How I (realistically) transitioned to minimalism

When I was sixteen, I began hearing about minimalism. I was immediately intrigued by the idea of only owning the essentials, but I dismissed the concept as something I could never realistically do. After watching my first documentary about minimalism, I immediately went to purge my closet. However, I realized I was unable to decide which things “added value to my life” (which was what every minimalist online said I needed to be doing), and I ended up keeping the vast majority of my things. 

Minimalism isn’t about owning nothing. Instead, it’s about prioritizing spending and what you choose to have in your life. Instead of mindless spending, minimalism is about living a conscious lifestyle filled with only the things that make you the happiest. 

But, I remained interested in minimalism, and slowly worked towards developing a more minimalist lifestyle that works for me. I’m definitely not the type of person who wears the same outfit every day, or owns only one plate and one fork, but I think minimalism can be different for everyone. 

Minimalism is a fantastic lifestyle to me, especially for college students. It has really helped me to prioritize what I spend my money on, and what I choose to take up space in my apartment. But, minimalism doesn’t mean owning barely anything. My apartment is still decorated, and I still have a full closet. But instead, I know I’m making use out of everything I have. Minimalism is not an extremist lifestyle at all. 

I’ve started with (attempting) to minimize my closet. Since high school, I’ve attempted to decide what in my closet is essential, or adds value to my life, and what is a t-shirt from middle school P.E. that I definitely do not need anymore. Before moving into school this year, I constantly edited a list of clothing I felt like was completely necessary. My wardrobe is still nothing like the extreme minimalists, but I’m happy with it, and I’m no longer constantly buying random clothing pieces that I end up wearing once. 

I feel like working towards something like a capsule wardrobe, with approximately 15 to 20 pieces in it,  has to be gradual, and I still have not gotten to that point. I’m not even sure if I even want to get to that point. I’m (finally) pretty happy with my wardrobe, and I think clothes are too much fun to resort to wearing similar, basic outfits every day. 

In terms of everything I own that is not related to clothing, I don’t live in an all-white room that looks uninhabited with one piece of art on the walls. Like with everything, I think just picking out what exactly makes me happy and adds value to my life is important. To give an example for myself, having a tapestry and Christmas lights adds value to my room, because it makes everything look more homey. But I’ve learned to cut myself off with buying an excessive amount of random posters and knick-knacks that end up remaining untouched and collecting dust. 

Moreover, the main reason why I’m so passionate about minimalism is that it has taught me to prioritize my spending. I’ve learned that I  love music, concerts, theater, and traveling much more than I like dropping money at Forever 21. I now feel like I can afford to spend my already-limited-college-student money on trips and experiences that I really care about, because I’ve gradually cut costs with the material items in my life. Also, I really believe that an all-or-nothing mindset is dangerous in minimalism. I’ve been working to get to the point I am at today since I was a sophomore in high school, and I’m still not completely satisfied. But especially with being used to living in the United States’ consumer-heavy culture, small, gradual steps towards minimalism are always better than not trying at all. 

So next time you find yourself at Urban Outfitters, take a few minutes to consider if you really need another quirky crop top, and if it will add value to your life. All of these small decisions I’ve made in the past four years have really allowed me to add more figurative color and vibrancy to my life through the experiences I’ve been able to afford through working towards minimalism.