Are you a minimalist? Do you ever wonder if you are minimalist enough to be a “real minimalist”? Maybe you have felt guilty about having a bit more than you know you need? Do you, in short, feel like an imposter or fake minimalist? It’s time that you define minimal for yourself!
Everyone has their own way to practice minimalism. It looks different for different people. That doesn’t mean you should feel guilty about how you define minimal in your life!
Let me tell you about my struggle with these feelings and the reasons that you and I really are minimalists after all!
What Does It Mean to Be a Minimalist?
So what does it be a minimalist? Are you a minimalist? What is a minimalist anyway? Is a person who has tan and black clothes and uncomfortable furniture? Is it a Buddhist monk high in the mountains of Tibet? Is it that influencer on Instagram living the van life?
Here is the answer the dictionary gives for the word minimal:
“of a minimum amount, quantity, or degree”Oxford Dictionary
So what does it mean to be a minimalist? It means that you try to keep things to a minimum. That’s easy to understand.
But what the dictionary doesn’t do is actually put a number on what is minimum. That means that being a minimalist doesn’t come with a set number of items you can own. It doesn’t restrict you to have the same stuff other people have or have the same life as they do.
What Does It Mean To Be a Minimalist FOR YOU?
We all have very different lives, families, interests, weather, and so on. Your life is as unique as mine is and what is the minimal amount you need is not the same as the minimal amount I need.
For example if you life in Florida you might not need a coat. I however live where it snows so I need at least one but actually more like 3 for different circumstances.
The problem is we like to compare ourselves to others so when we read books on minimalism or look at Pinterest pictures of minimalist homes we start to define minimal the way that others do. But you have to define minimal for yourself because your life is unique and different from mine or anyone else!
Are you a minimalist? It depends on your life, needs, wants, and circumstances!
Are You A Minimalist? Am I?
Does minimalism make you feel guilty? I will tell you a secret. I am writing this article because I know exactly how you feel!
For a long time, I would question if I really was a minimalist. I would look at my closet and think, I am not a minimalist! I love love love clothes!
But let’s back up and look at my journey.
I was raised in a middle-class tract home on a middle-class budget. I belong to a religion that encourages keeping a simple eye and a simple life. My nature is to be easily contented. For the first 10 years of my marriage, I lived in a 300 sq. foot studio apartment and now we share my parent’s home and basically live in the master suite.
Still, I sometimes feel that I am not a minimalist, not truly because I have more pretty dresses (cause I like to sew) than I need and more jewelry (cause I make it for fun) than anyone needs. I also love color and pretty much hate neutral colors and white walls.
So what do I say to my guilty minimalist self? How do I define minimal for my life? What do I want to say to you about this?
Are You a Minimalist? What is Your Mindset?
My life has always been pretty simple. That is true. A lot of our lives are pretty simple.
But I wouldn’t say I started thinking like a minimalist till I went to the Dominican Republic. When I was there I saw entire families living in places as small as my studio apartment and not nearly so well furnished. I also saw that they were more generous and friendly than many who have much more are.
When I returned to my studio apartment I looked at it in a new way. Instead of praying for God to help us find a way to move to something bigger I appreciated the gifts my apartment gave us. More time, more money, less worry, and less stress. That’s when I started telling myself:
“It’s not God’s fault if you have too much JUNK!”Jessalynn Jones
That’s when my mindset changed and I stopped buying into the consumer thinking that surrounds me. That’s when I started to get the minimalist mindset. The I don’t need bigger and better and more more more mindset.
I am sure that you had a moment that changed your mindset too. That moment where you stopped buying into the consumer culture and started looking for simplicity means that you really are a minimalist.
Even if you have a little more stuff than you need, your minimalist mindset means you aren’t ALWAYS looking for more! That’s really what the minimalist lifestyle is all about!
Are You A Minimalist With Less Stuff Than Before?
Sometimes you may feel that you still have too much stuff to call yourself a minimalist. I get it. As I said, I’ve totally been there.
But then I think about how far I have come. I have paired down significantly. Gone are the days of collecting tchotchkes and do-dads. I no longer jump for the newest and best-est and I don’t even sew a new dress for every special occasion anymore. When I think of going shopping I don’t know what I would need so I just don’t go.
When you don’t feel like a “real” minimalist pause and look back at your old self. Are you a minimalist compared to how you used to be? You may have more stuff than you absolutely need but I bet you have come a really long way in decluttering your house!
You probably don’t even shop as a hobby or compare yourself to the proverbial “Joneses” anymore. That means you really are a minimalist!
Are You a Minimalist Who Collects More Experiences Than Things?
I hope all those silly feelings of guilt about being a fake minimalist are starting to dissipate. Are you a minimalist? Sure you are!
But if you are thinking about the things you have and are still feeling a little icky think about this. Why do you have those things?
I have a kayak, a tent, a violin, a sewing machine, and my jewelry-making supplies in my closet. Why do I have those things? Because in the summer I love to kayak and camp! I am also a creative person who needs a creative outlet to manage anxiety and so I still create beautiful things (and sell most of them). And last but not least, I love music so I play my violin almost every day!
Are you a minimalist? Are you a living breathing human being too? Then I bet you are a minimalist who has passions and hobbies. Maybe you have kids and all the things that kids need. Perhaps you love to have people over.
Whatever it is you have, odds are you have it because you use it to enrich your life with beautiful experiences.
Your life isn’t about things, it’s about experiences. You collect experiences over things. Sometimes you need things to have those experiences but that doesn’t mean you aren’t a minimalist!
Putting the value in life on experiences instead of money is the very heart of minimalism!
See, I told you, when you define minimal in the context of your life sometimes you need more stuff than the minimalist in the magazines. That doesn’t mean you aren’t a real minimalist so stop feeling guilty about it.
Are You a Minimalist With A Changing Life?
Life is ever-changing and you are ever-growing. What you need now you might not want later. The things that you can’t bring yourself to let go of now may mean nothing to you in a few years.
Minimalism isn’t about making life hard, cold, or austere. The whole point of simplifying your life is that it points a spotlight on the things that matter most to you and helps you enjoy them more fully.
How minimalist are you right now? Let it work for you in your life! Then enjoy the version of simple living that makes your life enjoyable now and stop feeling guilty about the kayak if you love to kayak and the extra clothes if you love to wear them.
What does it mean to be a minimalist? It means you are trying to have the minimum of what you need. It means that you can have things that you love and use! Let minimalism fit your life and enrich your life!
I can honestly say from experience that I have never lost ground on my minimalist journey. Over the years I have felt less and less attached to stuff and I simplified it more and more but it took time. When I wasn’t ready to let go of something I didn’t and that was fine. Later, when it didn’t mean so much to me I let it go. Give yourself time!
Are You a Minimalist Who Inspires Others?
You may not ever talk about it but your simple life is noticed by those around you. When they look at your life they see something that is different than what they see everywhere else. You show them that it is possible to be content and even to be happy with less.
Maybe it will start slowly but your simple life will influence those around you. I am a minimalist because some of the happiest people I know live a very simple life and I wanted my life to look that way too!
Be the light that inspires others to step to the side of the rat race of getting more, more, more. Show your friends that minimalism isn’t for weirdos and simplicity is totally doable because they can define minimal for themselves too!
You can help your friends spend more time with their families, stress less about money, and chase their dreams simply by being the minimalist you are!
How Minimalist Are You? Don’t Worry!
I wrote this article because I have struggled with the feeling that I wasn’t minimalist enough. I also wrote it because when, in a minimalist Facebook group, I asked if anyone else felt this way I got a LOT of people saying that they do. If minimalism makes you feel guilty you are not alone!
But you know what else they said in that thread? They told me to stop feeling guilty because minimalism is relative to everyone and their life and journey.
How minimalist are you? Are you looking for a A+ or a certificate or an attaboy? Don’t! It’s not worth worrying about. You are on a journey!
So the next time you feel like you aren’t a real minimalist just remember that there are a lot of REAL minimalists that don’t want you to feel that way and totally welcome you to join their club! You REALLY are a minimalist so stop feeling guilty and own it!
What type of minimalist are you? How are you making the minimalist lifestyle work in your life? Please share in the comments below!
What Is a Minimalist & How Do You Get Started?
Are you a minimalist beginner? What does it mean to be a minimalist and how will it improve YOUR life?
It’s TIME TO FIND OUT! There is really no reason not to start enjoying your journey to the simple life today! Now is the time to try the minimalist lifestyle! Learn why minimalism is good for your mental health and relationships, how it can transform your finances, so you can start having more energy and time for the things that matter!
But what if simplifying your life sounds like an overwhelming task?
If you want to simplify your life but the big bad word MINIMALISM scares you let me help! I wrote Doable Simplicity (Minimalism For Normal People) to help you get the inspiration you need to simplify your life and then take solid steps that make simple living doable for you!