I have never been a minimalist. Everything about me is extra, over-the-top, more than expected, above average, too much. I’m tall. I’m big. I’m loud. I’m an extrovert and a hugger and I love all things sequined and leopard. I’m a lot.
I’m also really, really stressed.
So anytime I can pause for a moment and take in an inspirational or motivational meme, I go for it. The wise words are like a balm to my weary soul, calming me, if just for a moment, putting things into perspective, and challenging me to take a moment and just breathe.
Lately, however, there’s been a trend among the inspirational – the organizational.
Look, I’ve got nothing against famous and adorable organizational gurus.
Their systems work for the people who are drawn to them, and they’ve found ways to turn their side hustles into serious businesses. More power to them. But with the
trend excitement surrounding these minimalism enthusiasts has come an attitude that is nearing arrogance, and my inspiring memes have been replaced with super unhelpful declarations.
If you have fewer things, you’ll have less stress.
The less you have, the less that has you.
When you’re not surrounded by as many things, you’re able to breathe better, feel better, and truly experience peace.
Things like that.
Sure, there’s some merit to not surrounding yourself with clutter, and living in a hoarder’s nest absolutely has to be hard on one’s mental health.
But stop telling me that having less stuff will make me less stressed.
My seasonal décor, while unnecessary, doesn’t make me stressed – my kids do.
My single-use kitchen gadgets don’t make me stressed – my bills do.
My sizable makeup collection doesn’t make me stressed – my father’s degenerative disease does.
My impressive shelves of books, my throw pillows, my DVD box sets of Friends and Dawson’s Creek… they don’t stress me out. Life does.
I’m not a shallow, materialistic person, clinging desperately to my things in an attempt to feel happy in the midst of a shaky world. I’m not ruled by a desire to acquire. I’m a normal person who has things that I like, and I am able to separate my mental health from them.
Getting rid of something I like but don’t need won’t make my kids magically listen to me.
Reducing my closet by half won’t relieve me of the anxiety I’ve struggled with my entire life.
I like the pictures on the walls, the decorations on the shelves, the boxes and boxes of Christmas ornaments.
I like having books and movies on hand that are special to me, even if the internet and libraries are easily accessible.
I like this life I’ve had the privilege of building, and in the midst of chaos and kids and bills and people parking their cars in the pick up line, I like being able to control something – I can control my stuff.
Becoming a minimalist, sure, would give me less to clean. With less stuff there’d obviously be less mess.
But in the big picture, grand scheme, whole experience of life, I devote much less time to stressing over dusting once a week than I do to advocating and caring for my child with special needs. I don’t make my bed every day and it has yet to make me feel like a failure on the scale that parenting a teenager does.
Not once have I been in the midst of a panic attack, trying desperately to catch my breath, and thought, “You know what? If we didn’t have so many dish towels I bet I wouldn’t be in this position.”
Stop telling me that having less stuff will make me less stressed. Stop pretending that life isn’t stressful while blaming stress on the sufferer.
Life isn’t as simple as a quick purge, and there are far more effective ways to combat stress and anxiety than tossing everything into a garage sale.
Let’s admit that the stress we experience isn’t always stress that we invite, and stop feeling the weight of the ornamental in our lives. Let’s see stress as manageable, not disposable. Because if we could throw away stress, I’m pretty sure I’d be a minimalist.