Minimalism is on the rise right now, and for a very good reason. It makes a structured, organized, and often more comfortable home. In fact, minimalism is all about making do with less and removing things that are unnecessary from your life. I like to think of myself as a minimalist, (at least for the most part), but I have learned several things about minimalism since starting my journey, including these three mistakes that I would like to share with you.
Problem One: Going Overboard
The thing I found the most funny about minimalism is how easy it is to go overboard with the ideal. In my experience, being a minimalist means adopting a minimalist mindset, right? Now, if you think about it, is going overboard on minimalism a minimalist mindset? I don’t believe so. Isn’t it funny that when we call ourselves minimalists, but yet we tend to go overboard and refuse to be minimal on minimalism itself? Isn’t that a paradox! The problem is, people do tend to go crazy overboard with minimalism, including myself. But is owning almost nothing truly healthy? For example, I remember seeing a young couple on Youtube several years ago. They lived in a four room flat in California. They were a minimalist couple, and the young lady decided to show her viewers around their little home. Being new to minimalism, I was excited to see what a minimalist house looked like. I was shocked to find out that they owned almost nothing. They had a desk, a bed that folded into a couch, and a few small kitchen appliances. That was it. Their lifestyle gave me so many questions. What happens when they have friends over? Where would they sit? What if family wanted to visit? Where would they sleep? I remember thinking that if this is what minimalism looked like, I did not want to be a minimalist. But the funny thing was, when I joined the minimalist bandwagon, I started thinking down a similar path.
About a month ago, I was discussing a new furniture set for the living room with my husband. My suggestion was to get rid of all of our old furniture, start from scratch, and get two reclining chairs, one for him and one for me. He asked, “Where are the other chairs going to go?” Snarkily I said, “What do you mean,”Other chairs?” The two recliners is all the furniture that will be in this room, except maybe a coffee table and floor lamp.” Slightly irritated, he asked me if I expected guests to sit on the floor. I was taken aback because I hadn’t even considered other guests. We talked about it a while longer, and I humbly realized that it was important to have a seating arrangement for guests to be comfortable as well.
The moral of the story is, it is important to consider other people that will be in your life during your minimalist journey. You have to address their comfort also. Remember that family may stay in your home, and friends will come over to visit. If you don’t have proper seating for your friends or a comfortable bed for your family, will they want to come over again? It is crucial to balance minimalism with the comfort of other people in your life… mainly because you love them and you would want them to make you feel comfortable at their homes too!
Problem Two: Not Respecting Your Family’s Space
Another problem I have come across during my clutter purge journey is respect. As I’ve stated in previous posts, my husband is not a minimalist, and I doubt he ever will be. That being said, we have gotten into plenty of fights about his overflowing collections, mainly the massive amounts of board games he owns. But something I have learned, and am still learning, is that my husband enjoys his board games as much as I enjoy my own hobbies. Therefore, It was important for us to find a win-win situation. Instead of nagging him to “Please downsize your board games,” as I had always done, I asked my husband to find a new place for his games where I didn’t have to look at them all the time. He agreed, and we spent two hours cleaning everything up and putting the games away from my cozy chair. It was a win-win situation for both of us. My husband kept his games, and I am now able to relax on my chair without being surrounded by something I wasn’t enjoying.
When it comes to minimalism, I have learned (and am still learning) that it is important to respect our spouse’s hobbies, collections, and things. Yes, these things take up space, and you may not have the perfect, minimalist household you want, but it is worth it to have a better relationship with the people you love. What’s more important… A minimalistic house, or a good relationship with your family? Therefore, if a member of your household wants to keep something… even if you don’t like it, you should never become angry at them. After all, it is their stuff, isn’t it? As much as it bothers us minimalists, enforcing our ideals on other people is not a healthy thing to do.
Problem Three: Throwing Away Stuff You Actually Want to Keep
I don’t know how many times I have thrown away or donated something I honestly should have kept. I have told you all the story of how I accidentally donated all of my husband’s jeans, right? If you don’t remember it, you can read the story on my earlier blog post, “When You are a Minimalist, but Your Partner Isn’t.” Anyways, after that happened, I tried very hard to evaluate everything I threw away or donated in order to avoid the jean problem. But my “minimalist mindset” often prevented me from logically evaluating the items, because I first and foremost wanted to have a “minimalist” house. In the process, I donated one of my favorite Cleveland Indians shirts just because it was getting old. I can tell you that I still regret that choice all these years later. I also got rid of a few pairs of boots I needed and a winter jacket. Although that winter coat was one of the ugliest coats I have ever owned, it was literally the only winter coat I had! What a dumb mistake. I ended up having to wear my peacoat through most of the winter. And don’t even ask me why I didn’t buy myself a winter coat sooner! The point is, make sure the stuff you get rid of is something that you are sure you won’t need in the future. Making do with less is fine, but injuring yourself and the people around you in the process just isn’t worth it.
I am all for minimalism and the concept of it, but it is important to find a win-win situation that works best for you and your family. If some people in your household aren’t minimalists, then it is probably healthy to not enforce minimalism to anyone other than yourself. Make sure your home is comfortable for everyone, including guests and family. And last but not least, do your best not to donate all of your husband’s jeans!