When does a healthy appreciation for beautiful things turn in to a problem or even an illness?
I've tried being a minimalist twice in my life. Both times it was a back swing of the pendulum coming back from having too much clutter. Minimalism never stuck, though. That's okay, because the new belongings were much more in-tune with the new phase of my life. In fact, purging helped me change for the better. I changed my style and how I wanted to express myself.
To help my readers gauge their own collections and clutter, I thought I would elaborate on the different personalities of stuff-keeping. As a bonus, I've included pinterest boards for inspiration!
Minimalism is gaining popularity. Think of all the new tiny house shows on HGTV. Minimalism blogs and youtube channels are popping up quite frequently. People are praising it for getting them out of debt. They can downsize and have fewer expenses and save time when it comes to caring for their belongings.
Minimalism can take several forms such as owning a certain number of clothing garments, getting rid of a car, or even living a nomadic lifestyle without a home. It also stretches in to areas such as finances, entertainment, diet, and fashion.
While this lifestyle might be desirable for a short while, eventually most people want to put down roots. Most adults wish to enjoy a home base with comfortable furniture and cool decorations where they can have friends and family over They also want the right supplies to make their guests comfortable.
Personally I found minimalism to be extremely satisfying, but I couldn't do it forever - kind of like veganism. I felt lighter, more focused, and created more flow in my house and in my mind. It was a great shift in to my next form of expression. I started a new painting series about letting go. I made way more room in my house and low and behold my boyfriend decided he was ready to co-habitate. So, you could say by letting go of the past I made room for the future.
While minimalism has many benefits, the downside is that people can get carried away and regret discarding things down the line. I wound up buying some of the same things over again that I had gotten rid of. Not to mention missing a few heirlooms that I can never get back. Also, a weird side affect is that being a minimalist can make other people very uncomfortable and even agitated. I think to them it means that you think they are doing life wrong. I dunno, but this topic really pisses some people off. It's a thing.
A collector is a person who acquires certain things as a hobby. Collections take time, space, and money. Most people do it for the love of it, rather than to make money on it. Collections, unless they are very rare and/or popular, usually won't appreciate much monetarily. Some collectors, however, cross the bridge in to dealing in antiques and collectables, which can be lucrative if you know what to look for and can find the right buyers.
It's important that if you are collecting because you are currently passionate about those things, not because you started 15 years ago and you're just mindlessly still collecting the same old stuff. Good collections should also be curated, i.e. selectively assembled according to good taste, provenance, and quality. Remember quality over quantity! Once you’re over it, move on to another type of collection. For instance, I used to collect teddy bears when I was five, but now I’m on to other more grown-up collections.
Collections should be cared for, as well. We'll talk about clutter and hoarding next, but collections should be caringly displayed or stored with proper cleaning, ventilation, and in some cases with archival materials.
If your stuff is causing you more distress than joy, you might have a clutter situation rather than a nice collection.
Clutter is "to fill or cover with scattered or disordered things that impede movement or reduce effectiveness" - Webster’s Dictionary. I would assume that most of us have a little bit of clutter.
In my opinion clutter is a societal problem.
Clutter is a very common problem for the average American. We are taught that things will make you happy and the more you have the better. The availability of cheaply made items and the media convincing us to shop, shop, shop leads many people to wind up with junk that they don't really love or need. We're so busy and distracted that maintaining our belongings gives us debilitating anxiety.
If you fall in to this group it's a good idea to have a hard look at how much your stuff is getting in the way of your happiness. Are you constantly bumping in to extra stuff, frustrated by how long you have to look for things, feeling guilty for the length of your to-do list that you never complete, putting off craft projects even though you have all the supplies, and just plain feel like things are starting to close in around you? Chances are you have way too much stuff than A. fits in your house comfortably, and B. you really need. Time to chuck the junk!
The following is an excerpt from The Mayo Clinic:
"Hoarding disorder is a persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them. A person with hoarding disorder experiences distress at the thought of getting rid of the items. Excessive accumulation of items, regardless of actual value, occurs."
Folks who are hoarders seem to be so attached to belongings just as if they were actual memories and people. The thought of taking things away, even though they seem useless, causes fear and even grief.
Hoarders also seem to shut themselves off from society. They are afraid that people will see that their mess and they don't let anyone in. Their living space often becomes unsanitary and unsafe.
Genetics, brain chemistry and stressful life events are believed to cause hoarding. It's important for those who have this disorder to seek therapy, conventional or otherwise.
Where do you stand?
I teeter over collector. Sometimes I sway towards clutter bug and then back to minimalist before landing on collector again. For folks like me it's important to do routine purges. I keep a donation box by the front door and in my closet so that I can easily discard things that have no value to me.
Remember that even though you spent money on something that if you don't use it you are just continuing to waste. You're actually spending money by renting the space to store it, even if you have a mortgage. It's like paying double for nothing. You can have garage sales and online sales are an option for getting your money back, as I have done notoriously every year. Be realistic about the time and effort it takes to sell things. The thing is you actually have to have the sale, not just say you're eventually going to sell your stuff. It might save you time and stress to simply donate your stuff.
Also, we are a part of a vast community of connections and energy. By parting with stagnant items you are freeing yourself up to new energy. Someone else can use your old things and possibly create something amazing with it, directly or indirectly. On and on the cycle goes. By keeping useless things we're just gumming up the system.
Thanks for reading! If you have any questions about decluttering or styling your loot, shoot me an email. If you are a collector, be sure and swing by my vintage shop online and see if anything lights your fire.
Follow your heart and express yourself because life is too short to for boring surroundings!
Thank you so much and I'll see you next time!