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Minimal millennial

Minimalism has been gaining more ground as a trend among young adults over the past few years.

Being minimalist means removing distractions and materialistic things that take away from what you value, leaving behind only the things that really matter. Becoming a minimalist impacts your life in many ways and gives you a new perspective on human behaviour and necessity.

Living a minimalist lifestyle can mean a multitude of things, from buying an old yellow school bus for cross-country travels to donating some clothes you don’t wear anymore. Taking a look at everything you have and deciding what can stay and what can go allows for a clean slate.

I had a lot of junk. Knick-knacks, old papers, shoes I never wore, an unreasonable number of hair accessories – I had too much stuff and no reason for it. When I realized that I had a barely-used and probably expired collection of hair and face creams collecting dust in my bathroom, I knew I had to do something. But what? How could I shake my ‘I might need it at some point’ mentality?

I decided to begin a deep-cleaning mission in my apartment and show no mercy. Whatever I didn’t need would be put aside to be thrown out or donated. The old cream collection was my first target.

By forcing myself to say goodbye to some of the more obvious space wasters whether I was ready or not made it easier to tackle the difficult decisions. Do I like my collection of scarves? Of course. Do I need 18? Definitely not, so into the donation pile they (mostly) went.

While I’m still in the process of eliminating my clutter, I am finding the experience therapeutic. Seeing the change in my living space is encouraging change in my mind. As someone with general anxiety, I’ve noticed that I don’t feel as weighed down and on edge as I always did.

Students are constantly overwhelmed trying to balance school, work, relationships, extracurriculars and a social life. Having added distractions constantly reminding us to plug-in, buy this and do that can take away from the most important things that get pushed to the back burner. My schedule doesn’t allow time for me to be focusing on these meaningless messes when I have deadlines and a boyfriend to think about instead. Practicing minimalism can be a way to take away some unneeded stress and help students focus on their goals and passions.

The opportunity to save a few dollars here and there is also a draw for many who have a student loan to pay off or are trying to put money aside for a future investment. Opting to put that awesome shirt back on the rack and learning to be okay with just one Yankee candle per room can make a difference in the long run. You can learn to do without, to repurpose, to recycle and to use things until they are worn out. Multifunctionality and durability become the criteria to follow when choosing what remains of your possessions.

Thanks to social media, finding out how you can live simply is exactly that: simple. A quick Google search will show you that young adults are actively trying to de-clutter their lives, from how-to guides on getting rid of non-essentials in your apartment to packing up and living off-the-grid in a van.

With hundreds of videos on YouTube that offer advice and helpful tricks, as well as Instagram influencers sharing experiences and recommending their favourite must-have items on their feeds, it’s never been easier to give minimalism a try. In a world constantly pushing sales and upgrades, it may be time to flip the script and down-size instead.

While by no means am I encouraging you to go out and live in the woods like Christopher McCandless or Bear Grylls, I do encourage you to try thinking small and giving minimalism a chance. Donate a few of your nonessentials that haven’t been appreciated in years, organize your junk drawer, clean out your purse, use fewer decorative pillows, and let go of that grade 6 science project that’s been crammed in some deep dark corner for the last 10 years.

Removing things from your life that no longer bring you joy or carry purpose is more than just a way to alleviate stress, it’s a way to grow.

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