Struggling with narratives of #minimalism

It all started with 2 spatulas. Seriously.

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I did a bunch of food prep last Saturday. I made a huge batch of meatballs, chicken noodle soup, pizza rolls and lentil soup to try and make dinner prep easier for myself during the week. I posted some photos to instagram – if you don’t follow me there and would like to see what I’m up to on a more day to day basis feel free to follow me there.

So, back to those spatulas. I own 2. Does that make me less of a minimalist than say someone who owns 1? 

These are thoughts that legitimately started spiraling through my head as I stood there and used my spatula to pull pizza buns off of a baking sheet. One spatula for pizza buns and the other for meatballs. I suppose I could have washed one of the spatulas and reused it lessening my need to have a second. But, what if I like having 2 spatulas? What if although “unnecessary”, I enjoy using my two spatulas? What if those 2 spatulas make me more efficient by simplifying my life?

This sounds ridiculous. I know. But, it got me thinking about other things in my house. I have a few pairs of shoes, far less than most people but still more than I truly need. I mean technically don’t we only need one pair? What about pillows? Blankets? Baking dishes? On and on and on. I scraped those pizza rolls and meatballs off those trays all the while thinking all these revolving thoughts.

I told Mer that night and he laughed and said I think too much.

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I think the problem is that this minimalism movement has become incredibly trendy. How many times do you come across perfectly white living rooms with some sort of caption pointing to a minimalist way of life. How did a white aesthetic come to be associated with minimalism? Does my brown couch somehow make me less of a minimalist?

In my experience, popularity somehow drives competition. I came across a blog this week claiming that a “true” minimalist has only x number of shoes, pants, sweaters, kitchen gadgets etc. But, who has the authority to set those rules? When did being a minimalist involve comparing the quantity of my goods to yours? If that’s what minimalism has become I’m not sure I want to be part of it because that whole narrative makes me rather uncomfortable.

It’s all rather frustrating too because I’ve come to enjoy having less stuff – not because it makes me more of a minimalist than you but because I’ve learned to enjoy my life in ways that are not attached to the need to own things which was such a dominant part of my life before.

It’s also rather sad because living more minimally is truly a wonderful thing. I sometimes fear that the popularity of the movement and these minimalist narratives might discourage people from challenging themselves to live more minimally because “rules” tend to be inflexible and overwhelming.

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To me, minimalism is guided by two principles: intentionality and contentment.

Having less stuff means that I’m far more intentional about what items and objects get the privilege to occupy space and energy in my home. By consequence, I’m far more intentional about my choices which makes me far more content. I’m happier because the items that do surround me are important and have value (to me) – they have a purpose and I genuinely want them in my life (yes, my spatulas are included). Contentment comes from appreciating moments that were formerly clouded by consumerist chaos.

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Minimalism isn’t and shouldn’t be guided by “rules”. Instead, it should be guided by  the notion that by lessening the consumerist chaos in our lives (whatever that looks like) we are able to achieve our own individual definitions of contentment (whatever those are).

What does minimalism mean to you?

If you identify as a minimalist, what contentment do you derive from living with less?

 

 

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