August 1, 2018

Learning That The Best Way to Grow is to Subtract

One young woman’s journey from organizational hoarding to a life of minimalism.

Nearly eight years ago, my parents and my two older sisters shoved the last of our over-packed boxes into the moving truck, said our tear-filled goodbyes to our house, and slumped into the car to begin our long journey. We had made a family decision about a year beforehand to move from our comfortable shack of a house in San Diego, California, to a real house in the heart of Utah. We felt that it was right to go—with my dad’s ministry work—to live the life we all wanted.

As an eleven-year-old, I didn’t think I had that much stuff. However, as my memory serves, half of the boxes in the moving truck were mine. Now, I’m not sure how true that is, but I do know that when we unpacked our boxes in our individual rooms after the 800-mile drive, my room was overflowing with things.

This new room was twice as big as it was in California, and I couldn’t wait to fill it. I had a large closet that was well past its capacity to hold clothing items, most of which I didn’t even wear. A bookshelf was placed in the corner with books upon books upon books, most of them I didn’t even know I had. There was also a six-drawer dresser and two nightstands that were completely filled.

I must have assumed that this was normal because nothing was done about the surplus of stuff that I possessed until many years later. I had done decluttering sessions here and there, but the space that I had emptied would always be filled back up again with on-sale items from the local thrift store or items that had been handed down to me from my older siblings. It wasn’t until my freshman year of high school that I realized… maybe this isn’t the world I want to live in or the narrative I want to keep.

My minimalist journey did not begin easily. At least once a week for three or four months, I did a ruthless purge of my things. If I had not worn it in the last six months, or if I hadn’t thought about the item in six months… it was gone from my life. I had vowed to myself not to purchase anything for a few months while I used and fully appreciated the things I already owned (spoiler alert: it felt incredible).

The purge sessions became obsessive. It felt so good to give things to people who needed them more than I did, to live with a more value-aligned life, and live with only the essentials. Cleaning, organizing and reducing is still a major part of my life, but it’s no longer a necessity. I have newfound clarity in my thoughts, a spring in my step, and a radiant sense of joy that could have never been attained had I not found minimalism.

I have gone from a stuff-obsessed, bitter and moody teenager to a radiant, value-aligned and loving young woman—all because of my perspective on stuff. It’s still interesting to me to see how material items—or the lack thereof—have changed my life.

If you are feeling stuck or unhappy with where you are, perhaps look around and see what you could change. Could you declutter the negative thoughts in your head? Or could you dive into that chaotic corner of the house that remains stoically unkempt? Maybe there are relationships that you need to re-evaluate but haven’t gotten around to yet?

Minimalism, in any aspect, might just change your life forever… for the better.

Published by Hannah Micaela in Lifestyle

Photography by Olia Gozha

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