The theme of bravery has cropped up in a lot of contexts lately: being brave enough to not worry about what others think of me, to start putting myself forward at work, and to articulate what I want out of any given situation.
Today I’ve been thinking about the links between bravery and minimalism. To me, minimalism is about being brave enough to commit to what I know I want and get rid of everything else. Hanging on to things that aren’t important to you, out of guilt or habit or fantasy, isn’t committing to what’s important to you. Owning things ‘just in case’ is my way of not making decisions.
More and more I’m becoming certain about what I will or won’t read, watch, wear or spend my time doing. But when I look around my room I can see plenty of things that don’t fit into that.
I see jewellery that I have never worn, but was a gift from someone I care about and therefore feel obligated to keep. Problem is, all it’s doing is making me feel guilty that I don’t wear it. But true friendships are not based on giving presents, and the best people will not care whether I still have the necklace they gave me for my birthday three years ago. What am I afraid of?
I see books I feel I should read but never want to. I should be brave enough to admit that I am not the kind of person who reads about politics or economics in their down time. I read fiction and watch E4 sitcoms. This doesn’t make me a less interesting or less intelligent person.
I see DVDs I will never watch again, but feel I need a “DVD collection” to help communicate who I am or to make buying the DVDs seem like less of a waste of money. I am not my film collection (I am not my fucking khakis).
I see shoes that I spent money on but I do not wear. Because you can only wear one pair of shoes at a time, and I’m wearing them, and they’re comfortable. I need to stop buying heels I won’t wear just because they’re pretty, or in the sale, or in a charity shop. I need to be brave enough to admit that yes, I spent a lot of money on those and haven’t worn them yet. But what makes me think that if I haven’t worn them in the last six months I’ll wear them in the next? And how does keeping them in the bottom of the wardrobe make them less of a waste of money than giving them away? Admit the mistake, donate, and move on.
I see clothes and jewellery that belong to a past self, with different tastes. I should be brave enough to admit that I’ve moved on, am a different person and will never go back.
I see dresses that are too small for me. They make me feel guilty for eating ice-cream and cookies. Enough said.
William Morris famously said that we should have nothing in our houses that we do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful. I would add ‘or carries some kind of weird emotional baggage.’ Because when we own things that we don’t use, have outgrown or are keeping because we think we should, they tend to prey on our mind, even if only subconsciously. I want nothing in my home that I haven’t consciously decided to keep because it adds value to my life now, and not because it once did or might do in the future. I want to be brave enough to make decisions based on what I want, and not what I feel I should. Lastly, I want a living space that reminds me that I’m confident about who I am, and just as importantly, who I’m not.