Minimalism & Mindfulness

Minimalism Struggles Part I: Minimalism & Hobbies

August 18, 2020

We’ve all seen the minimalists with aesthetic, bare rooms filled with only a handful of possessions. We’ve seen minimalists who can fit their entire lives into a backpack and personally, it’s something that I’ve always admired and a part of me has wanted that for myself. But as more and more years pass by, I’m starting to realize that that brand of minimalism may not be for me, because one of my biggest struggles with minimalism has been having way too many hobbies.

I’ve always been the kind of person who loves to try out new hobbies and goes through constant phases where I really dive deep into one hobby for a month or two before becoming inspired by something new. Some hobbies become permanent parts of my life while others I end up realizing just aren’t for me. And even within the hobbies that are keepers, I go through phases of not engaging in them for days, months, or even years at a time before suddenly becoming re-inspired and picking up the hobby again for a good few weeks or months. An example of this is music. I love to play guitar and the first time I picked up a guitar was when I was 13. It’s been almost 13 years since then and I often go months without even touching my guitar before suddenly, inspiration strikes and my guitar and I once again become inseparable pals for months on end.

There is just SO much to learn in this world, so many things to try and unfortunately, minimalism or the more contemporary version of it at least, is simply not compatible with my lifestyle, so I struggle with this. I struggle with the idea of minimalism, if I’m just a fraud, if I have too many things, if perhaps I’m a “hobby hoarder”. I overthink and overanalyze hobby-related purchases every time I want to try something new, and in this way, I find that often the idea of minimalism holds me back and causes me more anxiety than if I simply just let go of the label. Sometimes these labels become such a strong part of our identities, that they end up playing the opposite role than what they’re intended for. In the case of minimalism, the whole idea is to let go of consumerism and free your mind from the constant attachment to material items, but how often do we minimalists become even more material-centric in our thinking because of minimalism?

Then there are all the minimalists out there who claim that minimalism is simply about owning what brings you joy and it doesn’t matter how much stuff you have. I’ve literally expressed this exact sentiment in the past, but then that kind of defeats the entire purpose of minimalism because the whole point is to have the minimum amount of items to meet your needs and to cut down on the unnecessary. But, we humans are clever creatures and we will literally rationalize and make necessary whatever it is that we want if we give it enough thought, so it can’t be right to have no boundaries whatsoever either, otherwise what separates the average consumer with houses and storage units full of stuff from “minimalists” who also have houses and storage units full of stuff? So, what is the solution? I don’t have the answer, but here’s what I think:

I think that labels are comforting to us because we like having strong identities. We want to know exactly who and what we are and what we stand for. We want to give our lives meaning, so we adopt labels, and that’s perfectly fine, but like everything, when we take it too far, it becomes more harmful than beneficial to us. I don’t want to limit my hobbies and my desire to explore new arenas in my life, but I also recognize that there may be some truth to the whole hobby hoarder thing and that overall in the long run, it’s still better for me and my lifestyle to possess a smaller amount of objects than the norm. It’s important for me to be mobile and to have the freedom to move at a moment’s notice without worrying about a cumbersome amount of things bogging me down. It’s important for me to have some level of material-detachment and to break the cycle of constant consumerism. Ultimately, what I seek is balance, and balance is not something instantaneous, but rather it’s the result of constant tweaking until you land on the sweet spot that feels just right, so I’m just going to keep tweaking my life until I find mine.

What about you? I know I’m not the only one who struggles with this as a minimalist and I’d love to hear your thoughts, experiences, and suggestions in the comments down below!

PS. I think this will be a series where I share all of the struggles with minimalism that I’ve experienced over the years! I think it’ll be fun to dive into all the not-so-glamorous parts of minimalism that aren’t often discussed, what do you think?

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