So where were we? Oh yeah, I’m kind of a minimalist now. Except am I? As I write, there are two computer monitors on my desk, my floor is clogged with folders and… I’m bullshitting you guys, because the spare monitor is going to be sold as I have a new all-in-one-computer. The folders are my A Level notes, pulled down from the loft, hoovered and slooowly sorted through. By sorted I mean, I’ll photograph a couple of funny notes to share with you guys, keep anything that might come in useful for work and burn the rest.
But I still don’t know if I can claim to be a minimalist, though. As I said last time, I own a lot of wall art. As in, I don’t have any more space on my walls. I don’t really collect stuff, but I love picking up little pieces of arts and crafts when I travel. It’s nice to bring a little bit of there back here. There’s quite a lot of framed MCR posters and photos too. Again, I said last time, I genuinely like it all. The first thing I did when I moved back into this bedroom was put up as many pictures as I could; I think they make a space feel like it’s yours. But then, I also own four mugs worth of pens and highlighters, plus spares (possibly not minimalist). I still own CDs, because I own a CD player. I use the CD player, because it’s also a radio and I love the radio, especially at night. I could use my phone as a radio, but that a) fries the battery and b) makes me sit on my phone in bed.
So I think I’m a minimalist in the same way I’m a vegetarian. 95% of the time, I won’t eat meat because I don’t really like it and it flairs up my IBS and it’s terrible for the planet and cows are cute. The other five per cent is when I’m in Greece and there’s bikiri meze at one of my favourite restaurants. Good luck keeping me away from that food-based piece of heaven.
I suppose I’m increasingly aware of the sorts of things I want in my life, and the sorts of things I don’t. Some things won’t get replaced when they fall apart, so as time goes by I’ll end up with the objects I really want and little else.
So, what have I decluttered? Bloody loads. I thought about photographing various points where I had piles of clothes on my bed or tonnes of books in a pile, but it felt weird. I didn’t start thinking minimalist thoughts to try out a trend, although minimalism is definitely a trend. I did it because the thought of moving all that stuff from one building to another gave me a stomach ache. I’m still doing it because of that. Here are a few bits and pieces:
It might be a throwback to when my IBS was really bad, but I kept too-big or worn out clothes for ages, because on days when I was bloated and uncomfortable, I couldn’t fit into my regular clothes. I also had no desire to wear anything that wasn’t absolutely comfortable. Over lockdown, that desire rekindled, so I’ve gotten rid of a lot of underwired bras (the devil’s instrument, but I’m keeping a couple in case we ever get to socialise again), platform heels that I bought for a specific occasion even though I had other platforms that were comfier. Yes, you can get comfy platform heels. Comfy-ish. I got rid of the murderous ones, and any shoes that were too big (funny story: until recently I thought I was a size five. I measure as a size three. Once I noticed, I couldn’t un-notice). I passed on clothes that didn’t suit me, clothes that weren’t easy to move in (bye, jeans), clothes that reminded me of a bad occasion. I probably have A Small Wardrobe to thank for this, but I’m being more considerate about what I actually wear versus what I think I’ll wear, and what I wear is beginning to match a lot more.
I’ve still got way more clothes than the average minimalist YouTuber has, partly because in the UK there is a limit to the practicality of a capsule wardrobe… none of my jumpers were suitable for use this last July; none of my strappy tops are suitable for use now, because there is only so much one can layer. But I’m building a wardrobe that looks cool, is really comfortable and requires minimal ironing, so result.
Dundunduuuuun. Look, there were some that were very boring. Some I would never, ever read. Some I tried and decided my time was better spent elsewhere. Books that aren’t going anywhere: my Maggie Stiefvaters, Harry Potter (my set is practically antique; there’s an epic stain on The Prisoner of Azkaban from a glass of Pepsi when I was about eight), my guide books (they’re proof we could once travel widely, and I have every intention of returning to Corfu/Malta/Vietnam). I’ve been rereading copies of Miss Marple that my grandmother gave me. They are staying for the time being, because I bloody love a murder mystery and because I don’t have many things to remind me of my grandmother. Which brings us to…
This is hard. I understand the basics of keeping hold of something long after it has any practical use, or when you think it’s ugly or takes up too much room. You keep it because it reminds you of a specific time or experience, and in getting rid of the item, you’re getting rid of the person who gave it to you, or letting go of that time. This is why my brother and I protested when our mum wanted to get rid of a VHS collection of James Bond films. That giant box took up more room in our childhood than most of our aunts and uncles. It’s funny, because I’ve had no trouble chucking the stuff that reminds me of bad memories. Get this item out of my space, please, it’s interfering with my mental health.
It sounds dramatic, doesn’t it, but an upside of having less clutter has been that I feel calmer. Not zen-calm, but not as messy. If you’ve been here for a while you’ll know I have a very messy brain. Less stuff does seem to equal less brain mess. As I said last time, I’d like to put my mental energy toward things that aren’t, well, things. But when that stuff is a reminder of better times? It’s hard, dude. Some objects I have aren’t being decluttered yet, or ever, because I’m not ready to consider getting rid of them. Other things, I looked at for a bit and then my desire to have an easy moving day won out. For example, these boots:
I called them my Killjoy boots. I got them in Paris in 2009 and wore them to death. I realised in about 2011 that they were knackered and hurting my feet, but they were too much part of my identity to part with. One of the cool girls at school came up to me on a non-uniform day and asked where they came from. Paris. I think it was a chain store, they were probably about 40 euros, but still. So I moved houses with them, twice, even though I never wore them. A couple of months ago, when I was having a wobble about how much shit was in my bedroom, I pulled them out and realised the faux leather was shedding everywhere. So I took photos for posterity, said ‘thanks, boots, we had a great time’ and then put them in the textiles recycling (there was no rehoming them. Look carefully and you’ll see a random shoelace replacing a zipper. I had them reheeled too).
I guess I lied about not photographing anything. I thought I might talk about minimalism on here one day. I couldn’t make a big social-media-sharing thing out of it, though, because the entire process feels really personal.
This post has gotten really long, again, so I will keep talking in the next one, which is about technology. Do you have any decluttering stories? Horror stories? Have you ever kept a pair of shoes for nine whole years because they made you feel cool when you were 15? Let me know in the comments.
Look after yourselves!
Here is part three of this series., about swapping my smart phone for a brick phone.