Growing by Shrinking: What You Learn by Embracing Minimalism

Growing by Shrinking: What You Learn by Embracing Minimalism

After moving two suitcases of makeup I hardly wore, I decided to declutter my life and have been reaping the benefits ever since.

Minimal Me

After moving two suitcases of makeup I hardly wore, I decided to declutter my life and have been reaping the benefits ever since.

By Molly Flynn, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

A few weeks ago, I watched a documentary on Netflix called “Tracks” about a girl who decided to travel nearly 2,000 miles across a desert in Australia.

All she brought with her was her dog, four camels and a few supplies. Warning: If you’re a crier, like me, snuggle up on the couch with some tissues while you watch the film.

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Robyn Davidson, the pioneer who made the voyage, got me thinking. If I wanted to make a journey across the country—which I don’t, because I am neither in good enough shape nor free from the burden of employment—I would have way too much stuff to have to drag along with me.

Really, I have A LOT of junk.

I never realized how much shit I owned until I recently moved into my first home. My husband and I bought this cute craftsman style house and were nervously thinking that we wouldn’t be able to fill three whole bedrooms. Ha. Ha. Ha. Silly us.

Moving day came and within the first few minutes I unloaded two full suitcases. But, these two suitcases were not full of all of my stuff; in fact, they were only filled with my perfume and cosmetics. Sadly, I don’t even wear perfume that often, and yet I owned a ridiculous amount.

After needlessly having to pack and unpack boatloads of items I know I didn’t use, I started questioning my need to hold onto things. And through this internal questioning, I found out a few things about myself.

One thing I discovered about my hoarder habits is that I tend to be sentimental. I love holding onto little trinkets that connect me to important moments in my past, or at least what I retrospectively deem as important. I struggle with letting miniscule memoirs leave me, whether it’s a receipt from the first date my husband took me on, or an eraser I was given when I won the Fire Safety Bowl in fifth grade. These items assure me that I will always remember a special time. God forbid I accidently throw away some special knickknack, because if the item is gone, did the moment it represent ever really happen?

Another thing I discovered about myself is that I over-romanticize keeping a bunch of garbage in my home. Molly, do you really need that letter some random girl from your sorority who you never saw again wrote you on pledge night? Seriously, how can you even be sure she was actually a part of your sorority anyways? Or, do you really need the cigar ring from the first cigar you smoked with your dad? It’s cute and sweet and all, but it decorates an enormous box that clutters up your closets. I justify keeping random things because of my sentimentality, but I’ve learned that my emotions are not the best home decorators.

So, after watching “Tracks” and after breaking my back moving a legion of inessential luggage, I became inspired to get rid of useless stuff. I’ve decided to become more minimalistic.

Minimalism: An ironically long word that describes a lifestyle of less.

This way of living promotes ridding your life of useless items, which will rid your life of unnecessary anxiety.

To start my journey, I gave away four garbage-bags-full of clothes to a local community center. My husband I sold a few electronics that were not being used, and we packed away unnecessary utensils, which we apparently had a lot of. Why the hell did we have 47 forks? I live in a house of two people. This path to frugality and fundamental living has opened my eyes to how an overcrowded home is easy to maintain, but can be damaging to productivity and simplicity.

Growing by Shrinking: What You Learn by Embracing Minimalism
Image via Slate

Some people have the misconception that being a minimalist means that you can’t own a house or a car or anything that could hold you down. But, I’m not against planting roots—I mean, I did get married at 20-years-old, so if I was scared of commitment then I’d be living a real life “American Horror Story.”

But I do want to be free from the burden of stuff. I don’t want to feel obligated to keep trinkets lying around or to buy the newest version of something I already own.

Minimalism for me has extended beyond simply ridding my house of junk; it has impacted the way I spend money. Rather than throw my hard-earned money toward fleeting desires, I’ve chosen to invest in items that I actually need. While I’ve only been on my frugal voyage for a short time, I have already noticed a huge difference, and can honestly say that getting rid of things is worth it. My house is no longer flooded with dozens of doohickeys, and my bank account is not flooded with mass transactions.

Maybe you are happy living in a home full of fluffy sweaters that you haven’t worn in three years and meaningless artifacts that decorate the shelves in your closets. But think of how nice it would be to be free from it all. To not feel chained to that old tissue your best friend in middle school wrote a note to you on. To not feel pressured to keep that Christmas gift your grandmother got you that you’ll never wear or use. To not feel obligated to buy the iPhone 8, 9, 10…just because it’s new.

Everyone’s path to minimalism is different and mine has just begun. But I’m starting to remember what’s really important in my life, and the important things are not my material possessions. Trinkets have proven to shroud what really matters to me, and I bet if you started ridding your home of inessentials, you’d find they do the same for you.

Molly Flynn, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

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