Photo by Philipp Berndt on Unsplash
As popular as Minimalism has gotten these days, there seem to be as many articles singing this lifestyle’s praises as there are complaining about it as a trend. I certainly don’t think that the Minimalist lifestyle is the only way to be happy, but it’s definitely true that many Americans feel the psychological toll of clutter without seeing a clear way to fix it. It’s also been a true lifesaver in our move to a much smaller place.
I know that a common fear (indeed a regular one of mine) is that I’ll end up regretting getting rid of an item long after it’s gone. In fact, I bet there are few things more disheartening with setting out on a more Minimalist path than letting go of something you truly do miss. So many advocates of it will try to paper over that possibility and ignore the sadness you might feel with a “you won’t even remember it in a week” or “I’ve never regretted it and neither will you!”
In light of that, I figured that I’d share a few of the items I miss months after getting rid of them and why I’m not letting that stop me from continuing on in spite of it.
1. Seasonal Items
I’m not going to beat around the bush, this one stings a bit at holidays. I think as a culture that works so much we put a ton of pressure on the holidays, often some of our only vacation time (and that’s if we’re lucky), to be this perfect and magical thing. I can even feel myself getting giddy just thinking about Christmastime as I write this!
In the past I’ve been incredibly guilty of having unreasonably high expectations around these events, and it invariably led to resentment and disappointment. I wanted my house to be a winter wonderland, my tree to be set up and perfect November through January, and wreaths on every surface.
It took a long time to realize I was legitimately ruining Christmas for us every year with these expectations. Not to mention creating a hassle for us to store all these things the rest of the year. Instead, we chose what was important to us for celebrating and ditched the rest.
2. Clothes That Would Have Fit Me Right Now
I’m a woman who considers balance to mean that there will simply be some parts of the year (say, wedding-heavy months in one’s late 20s) where I will be carrying a few extra pounds. At one point I was definitely hovering a bit higher in the measurements than I normally do these days, and I was craving some looser fitting shorts that I knew had been sent off to Goodwill.
If I wanted to plan for every contingency at every size I might be, I’m going to have 7 copies of everything I own. So I slipped on an equally cute dress and was at least thankful that I didn’t have to send off my nice winter coat to live in a storage unit for the privilege of wearing exactly what I wanted at every moment.
Yeah, this one seems like it would be a real problem to incorrectly to get rid of. It really rarely comes up, but once or twice our lives would have been quite a bit easier if we had hung onto a paper version of a bill or something similar.
I certainly can’t give advice on this in any sort of legal capacity (I know that CPAs advise that people hang onto certain types of paperwork for X amount of time), but I have yet to make a mistake that was ever more than a hassle to obtain another copy online.
4. Someone Else’s Stuff
In this case I’m referring to my fiancé’s things. Oh, it’s come up before that I’ve gotten rid of something he considered his. Maybe it was originally mine but he liked it, perhaps it was a jointly used item. If you’re trying to pull a partner along with you into owning less stuff, it can feel especially bad to make this misstep.
All I can say is that he got over it. Mistakes happen. Miscommunication happens. Amazon Prime and 2-day shipping also happens sometimes.
5. Sentimental Items
Oh, this one can be a doozy. Whether it’s a gift from a family member or a memento from a special trip, these are simultaneously the least useful objects you own as well as some of the hardest to get rid of. You know they’re not supposed to serve a concrete function so there’s no metric by which to judge what you should keep.
One thing to do is to make sure you’re not accumulating more of these items as you go. It’s easiest to get rid of them the less time you’re had them often. And then after that embrace the idea that if you continue to regret giving away a sentimental item you’re obviously still carrying that memory with you, no object required.
If you take anything away from this, remember that few decisions in life are perfectly black and white. It’s okay to feel sad and still know that you’re on the right path for you.