Minimalism is a concept, not a competition. I think it can be easy to be discouraged when on the journey to becoming a minimalist or getting caught up in trying to be the perfect minimalist. The problem with this is there is no such thing as a perfect minimalist. There are no standards or rules that need to be followed in minimalism except for the ones you make for yourself.
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Have you ever asked yourself, someone else, or google a question that starts with “Can I be a minimalist if…” and ends with things like:
“I have kids”
“I love clothes”
“I collect knick-knacks”
“I play video games” (this one’s mine)
“Everything I own is pink” (this one’s especially mine)
The answer to all of these questions and anything else like it is yes. Absolutely 100% yes, you can be a minimalist. Everyone can be a minimalist and this is the point of me writing this. There are no rules in minimalism; there’s no item quota which needs to be met every year for your official minimalism license and you can’t get thrown out of the minimalism country club if you buy a souvenir key-chain while you’re on vacation.
The most important thing in becoming a minimalist is that it is your own journey. What one person considers minimalism, you might not, and vise versa. A lot of the time when someone thinks of the minimalist lifestyle they think this only means people who live out of a backpack but this couldn’t be farther from the truth; anyone can be a minimalist and for that reason there are all kinds of minimalists including varying degrees of extremism. We all come from different parts of the world, different social classes, live in different sizes and kinds of homes. Some of us have family or pets we share our lifestyle with. With such a diverse group of people who are in the minimalist community there are no rules, and ultimately no such thing as the ideal minimalist, and we can’t judge anyone based on criteria which does not exist.
The whole point or “rule” of minimalism is to live more simply only with items which serve you in some way or bring you joy. To be thoughtful about what items come into your home and about which ones leave. Being more mindful about what you do keep, making sure they’re all items that you love or need. A quote from Marie Kondo from The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, “Does this item bring me joy?”, sums up the whole idea of minimalism in six words. If the answer is no, and it doesn’t serve a purpose, then why do you have it? That’s all minimalism is about. When more attention is put towards things that bring you joy, your life will get better instantaneously.
So.. how can I be a minimalist if I feel like I can’t?
The trick with this is the fact that you feel like you can’t. This doesn’t mean that you can’t. The first thing to do if you feel like you can’t be a minimalist is ask yourself why you feel like that. Is it because you think, even if you’ve scaled down, that you still have too much? Maybe it’s because you can’t commit to throwing away sentimental items, or to downsizing your kids’ toy collection. Whatever the reason is, it’s not a good one, and is just holding you back from becoming your greatest self. If you feel like you can’t be a minimalist you just need to get this thought out of your head, out of your routine, and do everything you want to do with the minimalist concept in mind. Whether or not you’re a minimalist is all up to you and how you think and as a result, it is entirely up to you whether or not you are or can be a minimalist.