The trend magazines have spoken: Minimalism is dead, long live Maximalism! But should we be ditching one for the other? As a self-proclaimed Maximalist, there are plenty of reasons for me to try Minimalism this year.
What Are Minimalism and Maximalism?
Minimalism is a social movement that encourages having (and buying) less stuff. It’s about streamlining your life tightly so that you can have less stuff and less clutter. Most of the time it’s applied to home décor (think IKEA), but it’s also applied to shopping habits, wardrobes, and stuff in general.
Maximalism is pretty much the exact opposite philosophy. Where Minimalism shuns stuff, Maximalism embraces it. As far as personal taste goes, I’m on the Maximalist side. I like having lots of things on my wall, strange knickknacks, and tons of fun jewelry options.
Finding a Happy Medium
Like most things in life, having too much of one thing is a bad thing. If you’re too much of a Minimalist, then you’ll agonize over everything you buy or receive as a gift. If you’re too far on the Maximalist scale, you’ll have stuff just to have stuff, and that’s a disaster all on its own.
My goal is to take my Maximalist tendencies and taper them with Minimalism because there should be a happy middle ground somewhere.
Why Am I Going Minimalist?
There are a few key concepts behind Minimalism that will help me in my life. The first problem I have is that I’m a shop-a-holic with too much stuff. While I was living in Turkey, I was a Minimalist by necessity. If it wasn’t easy to move or stick in a suitcase, then having that stuff was a problem. I also didn’t have the same access to shops I love that I do in the United States.
Once I moved back to the States and had a steady income, I felt compelled to Buy, Buy, Buy. A lot of this was because I was having a crisis of identity, and on a primal level, I felt the best way to figure this out was by buying stuff. It got so bad that if I didn’t like the stuff in my closet, I would pop down to Old Navy, find something, and then change in the car. Yikes.
Since moving to West Virginia, I’ve tried to cut back on my spending and get back to my old Minimalist habits.
Minimalism is Practical
One of the dreams my husband and I share is to live overseas, and travel often. I know from experience how hard it is up and go anywhere when you have a ton of stuff that needs to fit in your suitcase. Besides, while we love our apartment now, we’re not going to want to stay here forever. I want to have enough stuff to enjoy my home, but not so much that moving is going to be any more of a nightmare than it already is.
Minimalism is Ethical
Not only is the Minimalist mentality of “less stuff” practical for organization and long-term goals, it’s also good for the environment. American is a consumer nation, but unfortunately, we don’t often question where our stuff comes from. I’ve been doing some research on Fast Fashion, for example, and the effects our cheap consumerism has on a global scale. If you want to, you can watch this John Oliver segment on Fast Fashion to get a small idea of what kind of impact our shopping choices have around the world.
While Minimalism won’t solve the world’s problems, combining it with an awareness of our shopping habits can make a difference.
What Does Minimalism Look Like for Me, A Maximalist?
As I’ve already said, I’m more of a Maximalist than a Minimalist. I like looking at odd knickknacks and busy patterns, I love to surround myself with the strange and wonderful things I’ve picked up during my lifetime.
But while I’m not ready to give up all of my things, I know that there are some areas of my life that could be streamlined. For example, I know I feel better when I have a “minimalist capsule wardrobe.” It’s relaxing to not reinvent the fashion wheel every time I go to work.
More importantly, if I get too attached to my things, there’s a danger that I’ll start hanging my identity on them. That friend is idolatry, and it’s a no-no in the Bible. For me, practicing Minimalism is less about living in an IKEA showroom. It’s about making stuff secondary to the important things in life.
What Do I Hope to Get Out of This?
First and foremost, LESS STUFF. The more stuff I have, the more overwhelming it is to worry about.
I’d also like to use it as an opportunity to build better spending habits. I’ve had a few friends over the years that have recommended asking God for EVERYTHING, including the things I want to buy. Instead of spending money on the thing RIGHT NOW when I don’t have room for it, or it’s not exactly what I want, I’m trying to get into the habit of asking God for it. If it’s truly meant to be, great! I’ll know it came from God. More often though, He’s used this as a way to teach me that all that stuff? It’s not as important as I think it is.
Lastly, I’m hoping that I’ll have more peace with the things I have. Instead of putting my entire focus on possessions, I want to put it on God and the experiences I have in life. If I can clean out the extra trinkets, keep the meaningful things, and exercise some thoughtful minimalist practices, then it’ll be easier for me to focus the important things.
What About You?
Are you a minimalist? A maximalist? Somewhere in between? Are you ready to purge some of your extra things and start “having” in a purposeful way? Let me know in the comments below!