1. Determine why you’re considering becoming a minimalist.
For me, this was something that I never really thought of until I was months into the decluttering and downsizing process. The concept of “Why” popped into my brain right around the time I took the above photo. For me, living a minimal life just seemed like a natural fit. I loved the concept of adventures, and I wanted the freedom to travel more. So it made sense that the less things I owned, the less there would be to tie me down when an opportunity arose. You might have a totally different reason. Perhaps your concept of a minimalist lifestyle revolves around environmental concerns. Perhaps you want to spend more time enjoying the things you love (beyond classes) like checking out that singer-song writer club or applying for that RA position. And don’t fret if the way you you define your minimalist lifestyle today changes tomorrow. That’s ok. Embrace it!
2. Define what the term “minimalism” means to you.
Stemming off the above tip, it’s crucial for you to define “minimalism”. Everyone has their own idea, and usually their definition branches off why they’re choosing this lifestyle. For me, I define minimalism as “everything I own has a purpose and a use. There are no objects that just sit there with no function. All objects bring me happiness.” A few other definitions could revolve around clean eating and being a vegetarian or vegan; having an apartment, dorm, or workspace monochromatic with little decor; having a small yet versatile closet. Minimalism is what you make of it, so it can be as big or small of a part of your life as you’d like. What you put in is what you get out.
3. Set a timeline for downsizing and decluttering.
I want to say that this tip is optional, but if you’re serious about letting go of belongings, having a timeline and setting “deadlines” is a fantastic way to start. For me, downsizing and decluttering started at the end of the summer in 2016. I was a camp counselor at an arts camp in Michigan. When I was packing to head out to the midwest, I thought I did a pretty stellar job of not bringing much, especially since it fit comfortably in the car me and my dad took to road trip out there in. However, when camp ended, I found myself going on a spontaneous road trip to Chicago with two close friends in a small ass car. I had no choice but to chuck anything unnecessary into a dumpster or give it away to co-workers. I had a strict deadline (a matter of days to let go), and when I came home from Chicago, I made up my mind that I’d like to start 2017 as a full-fledged minimalist. January 1st was my deadline. The deadline didn’t put too much pressure on me, but it was a gentle reminder to start looking at my belongings with an objective and critical eye.
4. Choose a process that you enjoy.
When I came home from Chicago, I was forced to find a way to cope with a few different negative life changes that awaited me–mostly, a dreaded breakup after a long distance summer (lol. sigh.) I didn’t know how to deal with the guilt of it all, even if it was the right choice. One night I found myself cleaning out my closet before I headed back for the fall semester, and found a rush of energy. Then when I donated something, the sense of renewal I’d experience was unparalleled. It wasn’t hard for me to realize that letting go of a lot of objects at once was the best therapy I could give myself, and I’ve heard this repeated from so many of my minimalist friends. This form of therapy lasted for months, and came in waves. Downsizing became a process I enjoyed, especially whenever college and drama (and as a theatre major there’s a lot) made me feel weak. By getting rid of objects, I felt stronger, renewed, and refreshed, because it was a testament to relying on myself and only myself for happiness as opposed to the world around me. This was my process, but play around and have fun with adopting this lifestyle. There’s always the good ole fashioned: one in-two out rule, or you can play a song and grab as many untouched things and put them in a box by the song ends. As for the mental aspect of minimalism? Find what provides you with unparalleled happiness, and ask yourself, “what can I do to get there? How will this enhance my college career?”
5. Trust the minimalist mindset, and the rest will follow.
Becoming a minimalist is a mindset. It doesn’t matter how you define minimalism, how you start off, or why you feel the need to go about this. Once you acknowledge that you are a minimalist (even if you’re just starting out), and you embrace this lifestyle with open arms, you’ll attract more and more moments of zen in your daily life. You’ll attract more and more of what makes you happy, and you’ll deject so many toxins that live within every college environment–from stress over grades, toxic and dramatic friendships, unhealthy relationships, concerns and fears over individuality, to anxiety over college debt, and so much more!
all the love, SMK