Hi. I’m a 20 year old college student who likes stuff.
Yeah, I know that’s a pretty simplistic introduction. I mean, who wouldn’t like stuff? Stuff and things to be more precise- I like stuff so much in fact, that I make a habit of collecting all the stuff! Phone cases, journals, books, jewelry, stuffed animals, socks, t-shirts, you name it. I am a fan of the stuff.
Or at least I was.
I won’t lie- I’m a regular Amazon window shopper. Whenever I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed, I open up my Amazon app and immediately browse the cheaper items such as mugs and phone accessories, looking to see if there’s anything I might need. Usually the item I settle on is under $10 (plus shipping) and so I justify to myself, “Yeah, I can afford this one thing! I really need it! It will make me happy!” So then I’ve somehow clicked the “Add to Cart” button and now I’m happy for another few days as I wait for the email telling me that there is something waiting for me in the mailroom.
The problem with this is the happy feeling generally doesn’t last too much longer after those first few days after receiving the item. Sure, I don’t regret buying it, but the little rush of excitement I feel upon opening the item isn’t a sustained kind of happiness. Usually within two weeks or so, I find myself browsing Amazon again after another stressful day of school. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a “vicious cycle”, but it is a cycle nonetheless that only induces an extremely temporary relief from my stress, it’s kinda like drinking caffeine when you’re tired. You’re all jazzed up out of your fog of fatigue for a few hours but eventually the artificial energy high wears off and you’re right back to where you started- sleepy and only halfway through the day.
Acquiring material objects is like being on a caffeine high. It’s satisfying to a point, but then you ultimately go searching for more when the initial thrill wears off. Instead of being happy with what we do have, we crave more and more. More phone cases, more journals, more books, more stuffed animals, more socks, and more t-shirts. Sometimes it seems as if is no way to achieve sustained satisfaction.
Or at least, that’s what I used to think before I discovered Minimalism.
Over winter break, my mom encouraged me to watch a Netflix documentary called, “The Minimalists”. It was hosted by two men who self-identify as such. They live in simple, small apartments and keep only the necessities. If they don’t absolutely need something, they simply do not own it even though they are stable enough financially to afford many more material objects than they do. I was shocked. How could someone possibly survive in today’s society that is so heavily run by technology and staying up to date with all the newest… “stuff”? Turns out, it’s a lot easier than you’d think.
In addition to the two hosts, the documentary also included interviews with other self-proclaimed minimalists. Some people lived in tiny, rearrangeable apartments and others adapted their lifestyles to fit everything they owned into tiny houses. They had a place to store food, running water, a sturdy roof over their head, and a comfortable place to sleep at night. These people seemed so content and satisfied with what they did have instead of focusing on what they didn’t. This lifestyle was immediately appealing to me and I began to reconsider certain aspects of my own life.
Another woman that was interviewed for the documentary explained how she had developed Project 333- a minimalist fashion challenge that asks participants to limit their entire wardrobe down to only 33 items including shoes, non-sentimental jewelry, accessories, and outerwear (excluding workout clothes, socks, and underwear). The woman explained that one didn’t have to immediately donate or throw away all of the other items, but rather to store them away for 3 months and then at the end of those three months, pull out the stored clothes and restart with some new items. This challenge really resonated with me. I currently live in a university-provided apartment that comes with only a small closet to be shared between me and my roommate and two individual dressers, so there isn’t a ton of room for a fully extensive fashion wardrobe. But maybe all I had to do was get a bit creative. I sorted through my closet, deciding to bring all of my shorts and tank tops home since I most likely wouldn’t be needing them for the winter months. I kept a few pairs of jeans and some sweatshirts and t-shirts, narrowing down the size of my closet bit by bit (though I will admit to not quite being able to tackle my hats and scarves just yet. I can’t help it- I’m a perpetually cold human who carefully gages the weather before choosing a scarf with just the right texture for the temperature. I even wear them in the summer.) But by the end of the process, I was actually pretty satisfied with my work. I am notorious for waking up late and having a smaller clothing selection to choose from in the morning could only increase my efficiency when getting dressed.
Ultimately though, I think I’d like to incorporate more of a minimalist mindset into my life. My schedule is so hectic as it is that I don’t really need the added stress of worrying about material objects. I can learn to be happy and grateful for what I have. I can borrow accessories from my friends as opposed to buying a new pair of earrings for a single event. I don’t need to decorate my room with multiple Funko Pop figurines that only serve to take up space- instead I can print out pictures or create my own original artwork and pin them to my wall for a splash of color. I’ll still probably browse around on Amazon from time to time after a rough day, but instead of clicking “Add to Cart” maybe I’ll just check off “Save for Later” and then move on with my life.

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