I failed at minimalism?

Phase 1 – Minimalism

February through August 2016 was a whirlwind of self-help books, trash bags, and trips to the GoodWill. I had heard a lot about minimalism on YouTube (the ever growing new Google), read a few books (most notably The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up), and threw myself into minimalism. I’m sure my dad thought I was crazy. I was at a point in my life where I needed a change, so I decided to get rid of almost everything. When I say almost everything, I mean almost everything. Sure, I kept a few things that, by the words of Marie Kondo, ‘sparked joy’, but those things that I kept were few and far between.

The largest areas of decluttering were my bathroom and my wardrobe. So many bottles of lotions and body washes were thrown in the trash, along with my multitude of impulse-buy makeup palettes. With my wardrobe, I really wanted the 10-item wardrobe (that I read about in Lessons Learned from Madame Chic), so skirts, shirts, and even jeans went into the boxes and boxes that I donated to GoodWill. Now, this was a mistake, as I wear jeans almost exclusively at my jobs. I got down to 2 pairs of jeans, about 10 shirts (not including my work shirts), 1 pair of leggings, 7 pairs of underwear, and 5 pairs of socks. You can imagine, I was doing laundry several times a week. Now, this wardrobe did make it easy to move to college, however, it was not at all practical for my lifestyle.

I learned my first mistake with the 10-item wardrobe around then, when I wanted to explore my personal style and leave behind the style I had in high school: I was trying to be someone I was not. Yes, a chic life of all monochrome colors and only 10 items in the closet is great for some people, but it was not practical for me, and it did not spark joy in me every time I went to get dressed.

Phase 2 – Not Minimalism

Okay. Now what? I was an almost- broke college student with only one drawer of clothes, no makeup (I even got rid of my Urban Decay foundation… not a recommended decision, and a need to try out something new with personal style. Amazon is my best friend, and I adore American Eagle jeans. That being said, the few friends I happened to make in college teased me relentlessly about my trips back from the mail room sometimes several times a week, my arms laden with packages. Now don’t get me wrong, I didn’t spend a ton of money. They just thought I did. But if you know Amazon, and sometimes even American Eagle, they put everything in its own separate box, so for one order, sometimes I’d have 5 boxes of stuff.

When I went home for break, I spent some money that I made working that week on makeup, so I could make myself feel nice every once in a while. A friend of mine also had some hand-me-downs that were just my size – several garbage bags full of them. Those added a lot of choice to my wardrobe as well. At the end of spring semester, my college has these ‘give n’ go’ bins where people leave anything that they don’t have room for at home. I went crazy. It’s like shopping at Value Village, but for free! I got many many bags, shoes, jeans, coats, even a roll of washi tape! You name it, I could find it in those bins.

Phase 3 – What?

So I guess you could say I now have about the same amount of stuff as I did a year and a half ago. Well, maybe a little less. But not much! So did I fail at minimalism? I am not quite sure. I want to say that it has made me more conscious of what I keep in my life and what I discard, or, better yet, don’t buy in the first place.

One thing is for sure though, I learned a lesson. I needed to let go of some of my stuff to help me move on in my life. Sure, it ended up costing me money, as I got rid of many things that I bought back (I didn’t even sell them in the first place!), but it also taught me a lesson. I’m not quite sure how to put the lesson into words, but I do know that I am not about to clear out all my stuff again any time soon – at least not without a lot more thought and planning first.



8 thoughts on “I failed at minimalism?

  1. Ilona Sewall Wiley says:

    Fiona, just read this post on minimalizing. Boy can I relate to your feeling about needing some variety in clothing. I also agree with Heidi that really what happened is that minimalism failed you. Good blog.

  2. Heidi says:

    I want to add that I like learning new things and so don’t feel like an experiment is a failure even when it means I can’t achieve the results that I set out to achieve. So, perhaps instead of failing at minimalism, the turnaround is more true: minimalism failed you.

  3. Heidi says:

    I always enjoy your posts; however, this one is particularly good (and very well written). I like the idea “I was trying to be someone I was not”. Great post!

  4. Barb E. says:

    P.S. I don’t think your Dad thought you were crazy… he just hoped you wouldn’t get rid of any of his rocks😉

  5. Barb E. says:

    You certainly didn’t fail if you gained some useful insights. The process is a tough one for me, too. And kudos to your college for those “give ‘n’ go” bins – great idea.

  6. Candi says:

    Did you ever think of ‘decluttering’ and ‘how to organize ‘ as a new industry? It could be out there to promote consumerism. I know most every time I part with something I find I need it back again. Minimalism isn’t for everyone but I do find the practice refreshing for the brief period of time it sometimes stays with me.

Let me know what you think!