The Gifts I Gained Through Minimizing

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By Kate Kole

I’ve experienced the craving to live with less for a while. Not to create scarcity or restriction in my life, but rather, to live simply and more intentionally. Put in the kitchiest of ways, to have a place for everything, everything in its place, and for all of those deliberately chosen and placed items to have a purpose.

So, room by room, closet by closet, and drawer by drawer, I set out to trash, recycle, and donate all the excess stuff I’ve managed to accumulate in the last 30 years. When I habitually found myself unable to sleep at 4 am, I rolled out of bed and began tackling one project at a time. Surprisingly, the sorting, decluttering, and tossing became therapeutic. It felt freeing to quite literally let shit go.

And I learned so much along the way. I discovered that, contrary to popular belief, bobby pins don’t actually disappear. They just end up in the bottom of every single purse, cabinet, bin, and coat pocket I’ve ever owned. I’ve accrued enough towels, dishes, and silverware to host the casts of Kate Plus 8 and 19 Kids and Counting, JIC they happened to casually pop in together. Should I be invited to attend a gala, dinner cruise, and awards ceremony all in one week, I have enough formal wear to dress myself. And my sister. And my mom. And finally, if you ever find yourself out and about and in desperate need of hand sanitizer, lip gloss, koozies, or tampons, I am your girl. Or, I should say, was your girl.

Because, finally, thousands of items trashed and a couple of carloads to the donation center later, I refreshingly feel that I have bid farewell to the majority of things I don’t want, need, or in many cases, didn’t even remember owning.

Unexpectedly, in the process of getting rid of so many items, I also felt like I gained a few key gifts:

Clarity. In my struggle with anxiety, I often feel overwhelmed. I convince myself of all the things I need to do, right now, and with equal priority. As I began to consider what was actually worth keeping in my life, I got rid of the distractions. And in doing so, I feel like I’m now better able to focus on what’s most important to me.

Contentment. It’s easy to get lost in the land of wanting more. Each time I go shopping or browse online, I have a moment of realizing that I need something I never even knew I wanted. The world of marketing is full of creative ways of selling all ways we can become worthier. Paring down seemed to have the opposite effect. In zeroing in on what I already have, I experienced a feeling of abundance over one of desire.

Connection. Because I only kept the things that add value to my life, I feel a greater sense of affinity for them. And beyond that, I think that letting go of what I don’t want has encouraged me to equally consider what I do want – not only in relationship to my things, but also in my relationships with my family, friends, and self.

Minimizing my wardrobe, apps, trunk, and Claire’s jewelry collection from 7th grade hasn’t rid me of FOMO or stress. It hasn’t changed the essence of who I am as a human being or the insecurities and doubts I have. But I like to think that it has encouraged me to step back and consider what’s meaningful, not to the masses, but to myself. We live in a rushed and busy world, and in many ways, taking time for reflection feels counter cultural and strangely without purpose. Yet, what I learned through my ongoing journey to less, is that perhaps that type of reflection is exactly what I need more of in my life.


{featured image via unsplash}

2 thoughts on “The Gifts I Gained Through Minimizing

  1. blissfulbohemian17 says:

    Have you seen the minimalism documentary on Netflix? You would love it! It certainly changed my perspective on possessions and their inverse correlation to our happiness.

    Like

  2. Ali says:

    So proud of you! For years I have been trying to do more of this, but I just keep bringing it all back in. Now, if I get something, I give something. Baby steps:)

    Like

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