I can remember the moment my minimalist journey began. I was a college student at the University of New Mexico, and I was organizing the clothes in my closet. At the time, I liked to organize my garments by color. It looked great!
It was a satisfying site. However, something struck me when I looked at my color organized closet when I finished and I realized it probably wouldn’t be practical to travel with this rainbow spectrum of clothing.
Writing and traveling are two of my greatest passions. Because of the latter, packing my suitcase is an exciting thing for me. I was traveling a lot during my college days to L.A. to be with family and friends during summer vacation or holidays. The traveling made for great writing material.
Creating a Life I Love
It was there, when I was examining my closet, that my journey toward minimalist began. Here are some things that I learned along the way that made downsizing less daunting and more realistic.
1. The closet is a great place to start.
After that lightbulb moment, I began incorporating more neutrals into my wardrobe. The question I would ask myself when shopping was is this something that would be practical to travel with? If the answer was yes, I’d add it to my collection and thus my love of wearing neutrals began.
This beginning doesn’t sound much like minimalism as I still had quite the shopping habit, but it was a start. Baby steps, right?
Many of us have accumulation in our closets, as our clothes can give us a certain feeling when we wear them. By dressing ourselves a certain way, we feel a certain way: powerful, sloppy, successful. So as an aspiring minimalist that feels a certain way when costumed, it was a great way for me to start my journey. I felt like a minimalist when I dressed in chic neutrals.
It wasn’t until a little way down the road that I discovered the concept of minimalism and when I learned a little more about it, I felt like I was on my way there already because of my change of perspective with my clothing.
I had decided that this was a journey I was meant to take, but I didn’t feel like my brain was in it—even though my heart was. I went on to graduate from UNM and stayed in New Mexico. My dream of working in film to become a screenwriter was more realistic in New Mexico than if I’d moved back to L.A. Fortunately, I landed a great film job just months after graduating.
2. Minimalism isn’t just for your home life.
A minimalist mindset can be applied to every category in your life and make it better. I worked in film for almost two years. It was great money. I felt like I was living the dream. I was working for people that won Emmys for their writing.
At first, it seemed the 12+ hour days we worked were worth it, but then it started to feel exhausting. I slept every chance I got. I drank a lot of coffee, which wasn’t so bad, but I was eating a lot to keep myself from being tired. The film industry has a department just for snacks called Craft Service. There was always food!
Worst of all, I wasn’t writing every day anymore. I know we all have the same number of hours in a day, but 12-16 of those hours were spent working and 6-8 were spent sleeping during that period of my life.
Yes, I had the weekends, but my brain was just off. After a couple of negative experiences, I felt pushed to the edge. I didn’t see this as a dream, because I wasn’t doing what I loved. It was time to get back on track.
3. Recognize what is important to you.
In February, I quit the industry and started looking for other jobs. My first thought in my job search process was it would be great if there was a little job at the senior center that’s across the street from my house because then I could walk to work. It turned out there was: a full-time position as an activities coordinator.
I applied and got the job. I now work 8 hour days and I have a lunch hour! It’s a fun job. I’ve planned tea parties and trips for the senior community and best of all, I get to write little articles about these activities for the newsletter and I work alongside a published children’s author. Not for a successful writer: with.
This new job has also opened up time for me to pursue my master’s degree in creative writing, something I have always wanted to do. I started in April. My minimalist mindset allowed me to recognize what was really important to me.
My shopping habit became more mindful along the way, and I now have a capsule wardrobe that I love, a job that I love, and I’m doing what I love. My road to minimalism isn’t finished yet, but I don’t think it will ever be finished.
4. Don’t see minimalism as something that has a finish line.
It took me a while to realize that minimalism is a lifestyle, not something that has check points or a measuring scale. It is an ongoing journey. The way I see minimalism will change as my life changes.
I consider myself a minimalist, even though my desk could use some tidying up. Because I weave minimalism into my life, my cluttered desk isn’t so cumbersome, like something I needed to clean in order to actual be a minimalist.
Currently, I have a lot of things listed on eBay and Poshmark. I’m selling a lot of things that are no longer of use to me so that my fiancé and I can live in a vintage Airstream full-time. The journey continues, as life always does.