“Have nothing in your homes that you do not know to be useful and believe to be beautiful.”
— William Morris
Minimalism is nothing new. Many cultures practice keeping only what was necessary. Throughout history, incomes dictated what you could buy and keep in your home.
Then came the Victorians, the generation that defined collecting. They filled their homes with figurines and knick-knacks, as the Industrial Revolution made things cheaper to produce and the more you had, the more it showed off your wealth. Chairs filled their drawing rooms to better entertain guests. Clothing was being made in factories, so one could have a huge wardrobe without the major expense. “Keeping up with the Joneses” came about and your influences came from your social circles.
Nowadays, we have social media to drive that saying in.
Whether you are on a self-imposed no-spend, on a tight budget, or even just interested in paring down your stationery collection, I think we can all agree that there are moments we hit our wall. You know the wall I’m talking about. You’ve logged into social media or maybe thought to browse your favorite stationery site out of boredom. You see the post of new items added to the catalog, the company is announcing the latest must-have, your friend is posting that weekly happy mail package full of new goodies. You’re left to see them show examples of their new things for weeks after. We are constantly bombarded with needing to acquire new things. Because it’s cute, because it completes the collection, because we need to have it or else we will miss out.
I write this as I watch a film called Minimalism: A Documentary on Netflix. I have also been feeling strongly the struggle of not buying. So I thought it was a good time to dive into this film and also to address why it’s been particularly hard to not shop lately. My lack of shopping, for stationery specifically, is not only because I realize I have more than I could use at one time, but also because I am very aware of my current financial situation. I am taking responsibility in recognizing that I do want to – and need to pay off credit card debt, that I want to save for more vacations and retirement – which by the time I do stop working, I will require much more in my savings than our parents or grandparents needed in order to live.
This may sound like a dull subject for many, because people follow journalers not only for inspiration, but to see craft hauls and get tips on what’s new to buy. I get that, I do the same when I watch Youtubers and read from bloggers. But I want to cover this subject for those who are experiencing the same as I – you don’t have or don’t want to have all your money go to stuff, you want to focus your money on more important things.
When I identified what was triggering these yearnings, I came to realize it mainly stemmed from social media influences. I’ve slowly learned to disconnect the feelings of want when I watch Youtube hauls, translating it instead to just vicariously living through the purchaser through their video. I meet up with a group of journalers each month to discuss our favorite subject, where one friend also owns an online stationery business, so you can see that the enabling can be strong when we get together! I am on Instagram daily so the beautiful pictures make any stationery lover wistfully dream all day.
I have had to really limit my internet time since starting this stationery minimalism journey. I’ve started to just delete email notifications as I get them; I choose not to unsubscribe for when I do want to spend, I don’t forget my go-to resources. While I do log in to check my favorite sites for inspiration and maybe to see what some friends are up to in their journals, when I feel that urge to buy, I ask myself the following questions:
- Why do I feel like I need this item?
- Do I have something similar?
- Is this only a momentary thrill or will I really enjoy having it?
- Amy I buying this out of boredom or the need to ‘keep up’?
- Can this purchase wait?
Then I also review the following statements:
- I can live without it. The world will not end with my not having it.
- I (usually) have something similar – use that.
- Buying this will not make me cooler or more creative.
- There are better things to spend my money on.
- Once I stop looking at it, I will most likely forget about it, therefore, I don’t truly need it in my life.
This is nothing revolutionary. But minimalism is usually something one only hears about regarding décor or someone’s wardrobe. In the journaling community, this is a very quiet subject. So I hope this article helps to address that there are some memory keepers out there that do not strive to have a huge craft room, that it is not our goal to buy everything simply because we just want it, and that we are okay with not having a huge collections of things.
This wall I’ve hit ebbs and flows, it usually fades after a few days. Then I am back to passionately enjoying my little desk area and how everything I’ve curated is just enough for me. Writing this while feeling this way has helped enormously, once again reminding myself how lucky I am to have what I have, that these feelings are usually just momentary. It is much like hunger pangs when what you really need is a glass of water. And I must remind myself that we are very much raised in an era with the mindset of that because we can, we should have it. There is no questioning it. But when we start having shelves and baskets of “supplies I don’t really use, but still want to keep,” it starts to clog up our creative spaces and hinder creativity itself.
This is not to bash those that love to collect. Nay, this is to reach out to those who sometimes feel alone in their choice to keep only a pencil case worth of their favorite writing tools and a small box of washi tape. This is for those who know which pencils they love to sketch with and stick to it, instead of constantly trying out new ones. And this is for those who are slowly transitioning to a well-curated artifact collection. You are not alone. And that wall you have hit – that voice telling you to constantly shop – that’s normal, and it’s okay to give in to it sometimes. But it’s also okay to refrain and just enjoy what you have in front of you.