After graduate school, I found myself moving from a cozy studio apartment in Georgia into a 2-thousand-something 3 bed 2 bath rented home in North Carolina. I was managing more money than I had ever dreamt of earning, and I was on my own – truly independent for the first time in my life.
It’s amazing how my tiny studio housed everything I needed, and yet it was almost as if the empty kitchen cupboards and guest bedrooms were just begging to be filled with appliances and decorations. And that walk-in closet? Oh yeah. I could definitely fit some more clothes in there. And shoes. And beauty products. Living just a few miles away from H&M, ROSS, T.J. Maxx, World Market, and Forever 21 didn’t help either.
The biggest problem of all was that my spendthrift lifestyle was financially sustainable…until I decided I needed a change of situation. I wanted to be closer to my family, so I took a job with slightly less pay that allowed me to move to my home state of Alabama…and suddenly my retail therapy habits were butting heads with my savings habits, and one of them was going to have to give.
Thankfully, capsule wardrobes were gaining in popularity around this time, and as soon as I read up on them, I knew. I need this. Thus began my minimalist journey. I got rid of almost 3/4 of my clothes and put myself on a 3-month clothes buying fast. I pared down my closet, which led to paring down my kitchen, which led to paring down my decor…until everything left was either beautiful or useful…and most importantly, everything around me reflected ME, the way I was at that moment. While the overall look might not have screamed MINIMALISM to anyone who walked in my door, my beautifully free new lifestyle of less spoke volumes to me. Eventually I even opted for a smaller apartment.
My relationship with Minimalism continues to shift and grow, and my current closet looks much different that what you see here. However, here are a few important discoveries I have made along the way:
- Own less, do more. When you start filling bags and boxes with items you haven’t used or worn or even (in some cases) seen for months and years, you start to think about how else you could have used the money you spent on those items. A family day out at an amusement park? That overseas trip you’ve been putting off? A donation to that charity you always say you wish you could support? A painting class? A new hobby? When I stopped spending so much money on clothing and home items, I was able to save more money and also afford a gym membership, which gave me new relationships and better health. So much winning!
- Streamline. The one benefit of minimalism that became immediately apparent to me was efficiency. Fewer items means fewer decisions, and easier ones! Reducing the number of items in my closet made dressing every morning faster. Reducing the makeup items I have down to only that which I use every day and will fit in my small travel toiletries case meant fewer decisions to make when I needed to pack for a weekend trip – just grab my toiletry bag and go.
- Cultivation. When I limit myself to living with less, the items I keep in my life are the ones I use all the time. And when you use something all the time , you want it to hold up to that level of use. Since learning about minimalism I’ve found myself cultivating a higher-quality wardrobe. Instead of buying multiple, cheaply-made items that may last a season, I’m investing that same amount of money or less in fewer items of higher quality that work for my life and will serve me for multiple years.
- Identity. When my closet was full of dozens and dozens of items, it was easy for me to choose to be ultra feminine one day and very tailored the next. While this meant I had a lot of variety in my life, it also meant I was able to hide – never having to decide on what looked best on me and felt like an authentic presentation of myself. Limiting myself to a capsule wardrobe forced me to define and refine my personal style, leading to many insights about my identity, the way I see myself, and the way I wish others to see me.
Fast forward a few years, and life has changed fairly dramatically. No longer flying solo, Hubs and I are sharing a cheap and tiny one bedroom apartment in Kentucky so we can save for a house. In the meantime, the majority of my furniture is in storage, and I’m viewing this time of life as an experiment in minimalism. After living here for almost 5 months and adjusting to my new work-remotely lifestyle, I’m already seeing opportunities to live with even less – and still love it.
So here’s to minimalism, to spending less, and to the challenges and opportunities of living with less.
Are you living with less? What was the tipping point that made you embrace minimalism?