Journey to Minimalism: What is Minimalism?

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Journey to Minimalism is a series on my blog in which I record my experiences as I declutter and attempt to live a life free of distractions. 

When you hear the word minimalism, what do you picture? For years I believed that minimalism meant ridding my space of all the items I owned, except for the bare essentials, and that terrified me. I used to picture all white rooms with a bed and some plants. Something like this:

While I absolutely adore how this room looks, I know that I can never minimize (or even maintain) my room to resemble this. The room is absolutely breath-taking, but there isn’t a bookshelf or a space to sit and read. I own over 200 books and cherish every single one of them, so I thought that minimalism could not work for me.

Whenever I would stumble across a minimalist’s page I would also see pictures of their wardrobe. A pattern that I often noticed is the lack of colors in most of these colors, which is saying something since most of what I own are either black or jeans. Take the following picture as an example:

This closet is extremely visually appealing, but doesn’t reflect my style. I love colors and I love being able to dress casually one day and dressy the next. With the clothes I currently own I cannot minimize my closet as much as most minimalists do without eliminating some style options. I’m also in a situation where I do not have the ability to purchase a completely new wardrobe that can fit all my needs in as little items of clothing as possible. So does that mean I cannot be a minimalist?

In fact, what is minimalism?

For so long I’ve been intimidated by the image that surrounds minimalism that I didn’t even bother to ask myself about the fundamentals of it! After doing plenty of research, I discovered that there are so many different definitions of minimalism, but they all share a common value. I believe Joshua Becker from the Becoming Minimalist blog puts it best:

Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it.

And if we were going to become minimalist, it would have to be a style of minimalism specific to us. It would require us to ask questions, give-and-take, identify what we most value, and be humble enough to change course when necessary.

Your particular practice of minimalism is going to look different from everyone else. It must! After all, you live a different life than everyone else.

Although the Pinterest and Instagram minimalists seem to be more ‘minimal’ than you, that doesn’t make your ‘style of minimalism’ any less authentic. As Becker says, minimalism is about ridding your life of distractions.

What do you want to do with your life, really think about it. Now look around. Are the items that surround you going to help you get there? Do they hold any value/significant meaning to you? Do they make you happy? I’m afraid that’s not the case for me.

Time to get to work.

20 Things To Do Before Turning 20

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This August I will turn 20, meaning that I will no longer be a teenager. Even though I’m 6 months away from becoming an adultier adult, I still have some things I would like to accomplish before then. Some of them are tailored to me, but I thought I share it to see if anyone else can relate.

  1. Take a trip to Boston
  2. Attend a ballet
  3. Get my license (I know! I’m a bad adult)
  4. Journal more
  5. Read Pride and Prejudice
  6. Get a Passport
  7. Have a Harry Potter movie marathon
  8. Have a mini bake sale
  9. Write 10,000 words towards a book
  10. Go to BookCon
  11. Take a day trip
  12. Start self-hosting my blog
  13. Redesign my blog
  14. Get accepted to a grad school
  15. Revamp my wardrobe
  16. Reach 400 Twitter followers
  17. Learn how to make-up (I’m clueless)
  18. Have a conversation with a stranger
  19. Exercise more
  20. Achieve happiness

What’s one thing you want to do before your next birthday?

Journey to Minimalism: Set Your Intentions

Earlier this month I shared that I will be participating in Muchelle B’s 30 Day Simplify Your Life Challenge. Although I haven’t documented my journey so far, I have already started decluttering my room. As I predicted in my first post, the process of decluttering takes me longer than a day for several reasons:

  • I have a lot of stuff
  • I get distracted by food
  • I get tired and take a YouTube break
  • I have to clean/wash the items I’m decluttering

Admittedly, the process would go by much more quickly if I dedicated entire days to decluttering, but since I’m working, blogging, and in the process of applying to scholarships and a grad program, I have a certain amount of time to declutter. Due to this I will not be strictly adhering to the challenge, instead I will go at my own pace and declutter what I can, when I can.

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Day 1: Set Your Intentions

Why? Why did I decide to take this journey and why now? As I touched on in my first post, I just graduated college and am a bit lost. I think I know where I’m going, but the future is unpredictable. The only thing I know for sure is the present and I want to focus on living it to the fullest. I decided to embark on this journey because I am not entirely happy with how I’m living my life and I think the first thing I should focus on is my physical space. My room has always been a hot mess, but after working two jobs with a full load of classes I barely had any time to do anything except sleep in it. Now that I only have one job to keep me occupied, I can now prioritize my room.

What? My main goal is to make my room a place that I can escape to so I can think about nothing, read, write, and blog. I don’t want it to be a place that stresses me out and makes me think of all the things I need to do. In order to do this I need to purge mercilessly and I have some guiding questions to help me:

  • Why am I keeping this? Is it because I value it or do I feel like I have to keep it because of X reasons? Believe it or not, I keep a lot of things out of guilt (like birthday cards) because I think that since someone cared enough to get me something I have to keep it.
  • Do I use this? I own a lot of things that I do not use and don’t see myself using in the future. This one is always tough for me because I always have that nagging voice at the back of my head saying “but what if one day you need it?” I need to find a way to shut this voice up if I want to succeed.
  • Is it broken/stained? This pretty much speaks for itself, if it’s unusable why keep it?
  • Does it make me happy? Ah, the age old minimalist question. However, I am going to tack on something to this question. Are there memories attached to this that I can’t imagine parting with. Call me a bad minimalist, but I have no intentions of taking pictures of letters or stuffed animals that hold great joy to me. I’m not going to keep everything, but I will not let go of things I’m not ready to let go of.

Hopefully, by the end of this challenge, I will have eliminated all the physical objects in my life that are distractions and do not bring me joy. I also would like to have a clearer head space and be able to focus on the projects that mean most to me while working my way up.

When? In small, easy doses. I know myself and if I start a huge project and get overwhelmed I will freak out and throw everything into a big pile and ignore it. By taking this challenge in bite size pieces I will be able to tackle this project successfully and happily. I am also tackling this in phases- I’m going to get rid of a lot of physical items in the first phase, but since I’m probably going to be unsure/miss some things I’m going to redo this process on a smaller scale in 4-6 months.

How? This is a great place to put in a quick disclaimer that I will be interpreting the challenge the way I see fit. I do not agree with everything the creator, Muchelle B, says (which is perfectly okay!). I also will not be fitting into the minimalism aesthetic. I don’t have plans to live out of a suitcase or to get all white furniture and a neutral wardrobe. If that’s what you’re here for I’m sorry to disappoint. I’m basically just downsizing to my minimal necessities- which will not fit the current aesthetic to this lifestyle. I want my life to stop revolving around things and to start focusing on dreams and goals- which, I believe, is the entire point of minimalism.

I hope you guys stick around for this new adventure! I will try to keep my blog up to date on my progress, so until next time!

30 Day Simplify Your Life Challenge!

Today I’m putting up some different content on the blog, mostly because I’m going to start introducing some non-bookish elements on here! But no worries, I’m still going to be publishing loads of reviews and bookish posts in the future.

A few days ago I stumbled across Muchelle B’s YouTube channel and discovered the 30 Day Simplify Your Life Challenge, which immediately intrigued me. Muchelle B created the challenge in order to encourage and help support people who want to ‘simplify their lives’ by decluttering it. The first two weeks are focused on the physical decluttering of your space, while the last two weeks are focused on the mental decluttering of your life. You can definitely check out her videos about it here to learn more!

Since I graduated from college in December I’ve been feeling a bit lost and confused. My life literally feels like a mess and it doesn’t help that my room reflects the mess I feel inside. During my last semester I was so busy with my 5 classes and 2 jobs that I barely had time to do anything but sleep in my room, which resulted in the state of un-organization it’s in. It also doesn’t help that I literally keep everything!

With the new year and a new chapter in my life starting, I want to start clean. If I had the money I would probably get rid of all my clothes/sheets/ and non-sentimental items but I am a broke, recent college grad that needs to save as much money as possible for grad school. So I’m going to do the next best thing and save only the bare necessities.

Which brings us back to the 30 Day Simplify Your Life Challenge! Here is how it is set up:

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I can already tell you that some days(like declutter your wardrobe and paper) are going to take me more than one day since I start working again this week. But I’ll balance it out by lumping together electronics, digital space, and social media all in one day.

Hopefully this will be as life-changing as I’m imagining, but if all else fails at least I’ll have a tidy room. I am planning on documenting my journey on this 30 day challenge on my blog, so I’ll be back soon with an update!