The Truth About What Happens When You Become a Minimalist

It’s funny to me how this happened. I remember hanging out at a bar, talking to my new friend Phil and learning about minimalism for the very first time. He talked about how much it changed his life, how little he owned now, and this new-found freedom he felt.

Well, here I am about six months later… I caught the bug.

Diagnosis: Minimalist in Training

I have significantly decreased my belongings to about 25% of what I used to own (yes, literally). And. you know what? I have to say, minimalism has made my life a lot less enjoyable in a lot of ways.

It was a few weeks ago that I stumbled on Erin’s post on A Welder’s Wife that talked about some of the same feelings that I have had and am currently processing: 10 Ways Minimalism Ruined My Life Forever. Here are some of my own takeaways…

Shopping pretty much sucks now

One of the top things that I now struggle with is shopping.

I used to be a shopaholic.

I used to shop for therapeutic enjoyment and to try and fill whatever void was manifesting itself within my heart or mind. It was the instant gratification that I used like a drug. There was a thrill of the buy. I could even get a fix by just putting something in a virtual shopping cart. Needless to say, I had a problem.

Today? Ugh. The thrill is gone. Now, when I’m at the store, instead of having this itch to fill a void, I walk around Target (yes, the mother of all money sucking stores) and look at all the useless things that I don’t need to buy.

Before, I could have easily filled a shopping cart with anything and everything to put into my apartment without getting rid of a single thing, just adding to the chaos. Today, I look at the beautiful light gray linen comforter set and know that I would love to have it and get rid of the one I have, but I really don’t need to drop $130 on something that I really don’t need right now.

I have so much time to dwell on … life

Since I am doing less dishes, cleaning less junk up, cleaning less junk, and not spending a half an hour before I got to bed picking out an outfit out of the zillion clothes that I barely wear, I now have all this time for my brain to stew about life.

I have been feeling this big, empty void, like I have all this time to think about heavy life changing things that I was able to push aside. I now have all this time to ponder about all the debt I have racked up over the past couple years, about how I’m going to be able to afford life, and how to try to retire when I’m in my 40’s. (Yes, financial independence is on my bucket list.) This is all instead of worrying about what smokey eye look to go with for the day, I am having to pay attention to the big stuff…

I feel like I don’t make any easy choices anymore

Since I have drastically downsized my wardrobe and gotten into such a set routine, I feel like I’m not actually making any everyday decisions anymore. I just go through the motions for my basic needs and get on with my day. There’s no more hemming and hawing about what to wear because I just look at what I have and make a choice. It’s not a huge ordeal when you have way fewer things to pick from!

When I get ready in the morning, I listen to a podcast or an audio book, which focuses on how to pursue what I believe is my purpose. See, more life dwelling again…

I save so much time that my free time is overwhelming

Minimalism = less cleaning, less decision fatigue, less organizing, less having to think about how to try to use things that haven’t been being used.

Before I got rid of half of my dishes, I would spend at least an hour loading and unloading my dishwasher a few times a week. Now, I barely have to do any dishes, because there are barely any to do.

Like I said, I used to spend a half an hour sometimes before going to bed just trying to look for outfit inspiration. (And, if I’m lazy, this time would spill itself into my morning routine instead.) Time on Pinterest, time trying things on, time deciding whether or not what I was trying on was a good choice. In the morning, I now decide shirt or dress and then throw on what I have that goes with just that. I have go-to outfits for each thing. This gives me time to read more of a book before bed and make a breakfast shake for myself in the morning too.

Just this morning I reflected on how clean my apartment always is and realized that I am not going to have to spend hours upon hours trying to clean my place for move out. It’s already clean! I’m thinking during that time saved I could go for a hike or a bike ride or go to the beach. The options I have are endless now.

I have less hobbies to choose from

I can’t tell you how many times I have taken out some old craft stuff and stewed about how to create something new that I just didn’t feel like making just because I had the stuff lying around. About five or six years ago, I was a drawer. I loved to draw cartoons and create collages. About four years ago, I was going to teach myself how to play the guitar. Paper crafts? I stopped doing those about five years ago.

Guess who still owned all the stuff to do that stuff? Me. 

Today, I love to read, write and crochet. So, I have only kept the books around that I actually think I will read (I still have a good number of  books, because #forevernerd), I downsized my powerhouse laptop down to a writer-friendly Chromebook, and all of my yarn has been lovingly displayed in my bedroom ready for inspiration to hit. The only extra things that I am really holding onto are the sewing machine that my grandma gave to me and the box of jewelry making stuff, because I know that making jewelry for me is a seasonal craft.

So, now when I want to decide what to do or what to create, I spend less time trying to decide between so many different options and just role with what I’ve got.

I am forced to get to know myself

Since I am spending less time working on aesthetic decisions, I am now forced to work on intrinsic decisions. I am now reading who knows how many blog posts on minimalism and wellness and clean living and fitness and clean eating and all other things to do with bettering my life habits. I have been reading books that make me think deeper about life and I am spending a lot of time alone with myself and with my thoughts.

Over the past few months of major purging, I have been forced to make real decisions about who I am and what I want to surround myself with. Some days are a struggle and I really don’t like myself or I am frustrated with myself because I can’t make up my mind, but, overall, it has been a totally radical process.

As I look around at my world, I am now surrounded by things that truly represent me and the life that I want to live. It hasn’t been an easy process by any means, but it’s been worth it ten times over.

Have you given minimalism a shot? How have you felt along your minimalist journey?

The Truth About What Happens When You Become a Minimalist

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