If you haven’t hopped onto the bandwagon yet, one of the reasons might be because you’ve fallen prey to some of the biggest misconceptions about minimalism.
While it’s easy to stereotype from the outside, I invite you to take a seat and grab your favourite hot beverage because I’m about to dispel some common misconceptions about minimalism and introduce you to how you can bring in a version of the minimalist ideology into your life, no matter where you are, who you are or how old you are.
Before we go on:
If you want to read the story of how I became a minimalist you can do that HERE.
I’ve also written a guide on how to start your minimalist journey with some first steps and questions to ask yourself along the way.
Dispelling common misconceptions about minimalism
#1 Minimilism is for young backpackers
The minimalism movement as we know it today came to our attention when we saw young, adventurous backpackers sell all of their belongings and head off to travel the world with 20 things in their backpacks – Looking at you Collin Wright.
Colin Wright was one of the first to adopt this lifestyle and document it, but even he shared that there’s so much more to the decision to scale down that could apply to people who would much rather stay home. (‘How to Travel Full-Time’; Colin Wright)
So, if you’re a home body who travels maybe once a year and loves having a comfortable home and not living out of a backpack there is still something you can find from the minimalist lifestyle.
Not to mention that there are young backpackers who, let’s just say, have not quite nailed the art of packing light. I’ve seen a many an overflowing suitcase in a cramped hostel bedroom to knock the nail into this myth’s head.
#2 Minimalism is expensive
The reality is quite the opposite. Approaching life from the minimalist perspective taught by people like Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Milburn, can be one of the most financially insightful and liberating experiences.
Yes, there is an element of privilege when minimalism is advertised in the mass media. But we shouldn’t compare the unrealistic standards of wealth and subjective success of celebrities, to what we could implement in our lives.
If used properly, minimalism can teach you how to be debt free and how to plan a more realistic budget. You could learn how to save more by buying more expensive items of better quality – you heard that right.
By not giving in to the predominant consumeristic culture, we wouldn’t need to be spending hundreds and thousands on fast fashion, bigger cars and more things because that’s what everyone else is doing.
#3 Minimalists don’t buy new things
As a minimalist, I buy new things often enough. I bought new clothes very recently in fact.
But the difference when buying new as a minimalist is that the new purchases replace old items which can no longer be used.
Some items of clothing have gone into the recycling? Time for a few new key pieces that are going to last another few years.
A lamp breaks in the living room? If it can’t be fixed, you have to buy one – whether it’s second hand or straight from production it’s still new to you. Which leads me to the next point.
#4 Minimalists only buy second hand
Buying second hand is great and I love a good trip to the charity shop for a browse and to give something pre-loved a new home. But it’s not true at all to say that minimalists don’t buy brand new items.
The key element with buying brand new as a minimalist is being aware of quality and the value it adds to your life. The point is that you want an item to be able to last a long time and that you can use often.
Sometimes buying brand new is the only option if it’s an item that can’t be found in a second hand shop or isn’t sold there for a variety of reasons.
Or maybe there’s an item you love that you want to buy a brand new version of – *gasp!*
Yes – bonus myth busting – Minimalists do sometimes buy things ‘just because’.
#5 Minimalism is a numbers game
If you asked me, I couldn’t tell you how many pieces of clothing I owned. I’ve never counted and I have no intention of doing so.
Anyone who says that in order to be a ‘real minimalist’ you have to have a full head count and inventory of every item you own, is missing the point entirely.
It’s less about how much you own, but more about how much you value the things you own. It’s about the purpose they serve and the value they add to your life.
#6 Minimalism has one single definition applicable to all
The truth is that if you knew me, you wouldn’t be able to identify that I was a minimalist, because my version of minimalism is going to be different to every single other minimalist out there.
The lifestyles comes in all different shapes, ages, genders and cultures.
It’s hard to actually define what minimalism is in one definition that everyone would resonate with. There’s a common understanding of the essence of the lifestyle and what the effect is meant to be but everyone then has their own guidebook on what works best for them.
And there’s no judgement here – if there is, again they’re missing the point entirely.
#7 Minimalism is bland and boring
I love bright colours and flowery prints. But I also love clean cut edges and neutral colours. My style guide for my minimal life is just that, my own. Liking one thing or another doesn’t make anyone any less a minimalist.
There isn’t a minimalist bible that said that minimalists have to wear dark or neutral colours or that our houses have to be all chrome and glass. Minimalism doesn’t have to be boring or bland.
Do whatever you want! Wear whatever you want and decorate your life with whatever you want.
#8 Minimalists are not sentimental
There’s a difference between being sentimental and keeping things out of fear and guilt. This can be a touchy subject but worth mentioning.
Of course minimalists keep things for sentimental reasons, for love or memory of love. But the question to ask is always why an item is being kept. And living minimally allows (and encourages) us to have the time and space to dive into those questions.
If you’re keeping something out of fear of letting go, or fear of forgetting – remember that a memory is not trapped within an inanimate object.
If you’re keeping it because of guilt or because it might disappoint someone – remember that other people, no matter who they are, cannot dictate what you surround yourself with. Just as they can choose what they have in their lives, so can you. You are not obliged to anyone’s things – set yourself free.
When we make room for the silence, we’re able to clean up the emotional, mental, and spiritual clutter that drives us mad.Joshua Fields Milburn
Minimalism is not just this state of being where you own fewer things. It’s an entire lifestyle and mentality shift, and it absolutely changed my life for the better.
I would love to know your thoughts on the above common misconceptions about minimalism or to hear about your journey with minimalism. Share them in the comments below!
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