De-owning is a slow process that cannot be rushed.
When I first decided that I needed to de-own most of my belongings, and simplify my life, I thought the process would be a relatively quick one.
After all, how long can it possibly take to clear out just one house? I couldn’t really have that much stuff, could I?
Here I am, a year on, maybe more, still clearing out things I do not need.
First wave: Low hanging fruit.
In the first wave of clearing clutter, the process was swift. I gave bags and bags of clothing to charity, sold dozens of books online, and passed on many of my childrens’ toys and outgrown clothes.
These were the easy items. I had no emotional attachment to any of them, and the decisions to part with them were simple. They were the low-hanging fruit. No regrets.
Second wave: the de-clutter bug hits.
But once the low-hanging fruit was gone, the process still felt unfinished. My home still felt cluttered. I still spent too long tidying my kids’ rooms, and cleaning my own.
At this point, I realised my house was too big. It clicked with me that having a big house had encouraged me to buy things I didn’t actually need, simply to fill empty spaces.
The declutter bug hit, I decided we needed to move, and from that point on – with the goal of a home sale firmly in mind – I began to really get down to the business of de-cluttering.
Third wave: This thing called minimalism
I began to call myself a minimalist. I began to see stuff as stuff – not as items with great value, but as clutter blocking the way to my freedom.
My wardrobe reduced from over 200 items, some of which I’d never worn, to less than 40.
I gave away jewelry I’d been given as a child.
I sold books I’d never read.
Piles of items “to go” were a permanent fixture in my room, but they changed from week to week as the current piles of stuff disappeared and new items to go were stacked ready to move out.
I began to feel a sense of release.
I began to question my assumption that I needed to own property.
I began to question traditions of gift-giving.
I began to question what really made me happy.
De-owning takes time. Some items have been hard to let go. Some items I wasn’t quite ready to let go a year ago and yet now I’m completely ready to pass them on to others, or bin them.
De-owning is a process of growth and change, and we need to give ourselves time to grow and change. We need to be gentle with ourselves, and not expect complete minimalism to take root all at once.
Fourth wave: My minimalism journey begins.
I think I can truly say my minimalism journey is now beginning. I’m going to make mistakes and missteps. I’ll still buy things I don’t need. I’ll still suffer buyer’s remorse.
But the healing has begun.