“You shouldn’t deprive yourself at such a young age,” she told me as I narrated her the story of why I wear the same set of clothes every week, since 3 years now.
This is not the first time someone felt I am depriving myself when they hear about minimalism — about how I seldom shop or the fact that I don’t own much. They shake their head in disbelief when I mention my disinterest in purchasing. By now, some people think I am crazy — how can someone not want a luxurious car or a bungalow with lifts inside it?
But I understand how lines can blur — how minimalism can be confused with asceticism. How me not buying excess can be confused with me wanting to live near some holy river in utter poverty.
To clear it up here’s my attempt to explain it through weird images I created on Powerpoint.
I often get asked about how to distinguish between minimalism and deprivation. If something adds value to your life, then keep it. Don’t throw it away and then take pride in being a minimalist.
Minimalism is not about how less you own: I find all the noise about owning the least dangerous. It defeats the point of minimalism. I have read ample blogs about people travelling with 33 items and 147 items — I don’t have anything against that lifestyle, but remember — it works for THEM. It’s okay if it doesn’t work for you. No-one will dethrone your minimalist title if you own 500 items.
[Side note: There’s no such thing as a minimalist title — it’s not a one-time thing. Minimalism is alive — the process lasts as long as you do.]
I have more books than anyone else I know. Yes, I can buy a Kindle and get rid of all the physical books. But I love reading paperbacks — the crispness of the paper, the smell, the experience of turning the last page, and just looking out the window while holding a closed book. I get immense value out of my collection.
Deprivation would be my throwing them away for the sake of minimalism. I could throw them away and write a blog about how I own 27 items. I could count my stuff and flaunt the numbers — but that’s not minimalism.
At the same time, I also own fewer clothes — so much so that people close to me remember every colour of my wardrobe. Is that deprivation? No. The number is more than enough for me, and I don’t get any value out of fashion.
So, when you decide to be minimalist: don’t think about depriving yourself in any way. Think about what is essential for you and what is excess.
If you are amongst those who believe minimalism is deprivation — it’s not. On the contrary, it’s about how to maximise value by focusing on things that matter.
One time, a person asked me how am I minimalist if I am not bald.
I do have long hair: I guess that disqualifies me from being a minimalist.