Living Simply, Surviving College

Making Space: the (life-changing) magic of tidiness

I wanted to transition into my next phase of topics that I look forward to covering on this blog, and I thought, what better way to transition out of minimalism and living simply than to cover some thoughts and ideas on how to survive college by first starting with the basics–taking care of yourself.

As I type this, my room isn’t so much in shambles (as it can sometimes get) but there were definitely too many things on my bed which would, in turn, require too much energy of me to make space for myself on it. Bypassing that altogether I picked a nice, cozy spot on my floor (note: sarcasm).

I look around me and within a 1-foot radius, there is a pile of mugs, a gift bag, clothes, papers and a few miscellaneous items surrounding where I sit. None of these items belong where they reside on my floor at the present time. But I have too many things on my to-do list that sit above cleaning my space.

I have come to realize that my room reflects my brain. If my room is unorganized, I am unorganized. If my brain is going in a million different directions, my stuff is in a million different (wrong) places all over my tiny room.

I have always been a pretty neat and tidy person. I enjoy being able to have a place for all my things. But if there is one thing I have learned is that throughout my transitions in college, is that I am now the main person of contact in looking after myself. Sounds silly, but for a while there, we depend on our parents to keep us in line as we live under their roof, but there comes a time where we break away from the nest and venture off on our own–and we need to be there for ourselves.

I have discovered the life-changing magic of tidying up.

Like I said, I am a pretty organized person with her moments of minimal destruction, but here’s a little boost to those who may not be so neat. I present the magical formula to staying tidy! (The outcome really is magical!!!)

Here are some of the lessons I take away from being tidy (and others have taken notice of this magical feeling too!)

  1. I own my things, my things don’t own me, but I should respect the things that I own because I (or someone I love) worked hard to provide them for me!
  2. There is a right way and a wrong way to store my things–Marie Kondo believes that if you put things in a way you can easily access and view them, you will come to notice what you value and what you don’t. (There is even a specific way she instructs how to fold your clothes–you can even just simply Google it).
  3. I have come to really love the things that I have. Marie Kondo teaches you to only display things in your space that “spark joy.” Everything else goes.

Trust me. In college, there is a lot going on in your life already. Let your room (however small it may be) be a place of rest and peace and a place that reflects you.

Make your bed. Fold your clothes. Display what you love. Light a candle. Breathe.

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Living Simply

The Contentment Challenge

Back in January of this year, I ran across this blog post by one of my favorite bloggers. And it changed my life. Here’s how:

Prior to running across said blog post that changed my life, I was becoming really interested in minimalism and ready to take whatever kind of leap that catapulted me into the minimalist community.

I was reading Do Less by Rachel Jonat and pumping myself up about simplifying my life in every area.

But I kept hitting a wall. I wanted the “look” of a minimalist, but that required me to go after this idea of a perfect wardrobe, sleek electronics, and decorative clean lines. I was unsatisfied with what I had, but I wanted less, but I also didn’t want to give anything up.

When I read Hannah Brencher’s post, something clicked.

For 3 months, I took on the challenge of being completely content with what I own and not buying a single thing (outside of personal necessities) for 3 months. No leisurely strolls around Target, no going out to eat (instead, eating the food provided in my meal plan at my university), and no Internet browsing for needless things.

I bought my necessities that week (make-up, hygiene products, etc.) that would last me a few months, and I faced the challenge head-on. For the few weeks following my original decision to stop buying unnecessary things, I had to explain my reasoning to so many people I felt like I was doing something weird. The main question most people asked was, “how in the world are you going to last 3 months?”

But I lasted 3 months. In fact, I lasted a lot longer. It became a mindset. I learned that to be content in such an unsatisfied world is a brave and sometimes lonely thing to do. Sure, I didn’t order a drink when I went out to coffee shops with friends, but it really didn’t matter to me. My mind had gone from being so needy of new things, nicer clothes, a newer phone, to realizing what I had to the fullest extent.

I became more thoughtful with my spending.

I was less stressed about what to wear.

I noticed I had a lot more free time to put towards experiences.

I gave up discontentment and spent my time seeking out new places to put my energy into. I learned that a lot of fulfilling things are free, like just being outside and taking into account how beautiful creation is. It competes for nothing. Contentment looks real simple, actually. I was given control over how things were going to affect me instead of the other way around. It was a reboot to what I learned about possessions slowly and over time. It was necessary and life-changing.

I would encourage everyone to try this challenge at least once in their life. Let yourself experience 3 months without the pressures of consumerism. It sounds dramatic, but until you experience it for yourself, you won’t realize how much freedom you’re missing out on. It is incredibly freeing, and you’ll learn a thing or two about yourself and how amazing your life actually is.

Once you need less, you will have more.

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