We live in a world of extremes: hoarders and minimalists. I’d like to see myself as somewhere in the middle, trying to find that happy medium. I call myself a minimalist because of my more modernistic style preferences, but, in reality, that definition doesn’t suit me very well. For me, minimalism isn’t seeing just how many things I can live without. Instead, it’s being more conscientious about the things I own, deciding whether or not they serve a purpose and treasuring the sentimental things over the strictly materialistic things.
Living in Oklahoma, it’s practically a necessity in the springtime to have a tornado bag ready at all times. Though the chances are always slim to none that anything will ever happen, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
As I packed my bag, I realized something: about 95% of its contents were solely sentimental items… Mine and my boyfriend’s journal. Birthday cards from the kids I babysit. Art made for me by my closest friends. Countless polaroids of family members and friends. My favorite stuffed animal as a child, a lion named Brave.
Looking at the items I gathered, I realized that this is the true definition of minimalism. These were the things I decided I couldn’t live without. They were irreplaceable items that I couldn’t just go out and purchase because they were unique, one of a kind glimpses of my life.
Nowhere in my bag could I find my favorite pair of jeans or shoes. Nowhere in my bag could I find my abundance of floppy hats or headbands. Because, at the end of the day, those things don’t matter. They’re replaceable, unnecessary items.
Of course I’m aware that everyone needs material things in order to live a comfy life. But, for me, minimalism isn’t about the material things surrounding me. It’s about the stories behind them, their purpose in my life, not just their use as an object.
There are times when things need to be looked at strictly objectively. But, when creating a home, you have to take into consideration the emotion that a piece evokes. The art pieces I stowed in my bag weren’t necessarily a particular style, but the story and meaning behind them mattered so much more than their appearance.
I feel that “minimalism” has been taking to such extremes that it doesn’t even seem like an obtainable or desirable lifestyle anymore. It’s okay to have a little mess. Minimalism doesn’t mean ridding your home of all things pricelessly sentimental. It doesn’t mean getting rid of 90% of your shirts just because an internet challenge told you to do so.
I, personally, believe minimalism is unique to each individual. It’s like that question that people always asked you as a child… “If the house were on fire and you only had time to grab three items, which would you take?” That is the definition of minimalism. Those items, whatever they may be, are the perfect culmination of what you see as the bare necessities.
I used to be really obsessed with this idea of carrying out a minimalistic lifestyle, but packing my little tornado bag made me realize that I was jumping in on a trend that denied me of displaying the truly important pieces of me and my life.
When I have a house of my own, I want it to feel like a home. Not an HGTV magazine cover. Pristine countertops and empty drawers and spacious shelves might be homey to others, but, for me, I find solace in the sentimental things that evoke memories and happiness.