Anyone Can Be A Minimalist

Anyone Can Be A Minimalist

Warning: Minimalism may cause mindfulness, escape from consumerism, feelings of inner peace and freedom.
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Almost a year ago, a friend of mine suggested I watch "Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things" on Netflix. I added it to my watch list but left it dormant there for some time until I finally finished binging "The Great British Baking Show". The last thing I expected was for it to change my life but when I started to look around my apartment, I realized the ambush of stuff that was infecting my life was becoming overwhelming.

What is minimalism?

The Minimalists behind the documentary, Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus, define minimalism as “a tool that can assist you in finding freedom.” A freedom from fear, worry, overwhelming, guilt, depression, and consumerist culture. A freedom from the imagined line of success and accomplishment through material means. A real freedom.

It is a lifestyle that leaves the specifics up to the individual. Minimalism runs on a spectrum. The imagery of an empty white apartment with one chair, one cooking pot, and a closet decorated with 3 shirts is one version of it.

Adopting a minimalist mindset doesn’t mean you have to purge every item you own though. It’s a mindfulness of the products we consume and use to create meaning in our lives. If you own 1,000 books, but each one makes you happy, keep your books!

The basic goal of minimalism is to surround yourself with things that genuinely bring you joy and let go of the things that don’t. Isn’t that worth a few hours of eradication and deep soul searching?

The benefits of minimalism:

There are some obvious benefits to downsizing your stuff, like fewer opportunities for your cat to knock it all off tables, but Minimalism goes so much further than that.

1. Minimalism allows you to declutter physically and mentally

Cluttered spaces are linked to anxiety, stress, and physical strain. Excess stimulation creates a wired mental reaction, sending signals to our bodies and creating a sense that our work is never done. Have you ever stress cleaned your entire apartment? It may have taken a few hours, but I’m willing to bet you felt pretty proud afterward. Imagine feeling that all the time.

2. Living our lives for ourselves.

The promotion of mindfulness in our physical commitments can blend into the social. While clearing out your closet, you’re allowed to clear out your schedule. Much like our purchases, we are over-committed to unnecessary social arrangements. If you give yourself more time and space to listen to your head and body, you may find that going to bed early one night is more beneficial than going out. There is a difference between being a flake and reclaiming your time.

3. Consumerism that works for the consumer.

There is a monetary freedom to consider. Without the pressure to purchase the latest and greatest products, hard earned money can be put toward other projects. Think for a minute how many concert or plane tickets you could buy with all the money you’d save not falling into the Target trap once a week. Consumerism doesn’t have to define you if it won’t benefit you.

4. Inner peace and mindfulness.

At this point, minimalism sounds like a hippy revival but stay with me here. The less you have, the more you appreciate what you do surround yourself with. You can start to define yourself by who you are and not what you own. Without the things and commitments to distract you, you are free to be any version of yourself that is the most authentic and beneficial.

Where do you start?

There is no single right way to take this journey. A good rule of thumb is if you haven’t touched it in 6 months, it can go. It’s easier said than done. For the first few weeks, I found myself self-rationalizing each past purchase, mentally creating what-if scenarios in which I would need a tea kettle, coffee pot, and Keurig all at once. Go slow and start small. Like with any new task, practice makes perfect. Ask yourself this simple question each time you pick up something new: Does this serve a purpose in my life?

Try focusing on a single room or area at a time and work your way up to bigger decisions. Take minimizing a closet for example:

Tackling the dreaded closest monster

For me, the biggest project was hands down my feared closet. I had to go back to this project several times to wean myself off the “I may want this one day” habit but each time it got easier to be scrupulous toward my possessions.

I found a basic guide that worked for me and went from there, asking questions of worthiness as I went. It was a mantra I trained myself to adopt with each new article of clothing.

Start by bringing everything out in the open. Yes, everything. Remind yourself what you have. Then try everything on! Make two piles: Donate/Sell and Keep.

Does it fit? If not, Donation pile it is.

Do you still like it? You’re constantly evolving as a person and your style should reflect you! Use this as an opportunity to refine your aesthetic. Some things are classic and holding onto basics like well-fitting jeans, a good button-down, or solid colors will be both cost-effective and always in style. You deserve clothes that make you feel like the queens and kings you are! If something makes you self-conscious or doesn’t feel like you it isn’t worthy of being owned by you. Donate.

Has it been touched in the past year? If you haven’t been drawn to something in 365 days, even on laundry days, there’s a reason for that! Unless it’s a special occasion outfit, someone else will likely get more love out of those garments. Out it goes.

Damaged goods? If the hole in the seam of the armpit has kept you from putting on a shirt for months, despite only needed a few basic stitches, you don’t need it. If it was once white and now, well, isn’t, it doesn’t need you. Donate what you can and recycle the rest in other ways: reusable kitchen rages, glasses cleaners, testing fabric for your newest embroidery project. Don’t throw things away unless it’s a last resort.

Still on the fence? Ask for opinions of your “maybes”. Make a fashion show of it- Sex in the City style! Bring out your inner Carrie. Be critical! And remember, items don’t have feelings, they won’t be hurt if you pass them on. Only the clothing that actually fits and makes you feel good to walk out the door in the morning should be taking up your shelves.

The closet is a pretty solid place to start. And after you get the hang of the process, adapting the questions you use to define usefulness for all products will become commonplace. (Who needs 27 Bath and Body Works lotions?)

It all counts, even if you can't count it all

You don’t have to be able to count all your belongings on one hand. Just becoming conscious of the items we allow in our lives can do wonders. The man gives power to his possessions, the possessions do not give power to the man.

Think of the items in your life in terms of friends. We’re skeptical of the people we let into our lives. We only keep the ones around who brighten our lives for the better. Why should our belongings be any different?

See for yourself where this journey could take you!

Just because something doesn’t have a place in your heart or home anymore, doesn’t mean it won’t for someone else! Donate, sell to secondhand stores, reuse, reduce, recycle, be mindful, and help the environment!
Cover Image Credit: Becca Tapert on Usplash

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I Weigh Over 200 Lbs And You Can Catch Me In A Bikini This Summer

There is no magic number that determines who can wear a bikini and who cannot.
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It is about February every year when I realize that bikini season is approaching. I know a lot of people who feel this way, too. In pursuit of the perfect "summer body," more meals are prepped and more time is spent in the gym. Obviously, making healthier choices is a good thing! But here is a reminder that you do not have to have a flat stomach and abs to rock a bikini.

Since my first semester of college, I've weighed over 200 pounds. Sometimes way more, sometimes only a few pounds more, but I have not seen a weight starting with the number "1" since the beginning of my freshman year of college.

My weight has fluctuated, my health has fluctuated, and unfortunately, my confidence has fluctuated. But no matter what, I haven't allowed myself to give up wearing the things I want to wear to please the eyes of society. And you shouldn't, either.

I weigh over 200lbs in both of these photos. To me, (and probably to you), one photo looks better than the other one. But what remains the same is, regardless, I still chose to wear the bathing suit that made me feel beautiful, and I'm still smiling in both photos. Nobody has the right to tell you what you can and can't wear because of the way you look.

There is no magic number that equates to health. In the second photo (and the cover photo), I still weigh over 200 lbs. But I hit the gym daily, ate all around healthier and noticed differences not only on the scale but in my mood, my heart health, my skin and so many other areas. You are not unhealthy because you weigh over 200 lbs and you are not healthy because you weigh 125. And, you are not confined to certain clothing items because of it, either.

This summer, after gaining quite a bit of weight back during the second semester of my senior year, I look somewhere between those two photos. I am disappointed in myself, but ultimately still love my body and I'm proud of the motivation I have to get to where I want to be while having the confidence to still love myself where I am.

And if you think just because I look a little chubby that I won't be rocking a bikini this summer, you're out of your mind.

If YOU feel confident, and if YOU feel beautiful, don't mind what anybody else says. Rock that bikini and feel amazing doing it.

Cover Image Credit: Sara Petty

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Internet outraged at Delhi Aunty for Sl*t Shaming

Public outrage - justified or an overreaction?

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When the topic of sexual violence against women arises, women are often held responsible - because of how they dress, or how they behave, or even if they have a voice. A recent incident in Delhi showed that the mindset of people has not changed. In a video posted by Shivani Gupta, a middle-aged woman is seen defending her claim, "Women wearing short dresses deserve to be raped."

This backward mentality surrounding rape and rape culture is horrifying to see. The middle-aged woman first shamed them for wearing short clothes and when she was confronted, she told them "they deserved to get raped." She made things worse when she told other men in the restaurant to rape such women who wear short clothes.

Shivani and her friends later confronted this woman while taking the video. They wanted a public apology for her statement and followed her around. The older woman stood by her statement. Fair enough. They felt threatened by her statements and wanted an apology for her actions. The older lady, however, was brazen about her ideologies and refused to apologize. In fact, she threatened to call the cops for harassment.

The woman who made the regressive statements. Shivani Gupta

While the anger and outrage by the women who uploaded this video are justified, several questions are being raised on whether the older woman was later harassed for her statements. Public shaming is not the way to solve this issue.

"We cannot dismantle a culture of shaming by participating in it." - Rega Jha.

Now, I believe that nobody must engage in victim shaming. Nobody has the right to police the outfit one wishes to wear. It is astonishing to believe that even in the 21st century, people still believe that an outfit determines the morality and character of a person. That older woman was wrong to sl*t-shame the girls for wearing what they want. That being said, even though what that woman did was horrible, public shaming will not work. It will not change the mindset behind these ideologies. What that older woman did was akin to bullying. Publicly shaming her, stalking her facebook account or posting comments or by coercing her, you are also behaving in the same manner of bullying.

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