Growing up, I was absolutely not a minimalist – most likely because space was never an issue when I was younger. No, I’ve never lived in a mansion, but apartments are usually quite spacious when you live in a Southern Italian city. I don’t remember ever once thinking about clearing out any of my old clothes or shoes – if they weren’t broken, they would sit there, untouched, for years.
Things changed when I left home for the first time. I moved to Paris as an exchange student, carrying just one big suitcase – sufficient for a six month stay. As my stay grew longer and longer, though, I started bringing more and more with me every time I went back home for a visit. Soon, my library-wall was full of shoes on display. Books sat piled in front of the shelves instead of being neatly stacked on them. Still, it seemed totally normal considering the very limited size of all studio flats in Paris: there, most people make do with 9m².
The concept of ‘stuff’ only really hit me when I moved to London from Paris around three years ago. My boyfriend and I arrived with a few pieces of luggage between us, while the rest of our lives was packed up in France ready to be shipped to our UK home after us. Which meant that, one morning, I was shocked to find a pile of 33 boxes waiting for me in my living room, covering every inch of space available. Opening them, I realised that for the first month we had been living a “stuff-less” life. That I didn’t need any of those things. That I had forgotten I’d even owned most of them. Which, considering the price of the shipping, made me feel pretty stupid.
Marie Kondo was already a thing at that time, but I was late to the party. And so I stumbled into minimalism via a completely different route: a podcast called The Minimalists, hosted by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus. Focused on “living a meaningful life with less stuff”, I became completely hooked after just one listen. In fact, I used to tune into the podcast so religiously that my boyfriend started to think I was being indoctrinated into a cult (I was not). Long story short, charity shops in South London got lucky for a few months. It was an ‘everything-must-go’ kind of cleanse that lasted for more than a year and, to be honest, it was great.
Minimalism is definitely a lifestyle which is growing in popularity, particularly among millennials. The reasons for this vary (at least according to Reddit users) from being too broke to buy anything – let alone a house – to trying to become (and stay) debt-free.
I am not sure how it happened – maybe all those people telling me that minimalism is a cult got to me – but this year my minimalist principles went out of the window. Now, I’m back to square one, with too many unused shoes stuff in my groaning cupboard.