10 lessons learned from my first month as a minimalist.

Hello. It’s been a minute, and by a minute, I mean a month.

If anyone is curious as to how my monthly challenges are going, and more specifically, my Sober March is going, please refer to photo below:


If you didn’t put A and B together yet, C = “Sober March has been put on hold.” In fact, I’m nursing a whiskey diet right now. There, there, my precious writing fuel.

February has been a whirlwind. I can say with confidence that I started my first week of minimization in February strong. The smaller, achievable goals I set in my first minimalism post were incredibly achievable and encouraged me to go above and beyond, but then my plans derailed from there.

I minimized the shit out of my closet, and yet it’s still full of clothes I find reasons not to wear.

I need to revisit the whole ~capsule wardrobe~ idea at least 4 more times. As much as I’d like to argue that things have changed for the better, the bed in my spare room is still filled with piles of clean clothing that I have no issue sifting through, but can’t possibly find the 20 minutes to put them away. At this point, the entire spare bedroom is now filled with clothes, boxes and piles of things I’ve determined I’m no longer in need of but have not found their new homes.

I want to make sure that I don’t discount my goal for February. The act of minimizing has been a welcomed, refreshing and empowering change. With that said, everything that has come along with it has subsequently been a significant challenge.

I’ve already made one trip to donate 7 bags of clothes and accessories I no longer need, and yet there is so much more stuff mocking me with its presence that I haven’t gotten around to. I keep looking at all of the overpriced books I was required to purchase in college and have truly gone through it with them. Do they stay or do they go? For 98% of the last month, they were a definite go. But today, I looked at them again and they looked at me and somehow managed to convince me they belong on my shelf collecting dust for a bit longer before I get fed up with them again and finally cut the BFA umbilical cord once and for all. Soon.

My mom used to quote John Lennon; “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”

In this case, accurate. My seemingly lofty plans have taken a back-burner to the surprises that life has had to offer lately. I’m not mad. I’m actually really grateful for the changes and opportunities I’ve encountered. With that, I also have had to spend a lot of time forgiving myself for letting the other plans I was busy making fall through. I’ve had to cut myself some slack on the deadlines I gave me. This is a difficult thing for me to do as someone that has a perfectionistic outlook on all endeavors.


My therapist keeps telling me that it’s not about how many things you have on your plate, but how you manage them. Balance is not always my strong suit and neither is being forgiving of myself. Together, we wrote this mantra for me to repeat when I’m forgetting to be nice to me: accept support, embrace the unknown and trust yourself.

As I saunter my way into an unexpected Month 2 of Minimization, I share with you the 10 things I’ve learned during Month 1:

  1. It gets worse before it gets better. You know how they say that you have to gain weight before you lose it? It’s the same…? Kind of. Let’s just say, shits gonna get messy and before it gets organized.img_4408
  2. Your conscience will lie to you about what you need. Your conscience is emotional and it’s attached. It will tie memories to anything you touch so that it’s significantly harder to part with. Challenge it. Be reasonable with the questions you ask yourself. The three most important questions are:
    1. Does this item add value to my life?
    2. Do I have anything like this that serves the same purpose?
    3. When is the last time I used this?
  3. Once you’ve determined it’s time to part, you’ll be annoyed of its presence. The pile of GARBAGE — and by garbage, I mean shit, but also garbage — sitting in my spare room currently is the physical manifestation of my anxiety. It’s unmanaged, ugly and hard to understand what’s even going on. I’m so annoyed that I ever even had this junk in the first place and am ready for it to be gone. Living in the city without a car is an added challenge. I’d like to set up a pick-up with one of the many charities that offer the feature, but I’m stuck in purgatory of stuff and things.

    Everything pictured is being donated.
  4. You’ll begin to desire replacing the items you love with higher quality, trusty versions of the things you know and love. One step in this direction that I took was replacing my mismatched, plastic hangers in my closet with 50 matching black velvet hangers. The issue now is finding the perfect 50 items to keep in the closet. Now I’m forced into a prettier version of accountability in the closet department. 49 hangers are in use currently and I have 3 loads of unsorted laundry sitting on my bed. Maybe I just need to buy more hangers… okay, self, but it’s about quality not quantity. I am admittedly a work in progress. Todd also wanted me to announce that he replaced the coffee pot. At first, I was a little disappointed because the old coffee pot worked perfectly fine in my opinion, but now, our coffee doesn’t taste like acid. He wins.
  5. You have a lot of stuff. Why have I kept every single eye shadow, hair product sample and make up brush that’s ever crossed my path? Why must I hold onto touristy mugs I never use and the veggie spiralizer I used once 2 years ago? Why does Lily tote around 14 different toy carcasses? The answer is who cares get rid of it. Even after making a huge pile of get rid of’s, I still have too much stuff. When in doubt, refer to the questions from lesson #2.
  6. You’ll still have nothing to wear. I removed 70% of my closet and the pieces I img_4330never wore and yet, with a more cultivated closet, I still can’t find shit to wear each morning. I’ve begun a new mission into filling the blanks in the perfect capsule wardrobe. I just used to word perfect to describe it which means I’m starting ahead of myself. Keep it simple. For the love of dog, keep it simple.
  7. It will take longer than you anticipate. I had this beautiful idea in my mind that by March, my life would be simple and so would all of the items in my wardrobe and the rest of my apartment. I’d be Pinterest perfect and people on Instagram would want to know me. I’d be the next @lifeinjeneral and everyone would be like, “Wow, @christineinchicago, you know how to contain and organize like it’s your job….. is it your job? Can I hire you and pay you to organize my life?” I can tell you with confidence that not a single person has thought that, but my expectations started there. Keep your expectations low. It’s a foolproof way to surprise and impress yourself when you exceed them. 
  8. Celebrate the small wins. img_4460 I found a cute mug I received from someone from Christmas a few years ago while I was decluttering my kitchen. It had a C on it and I was impressed by the gift giving skills and how delicate I had chosen to be with it. Instead of parting with the cute mug I forgot I had, I decided to repurpose it and put the jewelry I should be wearing on display. My jewelry is by no means organized yet, but this was a small win in the organizing, repurposing and making my stuff aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Half the battle if you ask me.
  9. Organization = peace of mind. Taking everything out of its place and giving it a newer, prettier home that’s pleasing to the eye is like a big hug from Santa Claus on a snow day. Don’t believe in Santa? Too bad. If you start organizing, he’s going to come and hug you and there’s nothing you can do about it because you’re gonna feel warm and fuzzy. Truly, I can’t think of anything quite as satisfying as seeing immediate results from hard work. That’s why people don’t like weight loss and dieting. It takes too long to see the results. Granted, they’re worth it in the end, but organization? You’re in control of those results and will start seeing them immediately. You control your future and it looks so good when it’s organized.
  10. I might be taking longer to minimize to delay the month of sobriety. This could be a convenient excuse. I can’t decide. What I do know is that I get more sentimental about my possessions when I’ve had a few and then spend time sitting there, reminiscing on the memories. Pictures, text messages, laughs, tears. The whole shebang. Then I quietly put this item that adds no value to my life back where I found it to be annoyed of at a later, less tipsy date. Oh no, there could be a direct correlation between these two… I refuse to accept that. I may have been stretching for a 10th thing I learned.

I’ve learned a lot in the last month, and still have a lot more to learn. I didn’t realize how conscious I’d have to be to do this, which really should be what lesson #10 is. I suppose it is in so many words.

I knew my monthly goals were going to thwart at some point and I’m okay with that. Hopefully you’ll learn from my lessons learned. I’ll continue to share them as time passes. Also, if you’re good at getting rid of things, you’re invited over. Please take my stuff.


One thought on “10 lessons learned from my first month as a minimalist.

  1. I am currently trying to declutter my life to fit inside a van that my husband and I are going to live in. We used to live in a 1 bedroom apartment but downsized to my parent’s basement to save for our wedding. Now we have a TON of stuff sitting on our storage unit that I’m trying to get rid of. it’s crazy because I’ll go through half of it and get rid of it no problem – the other half I’m like I need this! Even though I haven’t thought about it or touched it in a year. The hardest part though is that I can’t help but assign a sentimental value to certain things that don’t let me get rid of them. A freakin hair curler to name one! I have never used it and yet it was a gift and so I can’t seem to get rid of it.

    It’s definitely a long process. But I am really hoping that living out of a van for a year will force me to live with less. Because it’s happening whether I like it or not.

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