How It Feels To Be A Minimalist — And A Hoarder

Minimalism is just another one of those trends you see on Pinterest. Some swear that getting rid of items can change lives drastically, and I don’t doubt it either. Recently, I’ve been going through my things and deciding what I really need in my life, and it does feel like it helps. Part of the reason why I’ve been doing it is because I’ll most likely be moving out in the next year or so, and I can only imagine how small my first apartment will be.

But there’s one problem with being a minimalist:

I’m a hoarder.

Hoarding runs in my family. We tend to keep things we don’t need in our day-to-day lives, just in case. Luckily, organization also runs in the family, so we just have a lot of… well, stuff. I love organizing everything, but when I see how much I have, I get the urge to just throw it all out the window.

To put it into perspective, here’s a brief list of how much I own in rough (very rough) estimates:

  • 500 items of clothing
  • 200 books
  • 150 vinyl records / 50 CDs
  • 40 pairs of shoes
  • 35 purses / tote bags
  • 50 notebooks (both written in and empty)

And those are just estimations. I could own 650 pieces of clothing for all I know, but do I want to count it all? Hell no. But I know I have more than enough, because I frequently acknowledge it and make attempts to clean out. There are 5 steps in an attempt to pursue minimalism.

  1. Realize I have too much shit. I can no longer find places to put everything away.
  2. Start going through it all. I rummage through my bureaus and closet and pick out what I don’t want.
  3. Make piles on the floor. 
  4. Realize I don’t know what to do with it. I want to be seriously ethical when getting rid of my belongings, so I don’t like donating items to Goodwill or the Salvation Army for multiple reasons. Instead, I want my stuffed animals and toys donated to kids, clothes to shelters, and books to people who love reading as much as I do. But I also wouldn’t mind making a few bucks and selling my things…. but I feel bad for people who can’t afford what I own. And I don’t want to just throw it away because it’s terrible for the environment….
  5. So I give up and eventually go buy new things to fill the void, even though the items are still on the floor. 
This happens every few months.

So what’s a girl to do? I hate owning so much, but the hoarding tendency in me wants to keep it all. What if I want to read that book again, or I want to wear that shirt once more? It feels absolutely amazing when I do get rid of a few boxes or bags, even if they do end up at Goodwill. I love throwing out old papers and having room on a shelf to finally get those books off my desk. When people say that minimalism changes their lives, I believe them. I know that I could eventually get rid of what isn’t needed.

Yet, I also know how upset I’ll be when I donate something that really doesn’t have sentimental value, but somehow makes me emotional.

For now, I’ll continue to fight my hoarding behavior. Minimalism is a goal for the future, and it just means I need to keep working to avoid #4 and #5 on my list and follow through. If you want to try being a minimalist but hate throwing things out, just remember: you’re not alone. You’ll get there eventually (and hopefully I can too).

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