There are quite a few myths about minimalism and I figured it’s time to address some of them.
Minimalism over excess
I embraced minimalism in 2014, learned a lot, and have lived out of a suitcase and backpack ever since. If it wasn’t for minimalism I wouldn’t be living the life that I am living today. Within a month or so I let go of 80% of what I owned and headed to New York City. I’ve since lived in Vienna, Berlin, London and two times in New York City.
Minimalism is what changed it all for me because let’s be real, I wouldn’t have moved to all these places if I’d have a ton of stuff. People do, of course, but that wouldn’t have been for me. Everything that I own fits neatly into a suitcase and backpack and this way of living allows me to say yes, yes to change and opportunities.
I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Sharing is caring
My minimalist journey inspired me to share what I was learning about the world and what’s one of the main reasons I started my YouTube channel back in 2015. I simply wanted to spread the message and YouTube seemed like a great place to do so (and still is in my opinion). Running my YouTube channel has also exposed me to some of the myths about minimalism that seem to prevail in a lot of people’s minds and I figured it’s time to address some of them.
Myths about minimalism
1. Minimalism is about owning ‘X’ number of items
I let go of a lot of the things that I owned back in 2014 because I needed to. There was no way I was going to drag more than one big suitcase and a carry-on around with me. There was just no way. It was a change that I deemed necessary and if it wasn’t for me letting go of so much, I wouldn’t be living the life that I am living today.
That being said, minimalism isn’t about owning a certain number of items. I’ve never counted everything that I own and have no intentions of doing so in the immediate future. I own what I need and value and that’s it. I don’t subscribe to the idea of having to own a certain a number of things, because it doesn’t quite make sense to me.
Also, that number would hugely depend on one’s hobbies and lifestyle. There wouldn’t be a number that’d work for every single person and the concept of owning only a certain number of items, therefore, strikes me as rather impractical. Of course, limiting yourself in this way can be a good thing. Having “X” number of items in your wardrobe might help you with buying clothing you don’t need. It can be a healthy benchmark, but it should never ever be used as a measure of success or competition.
2. Minimalism is about deprivation
Let’s take a brief look at the definition of deprivation. Deprivation is defined as follows:
- “the damaging lack of material benefits considered to be basic necessities in a society.”
- “the lack or denial of something considered to be a necessity.”
Minimalism for me is all about living in alignment with my values and spending my money and time accordingly. Everyone’s definition of minimalism will of course vary. However, deprivation has nothing to do with minimalism. Not having access to the “basic necessities in a society” is not minimalism, that’s poverty. Minimalism entails choice, poverty doesn’t.
I choose to not have a drivers license, I choose to primarily wear black, I choose to live frugally and I choose to be a vegan. These are all conscious choices that I’ve made and that I love. I have never been deprived of the basic necessities and I feel very grateful.
3. You must wear only neutral colors
I primarily wear black not because I embrace minimalism, but because I simply enjoy wearing dark clothing. It’s a personal preference, it’s as simple as that. There are lots of reasons why I choose to wear black and some of them are:
- I have never had a visible stain on a dark t-shirt
- I can wear black and dark gray t-shirts for 3-5 years (possibly longer)
- I can toss it into the washing machine, together with everything else (think towels, linens, etc.)
There’s this notion that minimalism has something to do with needing to wear only neutral colors. Newsflash, it hasn’t. Minimalism has nothing to do with it. It’s a personal preference.
4. There is only one way to be a minimalist
There is this notion that there is only one way to be a minimalist. This is definitely one of the biggest myths about minimalism and, in my opinion, the most harmful. I live the way I do, because I choose to and because it allows me to live the life that I am living.
There are a million ways to embrace minimalism and there’s no right or wrong. There’s no rule book. Minimalism is not an organized religion nor is it a cult. Minimalism is whatever you make it. It’s as simple as that and yet, more often than not, some of us seem to really struggle with that.
So let me repeat it what I just said, there is no right or wrong. There are a million different ways to go about embracing minimalism and it’s not mine nor is it your place to judge.
5. All your stuff must fit into a backpack
I made the conscious decision to fit all my stuff into a suitcase and backpack. I wasn’t even aware of minimalism at the time, I simply did what made sense (and still does), in my life situation. Living out of a suitcase and backpack allows me to live the life that I am living.
That’s not to say that it’s like that for everyone. Minimalism comes in many different forms and it’s not, and never was, about fitting all your stuff into a backpack. Minimalism is not a competition. If it was I certainly wouldn’t be raving about this wonderful movement.
Whether you stuff fits into a bunch of boxes, a suitcase or just a backpack doesn’t really matter. What matters is that you have what you need and what adds value and that’s all just surface level. What truly matters is that you are living your life in alignment with your values. Whatever that looks like to you.
All these myths suck!
These were some of the biggest myths about minimalism that I’ve personally come across. I’ve received comments about every single one of these myths. I think it’s important to remind ourselves that minimalism is a tool and it is what you make it.