A YEAR OF MINIMALISM: THE BEFORE

Originally published on The Renovation Project, February 2017

My mom has said for as long as I can remember, “less is more”. I’ve come to understand this through accessorizing; in middle school, it was charm bracelets + choker necklaces + flair jeans + sparkly lipgloss + blue eyeshadow + meticulously curled hair + Juicy Couture zip-up jackets. I didn’t agree with her. More meant more. But, as always, my mom was right, and thanks to the rise of Swedish designers in the industries of fashion, jewelry design, and home decor (IKEA included), I am learning that minimalism is not only cool, but healthy and freeing and kind of – fun?

More than the embarrassment of remembering outfit combinations of old and the latest explosion of Swedish designers appearing on my favorite blogs and Instagram accounts, though, minimalism is becoming more critical to my spiritual well-being. It’s a lot easier to allow God to work in my life, and direct the desires of my heart toward him, when I’m not cluttered in mind and physical space. Hearing his voice is simpler when I quiet my own in regards to my materialistic wants, and his presence is more satisfying when I, myself, am more present.

So, I am unfollowing brands on Instagram, and unsubscribing from their emails (although, admittedly, The Reformation somehow sneaks through every time I do a clean sweep. Their copy is so. good. it. hurts. And also, every single item is. so. good. it. hurts.). It’s not so much that I am an impulsive spender, a shopping addict, or even that this would be necessary to my success (as being defined by completing my year of minimalism and abiding by my set of rules), but I am doing my best to remove myself from situations that prompt covetousness. I think that I could finish this year successfully while receiving emails from Sephora for its entirety, but it would make it much more difficult. And I would probably spend more time being sad rather than appreciating the abundance that I do have.

Everyone collets clutter and excess differently, but for myself in particular, this is actualized most clearly in regards to my wardrobe. Or, rather, at its worst, my floordrobe. I’ve cleaned out my closet and I’ve never liked it more than I have now (albeit, it is a lot smaller), because I like every single piece and every single piece actually fits. I sold a box and a half of clothes and shoes – the ones I tried to like but couldn’t, the ones that fit but only by force, and the ones that I’ve had since high school because I am now in my mid-twenties and should really dress like it – and the remainder I left for donation. I didn’t want them back, though I did have to suppress the sentimentality I felt toward them, because I knew they would end up sitting in the trunk of my car taking up space. And, in the pursuit of a minimalistic year, anything taking up space without reason is detrimental to my composure. What I can acquire are replenishments and replacements, anything creatively driven (like film, sketchpads, paintbrushes, books, etc.), home goods, experiences, and maintenance for the things I already own. What I cannot acquire are clothes, shoes, jewelry, accessories, swimwear, manicures/pedicures, and makeup. Note to self: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

It’s still January in Seattle, if only for only a few hours more, but this month certainly sees more restriction than any of the others thanks to resolutions, especially in regards to food, alcohol, social media, and monetary spending. We give up a lot at the start of the year to better ourselves and improve our lives, even stretching so far as to abandon lifelong bad habits, jobs, and relationships, in pursuit of better; we give these things up because, ultimately, what we want is more for ourselves (in terms  of happiness, joy, love, simplicity, fulfillment, etc).

Why does it seem that the more we give up, the more we will be satisfied? Because there are so many things in this world that promise satisfaction that are not Jesus.

I think it would be understandable and relatable and for me to say that it’s been a hard month and all I want to do is buy stuff – and yes, I’ve had moments – but that’s actually not the case at all. I feel freedom. I feel free because no clothing item sparks inner deliberation with myself; it’s always just a “no.” Once or twice, it was a “yes, but in 2018”. *Like Glossier’s Boy Brow*. I mentioned that it’s still January, so I’m writing this while I’m still in the honeymoon phase. I’m 1/12th of the way through, but it’s been easier than I’ve expected. I’m dressing like an adult (woman!) and less like a little boy on most days, taking better care of the things I already own, and spending more time in gratitude. I’ll report back in 11 months, hopefully with news of success, but until then, I’ve figure if I can get through 2016 without it, I can get through 2017 without it – like it ain’t no thang.

MusingsSophie Sturdevant