. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts – what a beautiful, thought-provoking post. xox

    Topaz (Six Impossible Things)

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