Why Minimalism Doesn’t Work for Me
More is more.
I’m really tired of buying a whole bunch of crisp white things. White linens, white curtains, artisanal white bowls to hold sleek gold jewelry. Minimalism, when I tried it, was absolutely tiring. It took a lot of dedication to seem so effortless and clean. It was impossible to make it look like my possessions all matched, that all the wood in my room was bleached birch, and that every blanket made to look unmade on my bed was woven by my Swedish grandmother.
To keep up with the Joneses, I was choosing a blank slate over the colors, patterns, and textures I was naturally drawn to. To fit the cool, perceived easiness of the minimalist woman. I got rid of my clothes, my things, even some of the art I was creating. Minimalism started to make me feel like I was losing all sense of who I was—not just in my space, but in the creative choices I made in all aspects of my life.
The weight of it all hit me when I was packing up my things to move. I contemplated getting rid of the antique bookends my good friend had purchased for me as a gift. I was struck with a flood of emotion—was I actually contemplating getting rid of something that had such high sentimental value? And if that felt unsettling, who was I really doing this for? I looked around my room at all the packed things. Everything was the same color, everything matched. It didn't seem breezy or easy to me anymore. It seemed impersonal.
Although minimalism wasn’t for me, it pushed me to take a look at what I valued about my individuality. I was finally able to fully accept my quirky, mismatched, all-over-the-place self. Minimalism had merely been a way to push my natural inclinations aside.
Once I let go of the idea of fitting in with a crowd, I was able to really assess what I needed in my life and in my space. What told my story? It didn’t have to spark joy for me, but it did have to make me feel something. If the comforter I was about to buy didn’t match my sheets, it didn’t stop me from buying the comforter. If the desk was a lighter wood than my dresser, I didn’t take it out of my cart. These additions didn’t take away from the space; they added the extra character that I started to see as an extension of myself. It’s not messy or out of place—it’s me.
I like big things, gold things, weird things I find in thrift stores. The knick-knacks that line the shelves of my room tell a story of who I am, where I’ve been, and what I find interesting. My once-white space is now completely filled with items inspired by baroque art, citrus fruits, and denim. (Far too much denim.) And it’s a lot, but it feels like me this time.