What I Wish I Knew Before Becoming A Minimalist: Perfectionism, Keeping Things, and Embracing Difference

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It’s been officially two years since I decided to live simply as a self-proclaimed minimalist. Minimalism is about freedom; living out your values without caving to societal pressures. This decision saved my life from a shopping addict to someone who is a mindful-shopper and on a slow journey to ethical living. But there’s definitely a few things I wish that I knew before becoming a minimalist.

Minimalism is more then how much stuff you can get rid of or your ethical closet it. It’s about living a bold life, replenishing your mindset, and embracing constant evolution.

- Deborah Shepherd

The Minimalists once said, “There are no rules to minimalism. If you call you’re self a minimalist then you are a minimalist.” I live by this without having restrictions on my capsule wardrobe. However, our society is obsessed with perfectionism by holding complex humans to high, unrealistic standards that they can’t possibly achieve. I’ve experienced this and have actually done this to people in my life and online. This critical mindset is subconsciously punishing people for not living up to your idea of perfection but newsflash… no one will ever be perfect and neither are you. You will never be a “perfect” minimalist, vegan, or ethical shopper. Now, this isn’t an excuse to not be conscious about your consumption and to shop mindfully. But it is so important to carry enough grace for yourself and others who evolve slowly.

There will be times where you buy something that is unethical or that doesn’t align with your values…and you will live.

Also, I wish I knew that I can keep somethings. Yes, minimalism is about less is more and leaving space sometimes. In fact, if you haven’t gotten rid of something and you desire to pursue this lifestyle then I encourage you to do so today. Yet, you are allowed to keep the things that bring you joy even if it’s more than what your favorite blogger recommends.

There are no set rules to minimalist. You don’t have to be a vegan who owns exactly 34- pieces-of-clothing that lives in a tiny home or travels the world. Minimalism’s only requirement is that you have the freedom to live simply and according to your values regardless of what society is telling you to do. If you need to keep your mom’s sweater because she recently passed away then please keep it. Or that voicemail from your doctor announcing that you’re pregnant because you’ve been trying for 10 years and need to listen to it until you give birth. Or your college degree to…well, remind you that you’ve finished something (even if society tells you it doesn’t mean anything anymore). Keeping stuff only becomes a problem when it’s blocking space or freedom in your life.

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Lastly, I wish I knew Minimalism is not for people who want to blend in. You have to be fearless and comfortable with being a misfit. I’ve gotten a lot of people inquisitive about living simplify. Well, a scripture that has really inspired me is Matthew 19:21: “If you want to be perfect, go and sell everything you have and give the money to poor people. Then you will have riches in heaven. Come and follow Me.” How crazy does this sound, especially in our world today? In fact, I would encourage you to have responses for those who will challenge your new lifestyle.

  • When people say, “Everyone has debt. You’ll never actually pay off your student loans or credit card debt in under 5 years.” I respond, “Yes, I will by seeing the abundance that’s already around me and living in gratitude of what I already have.

  • When people say, “I can’t believe you shaved your head. That’s a little extreme don’t you think?” I respond, “Not at all. If I lost all my stuff tomorrow or my beauty faded away from an illness, burns, etc. then I’m still beautiful.

You can’t let people projectile vomit their personal fears onto you. I used to fear displeasing others so much that I would change, alter or shift my beliefs to make them comfortable. Respect yourself by standing up for what you believe in. It doesn’t mean that your opinions will never change but in this moment, you humbly disagree.