It officially started on November 5, 2011. An email from Samantha read, “minimalism, thought of you,” and linked to “Declutter your Fantasy Self” by Miss Minimalist. I had commented to Samantha a few times that I felt cluttered, overwhelmed and crowded by the amount of stuff in my life. I felt stuck. Because aren’t we supposed to want stuff? Isn’t that why shopping is a social activity, and holidays include presents? Isn’t that the point of getting high-paying jobs, so that we can buy bigger houses and more shoes?
Gradually, I began feeling restless and wrong about all my stuff. For one young, single person it seemed outrageous that I owned boxes and boxes of things: papers, clothes, jewelry, pictures, books, mementos, purses, shoes, etc.
“Declutter Your Fantasy Self” the post commands. As I read example fantasy-selves from Miss Minimalist, I realized that much of my stuff was tied to fantasies of future-Eva and memories of past-Eva. Present-Eva didn’t need most of that junk.
- Notes from World History in high school: fantasy me will reread and reference those notes and wow admirers with my intimate knowledge of ancient Chinese dynasties. Real me uses Wikipedia.
- Turquoise wedges with bow: fantasy me will wear them with cute skirts and slacks and look and feel marvelous. Real me never wears them because they’re uncomfortable and slip off when she walks.
You may be wondering: “but what if someday I DO become/want to/need to [fill in the blank] and then I don’t have the right stuff anymore!?”
Miss Minimalist points out that, “Ironically enough, decluttering my fantasy self gave me the freedom and resources to turn my dreams into reality.” She goes on to say that “Whatever the case, it’s important to remember: acquiring stuff for your fantasy self doesn’t make it a reality. Most of the time, it only leads to a lot of “nice” clutter you never actually use.”
Stuff is cumbersome. It’s hard to pack it and hard to move it. It takes time, energy, and money to maintain it and care for it. It often breaks and creates waste. It’s not all bad, of course, but for me it became clear that the stuff under my bed wasn’t making me feel good.
It can be hard to make the shift. Downsizing, minimizing, decluttering requires combatting years of habits and cultural messages that support consumption, consumption consumption. It takes a while. For me, It Is Worth It.
What about you? What fantasy selves urge you to keep stuff in your basement?
Thanks for reading!