Every couple of months or so, I wake up in the morning and decide to become a Minimalist. I resolve to completely transform my life, simplify my world and cut out all unnecessary stress and worry – anything that doesn’t actively Make Me Happy goes on the chopping block.
For the next 24 hours I lead an incredibly productive life, rearranging my furniture and redistributing my clothes into slightly different piles. This is usually the same state of mind in which I scrap all my career plans and tell myself I deserve to take classes just for fun. A few days later my steely will to simplify is more or less shoved aside by my incapacity to adequately organize my time, and within a week, I inevitably find myself surrounded by stacks of handouts, flyers and Post-It reminders. Rinse. Repeat.
I believe in minimalism, I really do. I’m an undeniably messy person, but I’ve convinced myself (in an earnest yet misguided attempt) that even though I don’t actually do anything that contributes toward minimalism as a lifestyle, I’m a Minimalist at heart. However, my most recent bout of desire to self-improve has left me with an inconvenient case of Personal Accountability, and I think it’s time for me to face the truth.
I like chalking up my failures to factors that are not myself as much as the next person, but the fact is that the problem isn’t minimalism. It’s Minimalism – that “pure” lifestyle in which you somehow end up paying $800 for a solid black canvas, and looking suspiciously at your bank account wondering how “they” got ya.
The differences between minimalism and Minimalism are aesthetically pretty noticeable, but the more important discrepancies are about the process. As a Minimalist, I quite failed. I do not read Kant, or Clorox my laptop keyboard exactly as often as the User’s Manual instructs. My bedspread is multicolored, and I write in Moleskine lookalikes. (I mean, come on – those notebooks are $30. That’s a bit ridiculous even to be Insta-glam.) And if we’re being completely honest here, I just don’t like rectangular décor that much.
So while I will continue to quietly covet those clean lines and crisp contrast (which are somehow both vaguely Scandinavian and halfway Eastern/fengshui), I’ve realized that some people (me) must resign themselves to the pursuit of unglamorous minimalism. You know, the kind where you’d settle for just being a slightly less-frazzled and weary person.
Minimalism as an ideology is super appealing. How can anybody resist all those blogs and photo-journals documenting life as a Fulfilled Adult with a chic monochrome wardrobe and all-chrome kitchen appliances? As an interior decorating aesthetic, a way of life and a mindset for success, simplifying and learning to cut out negative energy is both a legitimately noble goal and an increasingly fashionable trend among the glam folk of the Internet. It falls nicely into that category of things that would be genuinely wise, but are still not too pretentious to pursue before the age of 30.
But as they say about “all that glitters” – it’s not all goals.
Contact Maximiliana Bogan at ebogan ‘at’ stanford.edu.