Embracing Minimalism: Criticism, Part Four

Any time you announce you’re downsizing someone has something to say. There might be a lot of praise, but there’s usually more negativity. Especially in America, due to rampantly out of control consumer culture and marketing brainwashing, the general consensus is that stuff should make you happier. Stuff should improve your life. Stuff holds memories. If you eliminate that stuff, you might regret it.

Below I’ve sectioned off the most common things I’ve heard when discussing this big change in my life. Hopefully you’ll find this helpful and it will give you courage to commence with a home-purge of your own!

You Might Use It

My mom was over at the very beginning of this process. I was going through my book collection as she sat on the sofa. I pulled out book, after book, saying “I’m never going to read these again. I don’t want to, or have the time.”

Her reply? “You say that now…you may want to read them in the future.”

I don’t resent my mother for saying this. Honestly, I often times find that I tell myself this, especially because I love books and reading. Oh Allyson, don’t get rid of this classic novel…it’s a classic! or, you know you loved this book the first time you read it at 14, read it again! The reality is: if I hadn’t read the book again between 14 and 25, I probably won’t read it again ever, regardless of how much I loved it back then.

I’d say it is safe to assume that the possibility of using an item in the future is why people hang on to things in the first place. I know that’s why T and I had most of our things.

You Might Regret It

One of the biggest reasons I’ve been told I might regret getting rid of something is future children. I’ll be told things like “You’re children will want to see that,” or “that item should be passed to your children.” These phrases might truly bother some people. Me, on the other hand, it goes in one ear and out the other.

I prefer to take this approach, as I’ve never envisioned myself birthing my own children: don’t hang on to something your possible child might not possibly want.

Trends change, the world moves forward, and your kid probably won’t care about the movies you watched when you were little. If you keep something sentimental from your childhood keep it because it brings you joy, not because you want to show your child.

My parents practiced this philosophy. I got to see photographs and hear stories, but I never actually saw anything they’d played with, or read, or whatever. Did I care about their history and how they grew up? Of course! However having the exact dress, or baseball, or clarinet was of little consequence. Hearing them describe their childhood experiences was much more meaningful than having an old relic of their youth.

Listening to their stories and word choice is probably what made me so interested in storytelling in the first place…so, thanks Mom and Dad.

You Spent A Lot of Money On It

When telling an acquaintance about getting rid of a set of bar stools and table we’d bought mid-2013 they replied “What? But you just bought those! How much did you pay?” I told them. $89 USD for two chairs, times two. Plus $100 USD for the table. “You spent a good amount of money on those, you should make them work!”

Regardless of how much money I’d spent on the chairs and table, I shouldn’t have to make them work in my life. There’s an item, somewhere in the world, that will work perfectly for me and T, and our needs. Plus, we can sell the old items to recoup some of the cost.

We’d borrowed a table from my mom at first, in 2012. I hate having loaned items from family, so we returned it ASAP and bought the bar set. We stopped eating at the table and began eating on our sofa, or the floor, or standing in the kitchen, or at our desks in the office. We didn’t really talk, or enjoy our food. When guests came over it was the same drill. “Just eat on the sofa,” I’d say. I grew tired of this and quite embarrassed that I’d have guests eat a meal on our sofa.

After convincing Trevor it was time to downsize, I plead my case for the dining table. “What does this piece of furniture add to our lives? Nothing! We don’t even use it!” So that was that. We decided together to ditch it, and pick up this table and four of these stools from IKEA.

Do we eat at the table together? Every day, two meals a day. Are we happier? Absolutely. T and I were close before, but we have more meaningful discussions more often. Was it worth it to pick up a new dining set? 100%.

Now, because we did spend so much money on our old set, we’re selling the stools. They’re solid wood and someone will love them dearly! As for the old bar table? That’s in NautilusMODE headquarters for product photos as it’s the perfect height for them!

You Might Miss It

I’d been told before, when trying to eliminate crap from my life, that I might find myself missing something I’d gotten rid of. This would lead to regret, thus leading me to feel sorry and sad about discarding that item. What? The first thought that comes to mind is: all of it is just stuff; you shouldn’t be emotional over stuff!

Stuff is around to help our lives be easier, less complicated and happier. Stuff is not around for us to be emotional over. No one should “love” their toaster, right? No one cries when their vacuum breaks, they just buy a new one. Material possessions are not meant for us to place emotions on. They are meant for their intended purpose and nothing else.

The truth is, you shouldn’t be afraid to overdo it. Don’t be afraid to go slightly crazy with your own home-purge. Do take solace in the fact that it is 2015 and you  can buy whatever you want on the internet with free shipping to replace something. Follow the steps of your selected method. Does the item bring you joy, do you use it every day? No? Get rid of it. An item that’s sitting around your house without being used is wasted space AND wasted money. From where I stand eliminating that item and having to buy another one next year, or in two years, is better than the alternative.

The Truth

The first Thursday in March, T and I were rummaging through our bookcase together, further eliminating unread books. He turned to me. “You know, its unsettling to see all the bags of trash, bags to donate and boxes to sell. All this stuff was in our house, just, taking up space. We had it for no reason.” That was the truth.

When first going through your things, it is scary. It’s not scary because of the actual items you’re getting rid of. It’s scary because of the sheer volume of things you’re getting rid of.

In the first week we did the most damage. For our first floor we had 7 bags of trash, 3 boxes of items to sell and 1 bag to donate. In our bedroom we had 7 bags of trash and 6 bags to donate.

Look at those numbers. We had 14 bags of trash in our home. TRASH. Things that were worn, over used, broken, torn, ruined in the communal laundry, forever grungy…whatever. We were wearing those things and using those things.

That’s embarrassing and disgusting, but that’s the reality.

The truth is whether you’re on the path to become a Minimalist, or not, going through your things always feels good. Getting rid of items you don’t use, or have over used, or don’t want, always feels good. Giving clothing, blankets, toys, shoes and pillows to those that are less fortunate than you always feels good. Reclaiming your home’s space and eliminating the junk from your life always feels good.


4 thoughts on “Embracing Minimalism: Criticism, Part Four”

  1. I can relate to the reaction from friends and family. They think you’re weird, crazy or make you feel kind of dumb. For me, nothing has felt more natural than a minimalist lifestyle. I figure after a while people will get used to it. They can keep their junk, and have mine too if they want it 😉

    1. “They can keep their junk, and have mine too if they want it” has become my new philosophy when dealing with hindering influences! Haha!

      I think the biggest issue is that, generally, people don’t understand when you declare you’re “downsizing,” or “living with less,” or “living minimally.” My family instantly thought of clutter removal and said things like “good for you,” or “I wish I had the time to do that.” Now that western staples (like a bed frame) have gone, they ask questions out of concern for us. Maybe they assume we don’t have any money and are selling everything off, maybe they feel sorry that we “don’t have anything” anymore. I don’t know.

      What I do know is, it is difficult to continue changing your life when the people you hold dear are vocally against it. It is important to remember that you don’t have to agree in order to love a family member.

      I believe you do have to agree with the people you share space with, and only do so much as everyone inside your home is comfortable with. If the people that live inside a home are happy with the things inside it, that is the validation that is needed to live minimally.

      The fact is others aren’t going to understand the process, but will more than likely be envious at the result.

      1. All very true. My husband is by no means a minimalist, quite the opposite. He has a room for his things, and the garage. That is the compromise I’ve had to make. I also can’t sell off anything big that we both spent money on (like our bedroom furniture). So I do what I can around those things. My two kids have no problem giving away most of their stuff so no big deal there. Considering other people in your home is a huge part of the process for sure. I don’t let it hinder my goals however, and you are right about one thing. Most of the people who didn’t understand in the beginning end up being more curious and envious at the result. I know everyone was impressed by the $220 I made at my last yard sale! 😉

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.