Minimalish, Part One: learning about minimalism and I might be a bit of a hippie

Hellloooo and happy almost-Halloween! (I’ve just remembered that tomorrow is MCR’s one year return anniversary and I’ll have been blogging here for eleven years. ELEVEN YEARS. What.)

I’ve been thinking about writing about this for a little while, but I thought it might be a) boring and b) preachy, which are two of my least favourite attributes in blogs or videos. But I reckon I can strike a good balance… I’m also not sure what else to talk about, because most other things I’m working on are either very personal and therefore secret, or not-quite-done and therefore currently secret. So let’s talk about minimalism!

First of all, what is minimalism? Wikipedia has some ugly tables and blocky architecture. Good Housekeeping thinks minimalism as a lifestyle might be Buddhist and essentially revolves around having less stuff, so you appreciate the stuff you do have more. All the other articles I could find were on sites about being minimalist, which I’ve avoided because you wouldn’t trust a unicorn to write a book about magical creatures. Okay, you might. I just thought it’d be good to share links to sites with relative neutrality. So, yeah, having less stuff. Taking care of the stuff you do own.

Sooo am I here to out myself as a minimalist and talk about how everyone should throw away anything that isn’t sparking joy then paint their entire house white? Nope and nope, god. At least, I don’t think so. I’m here to chat about my current head space, I suppose.

This might require back story. Okay. So, thinking back on it: I have moved three times and each one of those times was in less than fun circumstances. The first time I was 10, so it was your standard house move in which no one consults their children. I hated the entire process. The second time was when my parents split up and I moved out with my mum, back to the place we’d moved out of when I was 10. I think I was 19. I didn’t hate the entire process, but the ‘separating parents’ situation isn’t as fun as the normal ‘moving out as a young adult’ situation. The third time was last January (um. 23? Time has been hard recently), when I moved back to the house my parents moved us to when I was 10, where my dad and my brother live. Also not fun. Three house moves, two houses. A bajillion hours of where is this painting going to go and you need new bed linen because it’s a different sized bed and this box is really too heavy and a general sense of… why is this a fucking toothache.

The last two times, I packed up dresses I hadn’t worn for years. Books I never got round to reading, boxes of gifted notebooks I hadn’t used because I write quickly but not that quickly, random receipts from when I started my stationery business and didn’t have a filing system. I knew that I needed to take some time and figure out what I really wanted and needed, but both moves were pretty quick and/or very stressful, so I did what I could in the time frame and told myself I’d deal with all the extraneous stuff later. There wasn’t that much, actually, not when you minus all my work stuff (computer, novel notes, stationery stock, paperwork). You could fill a moving van – maybe one and a half moving vans, if they’re small – but I wasn’t hauling dozens of coats and eighty pairs of shoes around. Most of the personal stuff was books and a lifetime’s collection of junk jewellery.

That’s not to say I never cleared things out except for in a pre-move dash; I got rid of a lot when I came back from Asia, because living out of a backpack for three months gave me a lot of perspective… I also realised that pre-Asia, I’d kept all my holey socks. I had loads. I’m not sure why. I put them in the textiles recycling the day I got back.

It’s a long winded back story but my point is: I’ve developed a bit of a thing about moving. As in, I bloody hate it. But I also love that crisp new feeling when you realise you’ve got a fresh start. You can leave your baggage at the old place and make new memories! Except… even when I’ve had that crisp new feeling, I’ve always brought baggage. The physical type and the mental type. Suitcases everywhere. Boxes with that indestructible brown tape. Random nicknacks from a holiday several years ago. It’s probably because I’ve pinged from one house to the other predominantly because of my parents’ lives, not because I moved for myself. I’m also very aware that I’ll move again. Not specifically to anywhere or on a certain date, but I won’t live in my dad’s house indefinitely. When I go, I want it to be as hassle free as I can possibly make it. (In my Psychology AS level, we looked at stress and apparently moving house was up there with getting married and a loved one dying. It’s never going to be smooth, but I’d like it to be less of a nightmare next time.)

So, minimalism. I first started thinking about it when I was searching for some certificates in January and accidentally began decluttering paperwork as I looked (I actually mentioned it on here at the time). Around then, YouTube suggested I watch something by A Small Wardrobe, which is clearly proof the devices are listening. At first I watched a few videos and thought ‘this woman owns ONE hat? Nope nope nope.’ Then, when Covid reared its head, I decided to get a head start on quarantine activities and tidy up my bookshelf. Which became a tidying of the wardrobe, which became ‘why do I own this hat which I have not worn since 2011?’ It dawned on me that one of the reasons I felt mentally cluttered could be that I was surrounded by actual clutter, a lot of which felt like it belonged in someone else’s life. It’s a natural side effect of being in your mid-twenties, I suppose. Something from just a few years ago can belong to a completely different time. Keeping it around might not be doing you any favours, even on a subconscious level.

I should probably add that around the same time, my mum was clearing out her stuff in preparation to move abroad. She hasn’t moved, because 2020, but she had way more stuff than I did, and the process of watching/helping her organise bits and pieces was eye opening. Some of it was really nice (we had a hilarious afternoon going through my primary school projects. There were very early signs of genius). Some of it was depressing as hell, because it was like watching someone’s entire life go to a charity shop. I should add she still has belongings. She owns six squillion pairs of shoes. It was just quite disconcerting. It made me think of when my grandfather died, and my nan chucked out most of his stuff. He wasn’t a hoarder by any means, but he’d kept bits and pieces that meant something to him, like cards from his parents, and my nan got rid of virtually everything.

I guess a combination of all those things have done a number on my brain, because here I am discussing how I might be a bit of a minimalist. A minimalish. Have I painted my room white? Hahah, to do that I’d have to move some paintings. Are you allowed to own paintings when you’re a minimalist? I think so; all mine spark joy. Some aren’t paintings. Some are ceramics. A couple are necklaces suspended from a nail. THE JOY IS SPARKING. But I have been getting rid of what the kids would call a fuckload of stuff. I’ve passed on some books. Actual books. I didn’t think authors were allowed to give away books, but this one doesn’t want to try getting them all down the stairs come moving day, so byeeee. The upshot is, I’m becoming increasingly aware that objects take up mental energy, and I’d rather put my energy into other parts of my life. Especially in a world where we might lose all our stuff to floods or wildfires or coastal erosion, or where we might die from Covid before we’ve had a chance to enjoy all that stuff we’ve accumulated. But do we really want all the stuff, or do we just feel like we should own it because it reflects where we think we ought to be in our lives? God I’m becoming a hippie. If you see me wearing hemp, throw a glass of water over me.

This post has become really long, so I’m going to wrap it up here and continue in the next one. I guess this has been an introduction to my becoming a minimalish. For sharing/SEO purposes, here is a photograph of my old desk. There is very little on it because I took the photo just before I moved. Also the desk was in a cupboard, so you couldn’t really clutter it up. I’d love to tell you that it influenced this mindset I find myself in, but I just used my bed as storage space instead. When I needed the bed, the stuff went on the desk. When I needed the desk, the stuff went on the bed. I was very organised, though.

desk and shelves inside a cupboard

Look out for the next post soon-ish. Have a lovely Halloween and look after yourselves!

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