The minimalism game goes like this: On the first of the month, you throw out one thing. It can be anything that you own and don’t need anymore. On the second of the month, you throw out two. Then three, four, and so on – you get the idea. If you play all the way through, you get rid of something like 500 items.
When I started playing this game in August, I did not know that before the month was over, I’d be sitting in an empty room in an apartment that wasn’t mine. All I had with me was a suitcase of clothes and some bare necessities packed in complete desperation at 5 a.m. in my old apartment, my old life. Involuntarily, I faced the most minimalist scenario of them all: Moving into an empty, unfurnished room, leaving most of my belongings behind.
Aside from the hurt and grief that comes with such significant life changes, I was also angry about losing my apartment. That place, and the things in it, had felt like a safe haven. Empty rooms brim with possibility, but they seldom feel like a haven. Needless to say, there is no point in pursuing the minimalism game any further – this time, I’ll have to work the other way around.
Situations like this can be very overwhelming. There is the urge to make the emptiness of the new room go away. Looking at it from a mindset of “less clutter, more clarity”, however, an almost empty room can also be a good thing, especially in the early stages of sudden life changes.
How much “stuff” do you need?
Here are a few questions I’ve been asking myself over the last few days. If you are ever in a similar situation, these may help to clear your mind and re-focus.
- What do I absolutely need to feel safe and comfortable here? A bed? A desk? Flowers? A rug?
- What (if this is an option) can I take from my old life that will make this place feel like a home? A potted plant maybe or a beloved armchair?
- What did I love about my old place? What didn’t I love?
- Is there anything I am glad to have left behind?
- What do I miss the most?
- Do I want to decorate the walls? How?
- What have I always wanted but for some reason (i.e. not enough space, your roommate or partner hated it, didn’t match the colour scheme) did not have in my old home? Can I have it here?
Above all else, don’t rush. Take time answering these questions. Breathe, and remember: An empty room is space for a fresh start, clutter-free and with a clear mind. Eventually, you will be “home” again in this new place. Trust in the process!
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