I’ve been a minimalist now for 5 years – perhaps even longer. Looking around my house now and reflecting on life’s current trajectory, it’s hard to believe I was once a hoarder who sat in my gaming chair with no desire or direction. Tell a lie, I did have desire – to buy even more amazing and cool stuff to fill the shelves in the gaming room.
My bank account was almost always in minuses, but no matter what I bought there was always more on my wishlist. I was never satisfied, yet I was always certain that one more figurine, one more bag, or one more game console would do it for me. Just a little more, and the wanting would go away, I’d finally be happy.
Perhaps you can relate?
Slowing down enough to look back on myself is bizarre and a little scary; like watching the unrecognisable ghosts of who I was play out in some soundless, fragmented movie in my mind.
It’s strange but I often wonder where I’d be now if my parents hadn’t brought over and dumped the bin bags of my childhood clutter at my feet that day, and if my fiance (now my husband) hadn’t warned me that if I tried to store it, it was going straight in the bin.
At the time I was upset with his threats and mentally trying to come up with storage solutions, but looking back, he was only trying to stop me from stowing away literal trash in our already bursting house. He was fed up with my hoarding because it had become such an issue that I was in denial of.
Faced with the reality that there was nowhere to put all these bulging bin bags and boxes, I was forced to confront the hoard and sit with the pain some of the objects symbolised. I was forced to ask myself why I was holding onto childhood party invitations and school books with sad messages scrawled at the back, why I still needed piles of story books from when I was 8, and why I still had the cyber pet that no longer worked.
You see, even as a child I hoarded all kinds of things. Mum used to have to force me to get rid of huge piles of magazines or toys I’d grown out of because I simply couldn’t let go. As a teenager, the window ledge in my bedroom was lined with every Cadbury’s and Nestle Easter mug I’d ever received, plus a shelf full of Disney mugs and snowglobes I was collecting.
The top of my over-filled bookcase was stuffed with soft toys that hadn’t been hugged since I was small, and there were boxes upon boxes of plastic containers full of paraphernalia under my bed because all my drawers and cupboards were full.
It wasn’t until I discovered and began practicing minimalism that I understood the reasons behind my hoarding, because only with the time and space minimalism freed up could I begin to ask life-changing questions.
After dealing with the massive haul my parents brought over, I felt an unreal sense of lightness, like I’d just dropped huge bags of luggage I’d been carrying up a hill for miles, only it was internal and I’d been carrying it for years.
One day, while browsing Amazon for self-help books, I came across Francine Jay’s The Joy of Less. That book set me on the minimalist path that I’m on today and I’ve never gone back.
Over the years I’ve decluttered around 90% of my belongings, from laughable things found at the back of drawers to tear-jerking sentimental objects stowed in the attic.
And I don’t miss any of it.
The more I got rid of the more I discovered about myself – or should I say re-discovered.
My childhood dreams of becoming an author suddenly didn’t seem so ridiculous and out of reach. Travel and discovering new places started to appeal to me in ways it never had before. New possibilities for life began appearing in my mind.
Also, I didn’t want my kids to fall into the same trap I had, believing that happiness could only be found in the next new toy and that it was futile to pursue what you love.
As I discovered, clutter wasn’t just physical. It was also the false beliefs entrenched in me, the stories I told myself, the excuses I carried around, other people’s expectations of how I should live, and agonising memories that were no longer serving me. I didn’t want to be passing those lies and falsehoods onto my children, or continue to limit myself.
I started this blog, which I love writing for, started a Youtube channel, and went to college to train in becoming a counsellor.
Life isn’t perfect, but it’s clearer. Simpler. Lighter. Uncluttered.
Minimalism has revealed doors of opportunity and doing the inner work on myself has given me the confidence to open them. I continue to explore these open doors and to live as lightly as possible in a world which encourages more.