“I want to be a minimalist, but…”

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“I want to be a minimalist but I don’t want to give up on my hobbies and my hard-earned collection.”

“I want to be a minimalist but can’t I find black and white boring!”

“I want to be a minimalist but I don’t think I can because I live with kids.”

“I want to be a minimalist but can’t because I want to enjoy the finer things in life.”

“I want to be a minimalist but I don’t have time to declutter and maintain an immaculate space.”

These are but five of the many excuses given by people who are interested in minimalism but are too overwhelmed to embrace it. I’ll be busting each myth in my succeeding articles (excited to blog about how I plan to tackle my book hoarding addiction!). I’ll even provide a laundry list of resources which helped me get started in my next post.

But before I get to those posts, let me assure you: minimalism is not as complex, overwhelming, and exclusive as you think. Those excuses posted above? Don’t let them stop you from researching about minimalism as a way of life. You can be a minimalist and still enjoy reading your piles of books. You can be a minimalist even if you love all colors of the rainbow! Much has been said about the minimalist way of raising kids; go ahead and read them! I consider myself a minimalist but I don’t feel like I’m missing out on the finer things in life.

Stop making excuses. Forget the buts and can’ts. If you want to be a minimalist– read, learn, discover, ask– and become one.

Minimalism is Not These 10 Things

1. Minimalism is not frugality. Sure, the two concepts overlap at some point but they aren’t equal. Buying 3 t-shirts for 100 pesos in Divisoria is frugal, but not necessarily minimal. On the other hand, investing in 1 pair of high-quality leather shoes for 4000 pesos is not frugal but minimal if you intend to use them for years.

2. Minimalism is not about counting things. It’s not a contest as to who owns the least. There’s no magic number of clothes, shoes, and furniture to aim for.

3. Minimalism is not all about decluttering. Downsizing is a good start and a useful habit, but there’s more to minimalism than decluttering.

4. Minimalism is not one-size-fits-all. What works for The Minimalists, Joshua Becker, or Leo Babauta will not necessarily work for you. The great thing about minimalism is you can create your own blend depending on your preference and lifestyle.

5. Minimalism is not all black, white, amd gray. It’s not an obsession for immaculate white space, although many minimalists find that appealing.

6. Minimalism is not hating on consumerism. It’s not about boycotting products and brands. Minimalists– just like everyone else– needs food, shelter, transportation, amd supplies.

7. Minimalism is not about being a hermit, a monk, or a social outcast. Minimalism doesn’t impose that you become a digital nomad and cut off all your social media accounts.

8. Minimalism is not reserved for certain demographic only. It’s not reserved for young, single people who can afford not to “own” things.

9. Minimalism is not abstinence from things you enjoy. Minimalism does not aim to make your life miserable.

10. Minimalism is not a dogma that needs to be imposed. Some people benefit from it. Some don’t, and it’s totally okay. It’s not something that you should use to measure up other people.

Next article: What minimalism is

How I Discovered Minimalism

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It wasn’t through a dramatic wake-up call. I wasn’t neck-deep in debt. I wasn’t recovering from a loss. I discovered and embraced Minimalism after a series of events which sparked my interest in the movement.

The first spark happened a few weeks ago. I was at a department store with my boyfriend, looking at random stuff.

Me: “You know what’s weird? When I’m not in the mall, I can think of so many things that I want to buy. But when I’m here, I can’t think of anything I need.”

Him: “Me, too. We should make shopping lists next time.”

But did we really need shopping lists? If we needed something important, surely we’d remember, right?

The next spark happened a couple of days later while I was idly browsing my Instagram feed.

I saw a sponsored post by a particular local influencer I follow. In the picture-perfect shot, she’s shown casually pulling out a local mall’s loyalty card from her bag. I usually scroll past paid content but this one was exceptional. She was in winter wear, in the middle of  the friggin’ Arctic Circle (a trip made possible by another sponsor deal), and was taking out a loyalty card for a mall thousands of kilometers away. Why anyone would think that’s a great idea for a sponsored post is beyond me.

After I hit the unfollow button, I went ahead and examined profiles of the rest of the people I follow. There was over 1.7k of them! I barely see more than fifty profiles in my feed. Why am I following a thousand and seven hundred? Long story short, I went on an unfollowing spree. After a while, I got sick of looking at profiles of strangers with perfectly curated lives. When you visit one after the other, you’d realize how manufactured and templated their feeds are. Every one has a photo of herself holding champagne while in a bathtub, sipping coffee while looking at the morning sun, and fashionably crossing the pedestrian lane while looking away. Every one had the same Gucci belt, Gaia bamboo purse, and immaculate white Stan Smiths. Go ahead, check your “influencers.” I kid you not.

My unfollowing spree also led me to revisit an account I’ve forgotten I’ve followed. The account is handled by a group of proud Instagram boyfriends. It’s meant to poke fun at the lengths Instagram couples would go just to take the perfect shot. I’m sure I found it cute then, but now, it just made me question so many things. When did Instagram become a photo album of perfectly curated lives? Will these bloggers visit these destinations, eat these food, if not for the #gram? How much of what they post are paid for by sponsors? When did the ability to take flattering #OOTD photos become a requisite skill for an ideal boyfriend? Do fans, who comment #goals on these influencers’ photos, realize that they’re aspiring for something manufactured?

The decluttering didn’t stop in Instagram. I went on and unfriended people on Facebook– people I only met once, people I barely talked to, people I don’t remember adding. I unfollowed a whole lot of “friends” as well– friends who share fake news, friends who did nothing but complain, friends who didn’t add value in my life.

Days after, the digital decluttering snowballed into the physical world. I cleaned up my kitchen pantry, tossing away three garbage bags full of expired spices and ingredients I’ve used once almost two years ago. The next day, I was bagging clothes and shoes I haven’t used in more than a year. The day after, my expired make-up– apparently, I had so many-– were tossed out.

It was at this point when I went ahead and watched Minimalism– a documentary that’s been dormant in my Netflix list for years (I’m reserving Netflix clutter for another post!). And the rest is history. I’ve found a lifestyle aligned with my values. And I’m determined to embrace it from now on.

How about you? How did you discover Minimalism and what has changed since then?