I was watching a video yesterday from one of my favorite minimalist YouTubers when he said that he got quite a few comments stating that he wasn’t a “real minimalist”. The assertions are based on him actually owning things, having a house filled with color, and… well, frankly, him living life.
Ugh. What the heck is wrong with people?
I suppose if I were to base my minimalism on those types of comments, then I too would not be a minimalist. After all, I have books on the bookshelf, furniture in my living room, pictures on the walls, bursts of color here and there…
But who gets to decide whether or not I’m a minimalist?
Is it really some random stranger’s categorization of me that make me what I am?
I should think not!
What is a minimalist?
I’ve watched a lot of videos, listened to a lot of podcasts, and read a lot of blogs and books on the subject of minimalism. One thing that became incredibly clear to me quite early on in this journey is that minimalism is different for everyone. It is a unique lifestyle based on unique lives.
Yes, there are people out there who aspire to be the type of minimalists who only own a certain number of possessions. In my reading, I’ve found that the number is usually 100 items or so.
And there are other people who choose the minimalist lifestyle of living from only what can fit inside a backpack. They tend to travel a lot and don’t really have a settled home base.
There are some minimalists who live in tiny houses, use compost toilets, garden for the majority of their food, live off solar energy, and never drive cars.
There are minimalists who are vegans.
There are minimalists who are zero waste.
There are minimalists who live in and drive around in vans.
There are minimalists who base everything they do on the KonMari method.
There are minimalists with large families, and some with small families.
Some live in large houses… yes, it’s true!
And still others live in modest-sized homes with very little furniture, blank walls, one plate, one fork, one bowl… you get the picture.
And then there are minimalists like me.
Me… I’m a minimalist. And someone’s opinion of whether or not that is a true statement really doesn’t matter. I know what I am compared to what I used to be. I used to be a mass consumer. I bought stuff just to buy stuff, filled up a house with things I didn’t want or need, and never really gave a thought to the impact it was having on anything. But times changed, I changed, and I became what I now call a minimalist.
I live in a fairly small house by American standards. It is 1350 square feet with three bedrooms, and two bathrooms, and a modest kitchen. Because I have kids, my house is very much lived in. While my kids don’t have a ton of toys, they do have them. And while I did declutter a very large amount of books, the fact is that we homeschool and books are still very much found in our home.
I have pictures on my walls. Not a ton, but some… and I love them.
I have dinnerware for eight people even though there are only four of us. And if I’m being totally real, I also have a set of fine China that was handed down to me. When I got it, it served twenty. I decluttered it down to a service of eight – plenty should I ever throw a fancy dinner or suddenly have the Queen over for tea (hey, I can dream).
We have a television and we use it. I have throw pillows on my couch, and my curtains are bright and cheerful. In fact, in the living room they are red!
Yes, I have that classic white cabinet look in my kitchen, but I also have a coffee maker and toaster still sitting right out on the counter… and I’m not a vegan.
My walls are painted a very light grey with a hint of blue… I suppose that’s stereotypically minimalist, but the lime green curtain in my dining area isn’t.
Opinions are like noses…
I guess what I’m trying to say with all of this is that opinions are like noses… everyone has them. But in the end, it’s just an opinion. My minimalist life will never look anything like that of a single person, a person in a big city, a person in a different country, a person who travels a lot, another family that doesn’t homeschool, or anyone else.
My minimalism is unique because I am unique.
My house reflects the very unique journey I am on as well as the unique journeys of everyone else who lives here. People may look in and think because it’s not blank and sterile that it isn’t minimalist, but that would be wrong because blank and sterile would never be a life I would intentionally live. It would not bring me happiness. It would not inspire me to do more of what matters. Blank and sterile would kill minimalism for me, so I opt for lived in, loved, and realistic.
And yes, I’m a minimalist. So is that YouTuber I mentioned.