Minimalism, or Getting Comfy with Less

Tomorrow I start a “minimalist” wardrobe challenge (chose from 10 pieces of clothing/shoes for 10 days), receive Cait Flanders’ book The Year of Less and start packing for my move to Pensacola.

I’m not exactly converted to the minimalist aesthetic or even the lifestyle (we’ll save the discussion of the inherent privilege in the concept for another day), but the idea of shedding some of the physical baggage and clutter from my life seems absolutely crucial to the bigger challenge of reigning in and refocusing my life on what actually matters to me as a 26 year old woman.

When I moved out of my last house, I got rid of a lot of clothes. We’re talking about 50% of what I owned, like at least 6 trash bags full of stuff.

I already talked about my clothing hang-ups (get it? Hang ups, closets? Heh.) this when I talked about opting out of fashion and make-up, but this combination of the wardrobe challenge, Cait’s book and packing feels significant to the point of being spiritual.

Let me go ahead and say that I’ve not read Cait’s book yet and, like I do with movies, tried to keep my sneak peeks to a minimum so I can fully enjoy them without too much pressure built up on the experience.

I have, however, been a fan and follower of Cait’s for a few years now and her journey has always been very reassuring to me while I struggle with my own financial issues and examine the things in my life that are working against my actual goals and dreams.

Just the idea of trying a “year of less” for myself would have set my eyes to rolling a few month ago. The idea of giving up my brunches, my craft beer, my well-curated vintage shops, my eyeliner–any of it–to be more nimble and thrifty seemed like a punishment I did not deserve.

I’ve worked hard for my lifestyle! I want to support local small businesses! What will I post on Instagram!

I’d really convinced myself that the house, the outfits, the habitual dining and drinking habits were my reward for ever sitting down to my desk to work. It was retribution for the 2+ years I spent crying in an office, doing a job I never really liked.

Even moving to this cabin, the idyllic writer’s retreat in the woods, was supposed to be the dream.

It was all evidence that I, Stephanie Sharp, am a successful, independent woman.

Only, as it turns out, none of that stuff actually matters much to me anymore. At least, not as much as it used to.

Less makes room for more

The concept seems simple and I’ve seen enough versions of it on the internet to choke myself on, but the reality is that until you figure out what you actually want more of–it’s really tough to give up what you do have.

For me, the less time I spend doing laundry, picking out clothes in the morning, doing my make up is more time I can spend working and writing and maybe taking a wild stab at exercise or art again.

The less I try to squeeze my 26 year old body into clothes purchased for my 21 year old body, the more I confident I can feel in the clothes that fit me.

The less bills I pay, the less chores I have to do, the less I have to worry about making ends meet, means more freedom. More security. More stability.

As much as it might sting to admit it, the less time I spend hanging out in bars in Tallahassee means I will get more peace and distance from my past.

It’s all gotta go.

Accepting the “more”

It’s easy to cling to the places we’ve gotten stuck in and the goals we’ve been working towards, but haven’t quite reached yet.

If you’ve put years into a relationship, a business, a lifestyle, a career, walking away from all of that work can feel like a failure. You worry that people will feel abandoned, that they’ll judge you, think you’re weak or selfish.

It’s really hard to externalize and articulate when something that’s been a part of your life for a long time, or even your entire current lifestyle, is causing you more pain or suffering than it’s worth to you anymore.

We get to decide that it’s time for something different and wanting it is all the reason you need for making a change.

And because time is a flat circle, there’s a good chance that you’ll end up on the other side of this door years down the line, wanting to swap the less for the more or vice versa. It’s all a cycle. That’s okay.

The biggest surprise in accepting that I was ready for a change, ready for “less,” has been that it’s the only way I can get along with being more of the woman I want to be in this world.

Tomorrow I’m going to a share bit more about my decision to downsize and move back to Pensacola for the spring, hopefully with the goal of demystifying the entrepreneurial stereotypes–both negative and positive–that could easily be stamped on this transition.