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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Siena chapter.

I’m sure everyone can relate to the following two paragraphs:

Your dresser drawers are overflowing, your closet is jam-packed, your bookshelves are littered with more than just books, and when was the last time you saw the surface of your desk?

You’re overwhelmed every time you think about cleaning, and just end up dumping everything into a pile somewhere in your room. Subconsciously, your mental health is becoming affected. You don’t know where things belong, and you’re losing track of not just your belongings, but your school work and basic necessities like toothpaste, lotion, tampons, etc.

If you live in a dorm, this situation is a nightmare. Your roommate is probably frustrated at your excess amount of belongings, or maybe is having the same problem.

If you live at home (like me) – it’s a little worse than a nightmare. You have so much stuff that it’s overflowing into the rest of the house and mingling with everyone’s extra belongings.

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I decided over the past year to do a lot of things, one of which is to minimize my wardrobe and belongings. I don’t know what exactly prompted it, but I do remember hearing the scary statistic that we buy something new (clothing, book, decor, jewelry, etc.) every six weeks – and rarely do we get rid of it after two years. I had been meddling with the idea to weed out my belongings for awhile, but that statistic probably kicked my minimalism journey into overdrive. My thought process was something along the lines of: I could be spending my money on textbooks and gas, not clothing and impulse buys. I need to save up money for college – and odd jobs/minimum wage don’t exactly pay for college too well.

I began my minimalism journey by tackling what I loved most: my book collection. I had four bookshelves filled with textbooks, poetry, sci-fi, picture books (I worked in childcare at the time), self-help books, etc. To my complete surprise, I discovered there were at least two hundred books that I owned and never read, and about two dozen I had borrowed from friends/family and never returned.

At the same time, I decided to weed through my wardrobe and get rid of anything that I didn’t like or that didn’t fit me. I believe I ended up with two trash bags of clothes, scarves and shoes – most of which I consigned to various shops in my area.

I forced myself to spend an hour or two every weekend going through belongings and discovering what I truly needed and what was taking up space. That necklace and Yoda wall decor from a “friend?” Dropbox. That book about Hinduism? Keep. My two laptops? Heck yeah, I’m keeping them. My dozen of notebooks filled with maniac scribblings and depressing, anxiety-ridden journal entries from middle and high school? I may have used them to fuel a bonfire. My cat’s four beds? Ehh…I kept them. (In my defense – I have three cats.) Art supplies, notebooks and a few dozen binders? I took all that to my kids at the childcare program. 

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Minimalism isn’t about having less. Okay, it is. But there’s more to it than that.

I started this journey to save money, but over time I have realized that the benefits of minimalism far outweigh the cons. I began to pay attention to the quality of products, how much energy I was willing to spend tidying up my belongings and what I valued most in my life.

There aren’t strict guidelines to being a minimalist – despite what bloggers and Youtubers say. There is no one way to do it. Some people prefer a capsule wardrobe of 40 pieces, a fuel-efficient car, a small apartment, no bed and ten books.

I have a fuel-efficient car and a small wardrobe. I will never be the minimalist who can count all of her belongings on ten fingers – because that’s not healthy. But living with what you cherish and use, and focusing your time on your friends, family, passion, career, pets…yourself?

That’s minimalism – and no one can tell me otherwise.

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Hannah Forbes is a Siena College Class of 2021 alumna. During her time at Siena, she studied Classics with a Writing minor.