It all started when I got home from college after my first year and realized I hated all of my clothes.
This wasn’t your average wardrobe dislike. Everyone looks at their clothes from time to time and is dissatisfied. This was a realization that I had not updated my wardrobe in about five years, and that the person I was five years before was not the same person as the one staring at my closet full of clothing I never wore and didn’t like anymore.
[bctt tweet=”It all started when I got home from college and realized I hated all of my clothes. ” username=”wearethetempest”]
I went through a lot of different phases in high school; who doesn’t? But because I hadn’t grown, height-wise, since I was 13, I had just never gotten rid of anything. I shoved the old clothes to the back of the closet and bought new things to fit my new look.
But at this point I was 19, wearing clothes I’d owned for seven years. None of the clothes felt like me anymore. I was an adult dressing up like a child. It felt like I was wearing the masks of my former self as armor, to protect myself from a future I was unsure about.
I had just gone through, arguably, the worst year of my life, and I was still reeling from a depression the likes of which I had never experienced before. I needed a change and my closet was something tangible I could deal with. Why deal with emotions when you can transfer emotions onto stuff?
So, I went to the internet.
Like any respectable millennial, I knew that the answers for whatever I could possibly need would be there. And I found the concept of capsule wardrobes, my first foray into minimalism (Side note: if you want to try capsule wardrobes, look up Project 333 and search capsule wardrobes on YouTube; there are so many awesome creators!).
[bctt tweet=”I felt like I was wearing the masks of my former self as armor.” username=”wearethetempest”]
I can’t remember exactly which video or content creator I watched first, but something about the idea of capsule wardrobes really struck a chord with me. Essentially, a capsule wardrobe is a small collection of clothes where the pieces have a cohesive feel and work together, so you can create a vast array of outfits. It’s paring down your wardrobe to your favorite pieces and wearing them every day.
I loved that idea. I also loved the idea of getting rid of the clothes that no longer suited me. Why hold on to them when they held no purpose for me and just took up space?
Letting go of the clutter that had built up in my closet and my bureau started to show me the amount of sentimentality that I attached to my possessions. Some of it was negative. When I started letting go of the negative, it felt as if a weight were lifting off my shoulders. So, I started to get rid of more than just my clothes. I tore through my childhood bedroom, trying to dispose of 19 years of life lived there, getting rid of the weight I felt from my possessions.
[bctt tweet=”I felt I needed to own less and less to be considered a ‘minimalist.'” username=”wearethetempest”]
From there, I wanted to apply more aspects of minimalism to my life. I wanted to throw out everything I owned at one point and start fresh. It was as if I needed a blank slate to create a new minimalist life. I wanted to own less and less because I thought that the less I owned, the happier I would be. With fewer possessions, I should feel happier. But it wasn’t making me happy.
What had started for me as something that was beneficial to my recovery from my depressive episode had become detrimental. The other people I saw who were practicing minimalism weren’t inspiration anymore – they were competition. I felt I needed to have less and less to be considered a “minimalist.”
Finally, when I had three huge bags of clothing and two boxes of books and a trash bag full of things, it hit me. I needed to slow down. The end goal of minimalism isn’t owning nothing. It’s having what you need and what brings you joy.
So, I took a step back. I did a social media detox, and I started a new regimen to help with my mental health. Slowly, I started to remove the elements from my life that weren’t serving me anymore.
[bctt tweet=”The end goal of minimalism isn’t owning nothing. It’s having what you need and what brings you joy.” username=”wearethetempest”]
When I went back to school I tried to be more intentional with how I lived. I tried to distance myself from the almost commercial side of minimalism, where people showed off their perfectly curated lives. Too much inspiration breeds envy for me. It was about finding that happy medium.
Once I found it, it was easier to find my way back to the core tenets of minimalism – live with less, live for experiences, not things, and to quote The Minimalists: “Love people and use things, because the opposite never works.”
Those core tenets, of only owning what brings me joy, of seeking out experiences rather than things, and of carefully curating my life to create a better one, for me specifically – these are the ways that minimalism has changed me. Creating a capsule wardrobe was a good first step, but really adopting the philosophy was what helped change my perspective on life.
[bctt tweet=”Everyone is seeking simplicity, however they choose to find it.” username=”wearethetempest”]
I still identify as a minimalist. My minimalism might look radically different from another person’s, but that, to me, is the beauty of this movement. Everyone in it is seeking simplicity, and however they find it, that is their path.
Mine took me down a path where I don’t own a lot of clothing but I have a lot of kitchen supplies because cooking brings me joy. And ultimately, I’m happier. I’m lighter. I am more focused on the important parts of my life, and less on the trivial.
And that is truly what minimalism is about for me.