An Introduction to Minimalism for College Students

I was first introduced to “minimalism” from Pinterest and the Kon Mari method. This was a couple years ago when it was really hip, but not yet as mainstream as now. My whole life I’ve been surrounded by clutter and I had a serious urge to make a change. Since my venture into minimalism, I have gotten rid of tons of clothes, some I was wearing since elementary school, old electronics, sifted through countless beauty products, cleaned, donated, sold, and trashed quite a few things. The feeling of relying less on material possessions to give you comfort is freeing, especially when you have to move around a lot or are going somewhere temporary, such as college. I think any student can benefit from minimalism, here are some of the benefits, pros, cons, and how-to’s for students.

The first benefit of minimalism is that you won’t have so much to lug to and from school between terms or at the end of the year. If you live on campus or attend school away from home it can be seriously frustrating to have to get a mover, or pack a trillion things into one space just to arrive at a tiny dorm or room.

Believe me, you can leave most of your belongings at your parents’ house when you have items you can’t part with, for example an artwork or personally, I have an engraved silver music box from my grandparents, but some items have no business being saved or exonerated. Items like old stained socks, a skincare item that doesn’t work for you, a ribbon you kept because you thought it was pretty, and clothes you don’t wear anymore. Those things clearly wouldn’t have a purpose in your life, and aren’t serving you in any way. Often, you try to preserve the past as much as you possibly can, but in reality you should learn to rely more on appreciating what once was instead of holding onto the remains of the past. As you migrate from home at the beginning of fall, you may begin to miss that blanket, or those shoes, or that bag, bring it to school and never look at it again.

Minimalism creates the tendency to evaluate the usefulness of an item, how we can implement it in our daily lives, and allows us to focus on thinking rather than distracting ourselves with items we no longer have interest in. If I had stuck to minimalism when I entered college, my life would be a lot easier. Of course I needed a bed, storage, and a desk along with pots and pans since I’m an off campus student, but I could have severely limited my wardrobe. I had so much clothing at the end of fall quarter because it went from ninety degree weather to freezing cold and I would keep going back home for more clothes. No one controls the weather, and if you live somewhere where there’s a temperamental climate it can be useful to have a lot of things, but you should really limit yourself to what you can fit in a closet. I bought a dresser before last term which I don’t even want anymore because it’s so massive and I have no way of moving it on my own. It’s cute, yes, but college is, for most, a temporary thing and I honestly have no desire to lug it from place to place every time I move. For out of state students, taking three massive boxes of clothes, storage you think you need, and furniture you thought you wanted, you’re raising the cost of your tuition just including U-hauls and shipping and the time spent on moving it all. This is why I seriously suggest limiting your wardrobe to the absolute basics, and only bringing furniture you know you need. Seriously, save yourself a buck or two.

Living with your parents it’s perhaps less of a hassle, but it’s always good to go into a new stage of life fresh. That means not holding onto the old, or channeling your fears into a false senses of sentimentality attached to physical things. I’ve been around hoarding and developed those habits as well. Before and even after minimalism I was holding on to a false belief that I had to keep everything from shoestrings to bubbles just because they were from what I saw as a better part of my life. I was trying to create an identity out of these material items. I had a box of items that were precious to me, and that box was almost never touched. Things I forgot about, or looked at later and thought “why do I even have this?” Students moving into adulthood should mature enough to separate what material items are weighing them down emotionally and physically, and sometimes that means retiring the things we “own.”

Minimalism absolutely does NOT have to be stuffy, boring, or monochromatic. There are plenty of ways to interpret and fit minimalism to your own style. It’s not necessarily grey and black with white, pristine marble and IKEA furniture. Those are just some of the ways people interpret minimalism. You can keep your style, your life, and your inspiration, but traveling will be much easier, you’ll be able to live with more intent, and focus on collegiate life more than dry-cleaning a shirt you’ve worn once, or reorganizing your clothes multiple times so you can fit everything. Plus, it’s nice to have more space to customize to your lifestyle. For me, the basics are just fine.

I’ll have another post up soon on this, thank you for reading! But first, how do you feel about minimalism?




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