Phew. I feel better. I spent two days clearing out every item of clothing, every piece of jewelry and every duffel bag, purse and wallet in between. I ended up with three garbage bags full of stuff I either don’t love, don’t use/wear, or just don’t need. I am thankful to have friends who allowed me to have a mini fashion show and who asked me the important questions about each item I put on: “What do you like about it? What do you not like about it? Do you like how you look in it? Do you wear it?” When I didn’t have a friend around to help me judge, I wrote out a little list on a whiteboard I keep in my room to keep me on track with my purging, with a few of those same questions. I also added in, “Is it a high quality piece? Does it fit me anymore? I wrote a reminder of my goal of having a truck camper at the bottom of the board, so pieces I found myself truly torn over I would ask myself, “Okay, this sweater or the truck camper?” The truck camper won every time. My 2-closets-worth-of-clothes-into-1 goal worked. I am so excited, relaxed and pleased when I look into my newly organized closet.
Now, I’m not a miracle worker. I’m never going to be able to be one of those true minimalist women who can get by with 1 t-shirt, 1 tank top, 1 pair of jeans, 1 dress and 2 pairs of shoes. My scale down is huge for me and having that mentality is the best way not to set myself up for failure. If I allow myself to be caught up in the trap of comparison, I’ll fail from the start because I will only think, “why bother?” This is about bettering myself and improving my quality of my own life. I can be inspired by those women, but I don’t feel the need to compete with them on the (made-up) minimalist scale.
A lot of minimalist gurus say that we are so connected to items we have because we invested money into them, therefore we are more likely to hold onto things we don’t really like, because we are made so aware of the financial waste (ahem, disposable income). Coming face to face with the reality of that is pivotal for me, because thrift shopping is one of my favorite hobbies. (Which is proven by the fact that TWO of my friends texted me during this giant purge asking if I wanted to go with them to the thrift store). I used to buy a cute top for $1, because it was cute and it was one dollar. I never needed the top, and I didn’t love it, but WHAT A GREAT DEAL! I was finding myself feeling guilty every time I would see that top because I knew deep down I would never reach for it. I finally learned to get serious with myself and raise my standards on the clothes I brought home with me during a shopping spree. They had to fit wonderfully and I had to be downright giddy about getting it (bonus points if it was something I had been looking for for years!) before I trade my hard-earned money for it.
Which brings me to my next point: the actual getting rid of the items. I have a few girl friends in town that are similar sizes to me, so I usually will try and organize a clothes swap (SO MUCH FUN!), or I will just let them dive through my bags to see if they want anything. I will also take the higher-end or name brand pieces and either sell them on local garage sale groups, or I will send them in to websites like ThredUp, which is a great option when you can’t have a garage sale yourself. The remaining items go to local thrift stores. I know I could sell each item, but to me it’s not worth the frustration and hassle, and I feel greedy trying to get the money that I spent back. I also see it as paying it forward, on a very small scale. When I let go of a piece of clothing, I think of the next person to get it. Maybe it will make them smile, maybe they’ve been looking for something similar for a while, or maybe they’ve just hit a rough patch in life and this item makes them feel truly beautiful for the first time in too long, and maybe they just can’t afford “regular” stores. They want the items more than me, and I know for a fact others need them more than me. When I let go of my greedy selfishness, I feel so much happier as a person and I feel my focus shifting from material items to people, experiences and life itself.
Maybe you won’t change your spending habits, and maybe you won’t let go of a single item. THAT’S OKAY! I didn’t write this to force a change on anyone else but me. But I do hope you reflect on two ideas: do you love (or need) every single item you own? and do you ever feel overwhelmed by your stuff? If even one of those answers makes you uncomfortable, please give it a try. I promise you’ll feel better, even if you just get rid of one thing.