I thought I was a minimalist. Apparently I’m not!
As you understood from all my recent rants, my partner and I moved into our bran new built apartment. This has lead to a lot of despair and realization.
One of the realization was that it is close to an environmental disaster, one I could not possibly compensate in a life time.
The other realization is that I’m not a minimalist after all!
I kind of thought I was. Not a ‘hard core minimalist’ but still a pretty ‘decent’ one.
There aren’t any real scales to judge what a minimalist is but I’ve still been wondering where to draw the line?
Do you have to live off a suitcase (or 2) to be a minimalist?
If so, you can’t own furniture and must rent furnished apartments.
But you are still a minimalist if you own furniture, right? You are ‘allowed’ to own a bed, with a bed side table, a sofa, a kitchen or dining table, chairs… right?!?!
If so, there are a ‘couple’ things you probably still shouldn’t own including books, plants, tools, sport equipment, a motorcycle(!), pillows, extra cords, a tv, candles, crystals, lamps, any sort of decoration like travel souvenirs, any sort of frames or painting to hang on the walls, any sort of appliance like a coffee machine, a blender, or pots, pans, dishes or crystal glasses…
Alas… I own all of the above and more! I own a salt lamp, as well as professional like photography lamps. I own plenty of drawing and painting tools as well as a sewing machine. I have summer and winter clothes, as well as skincare products, a yoga mat and some rugs. I have indoor and outdoor plants. I own more than one mug! I have camping gear, hiking gear, bicycle gear and thankfully I left my motorcycle gear at my dad’s place with the motorcycle!
Should your belongings fit in a van?
Vanlife & tiny houses may be the best example of what it’s like to own less.
To most including myself, it seems unattainable. But then again, when I lived in Paris, my first apartment was tiny, as a lot of Parisian apartments are. And I was doing fine!
So what happened?
I think it’s just that ‘nature hates a void’. When I got a bigger place, I got more stuff.
If owning furniture, pots and pants and stuff is ok, what’s the limit?
You are still a minimalist if you have furniture, pots & pants, glasses and more than one fork. After a while, these things takes so much space though!
If you haven’t moved recently, you might have forgotten how much space a duvet, pillows and sheets take up. How much space and wrapping it takes to protect fragile glasses, if you don’t want them shattered, at destinations. Moving plants? Movers do not like plants for a start and you are on your own if your move, like mine, includes some time in storage.
We have 2 beds and winter and summer duvets as well as sheets and pillows for such beds! 1 duvet equal pretty much one box and not the small type of box either. Yes, you can vacuum pack them to limit the space. But then you need to own a vacuum machine and the plastic wrapping required.
We do have daily glasses, wine glasses and champagne flutes (I’m French!). They took up 2 or 3 boxes, which were probably 80% filled with wrapping paper.
I have outdoor and indoor plants which I stored at my client’s office. Not just little plants, big ones I had to trim aggressively to fit in my car too. I brought one or more plants, depending of the size, at every of my visits and I’m still in the process of bringing them home.
Moving in felt like an endless wave of boxes being brought inside our new place. However, when opening such boxes, I was like ‘oh yeah, good, I need this asap and this as well’.
So indeed, there are a lot of useful and loved things in such boxes.
Then where is the limit?
If you use and love everything you own, you’re still a minimalist?
I think so! Again, the good thing is that being a minimalist isn’t a strict set of rules. You get to decide what works for you.
Clearly I’m not about to take the 100 things challenge!
Plus being a minimalist isn’t about just what you own either, not just the material things.
Being a minimalist is process
We moved and the movers considered that it was a very light move. It was quick too, so much quicker than our first move, a couple years back. I was even able to confirm we had less stuff because of the item being numbered. The total number was lower by at least 30% if not more.
So we must have done something right in between. My ‘one in, one out rule’ must have worked after all.
It still felt and still feels so much to handle.
Yet, I don’t feel like ‘trowing away’, selling or donating much more. Clearly, there are already things I was holding on to, which I decided to let go. These were useful things but I no longer used them because I changed. And I think that’s the important part. Being a minimalist or becoming one is a process. It’s ok to take time to declutter. It does not necessarily have to be done in one hour, or one week.
This isn’t something I just told myself to be reinsuring! This was something I came to understand while realizing I’m starting a new chapter in my life. But once again, this will be for our next encounter!