I recently got asked a question on Instagram’s latest feature for tips on being confident in your own skin. I was taken aback by this question because confident is a word I’ve never been able to use to describe myself. Until now.
Growing up, I used to think that if I had this thing or looked like a certain way that I’d finally be confident. In high school, it was all about having something branded from Hollister or Abercrombie (man, do kids have it easier today!). The bigger the branding, the better (*cringe!*). Then in college, it was all about finding the best deals in the sales rack at Urban Outfitters and being able to buy your first designer handbag or watch. After college, it has been a race to get the nicest car, the biggest house, go on the most exotic vacations, and get the most likes/followers. I was a sales rack queen–buying things just for the brand so that I could fit in and say I got it from _____ if someone asked, or so that I could tag it in my photos.
For years, I hid behind my purchases, relying heavily on things to make me feel good and to make me seem that I was of a certain status. Then, when Instagram came around, I hid behind having a pretty feed and only showcasing the good and beautiful parts of my life. I made sure to only buy clothes and go to places that I would be proud to tag in my pictures. But behind that image, you’d never know about all the melt downs I had in dressing rooms about things that didn’t fit; how I chose to eat cheaply and badly so I could afford this thing or that thing; how hard it was for me to get dressed in the mornings; how much I didn’t like myself.
The more I bought though, the less confident I seemed to become. It just never seemed to be enough. Someone was always thinner or prettier. Someone always had a more expensive, or better looking thing. Someone was going to travel here and there. Someone always had more, and I never seemed to have enough. I was never content with what I had (even though what I had was more than most). There was always something just out of my reach. It wasn’t until I started my journey towards minimalism last year that I finally confronted my issues and started accepting myself as I am.
With minimalism, you have nothing to hide behind. What you see is what you have, and ultimately who you are, what you like, and what your life is about. Decluttering forces you to confront your issues. It took me quite a few rounds of decluttering my closet for me to accept my body as it is and the changes it has made over the years. I will never be a size 0 or an extra small. I have boobs, a butt, and thighs that touch. It made me realize that boxy and square cuts work best for my frame (and comfort) than things that are cinched in at the waist. That smock dresses have the potential to be my best friend. That not all stripes are created equal. That I’m really not a skirt or a button-down shirt kinda person (nor do I need to be). That a white t-shirt is not one of my closet essentials (but a grey sweater and a black t-shirt certainly are things that I cannot live without).
Decluttering also forces you to let go of the person you hoped to be and the person that you once were so that you can start accepting the person that you are. I let go of the idea of me being a domestic goddess or a hostess when I decluttered my kitchen. I let go of excess mugs and plates because I thought I would be constantly having friends over to entertain. But with our 400-square-ft space and my introverted tendencies, it’s typically just the two of us (or at most, another couple with us). When I let go of my sparkly tops, high heels, and pleather shorts, I let go of the idea of me going out for drinks after work or on the weekends, and the single younger me who would go clubbing with her friends in Vegas. I let go of some of the books I never read but had because I was supposed to have it on my shelf so that I looked well-read. I let go of the gear that I bought when I went snowboarding because I sucked at it and I hated it, and will probably never ever go again (and if I do, I’ll be content with staying in the cabin and admiring the snow from afar). I let go of all the possible versions of myself, and really started to see the person that I am.
I am a person who likes to wear black. I prefer to eat out of bowls rather than plates, and drink out of mugs than glasses. I like to stay in most nights, and would prefer to catch up over coffee than over drinks. I am a girl who feels more beautiful in a cozy sweater, jeans, and boots than in a tight dress and heels. I am a girl who actually doesn’t mind sharing a closet and 400 sq. ft. with her boyfriend, and would be content with a small home.
The more I declutter and let go of, the more I feel like my home and closet reflect who I am.
Looking back on this last year, I’m so proud (also not a word I use often to describe how I feel about myself) of how far I’ve come and how much I’ve overcome. A few years ago, I would’ve felt ashamed outfit repeating on Instagram or in real life. Now, I wear the same dress without care, sometimes for days on end. I’m not shopping every weekend or stressing out (too much) over what to wear. Never did I think that having less is actually the key to finding and owning your personal style, or that I would cross off having a walk-in closet as a non-negotiable in our future home.
However, old habits die hard. I find myself still comparing my clothes to other ethical or minimalist bloggers out there, and wanting to have things from certain brands so that I can truly look (and feel) the part. I still make impulse purchases, even from ethical brands. The important thing though is now I am aware of these tendencies and can ask myself about my intentions before buying something. Is it something you truly want?Why do you want this? The other important thing to remember is I’m only human, and I’m doing the best I can.
Minimalism is hard, and often times, inconvenient. But I think it is so worth it. And the best part about it is: it has no rules! It is totally customizable to your needs and your wants. It is what you make of it.
“The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.”
| note: thank you for supporting pleb life with the affiliate links below |