I have an embarrassing confession to make. If you took a look in my purse, you would never know that I am a minimalist. Twice this week, people commented on how much I have stuffed into my purse. People ask how I can carry it without back and/or shoulder pain. According to my coworker, I have everything in there but the kitchen sink.
Of course, I never intended to have a purse with a jungle inside. It just happened… very gradually. And that’s the way it tends to be: you add a little something here, drop a couple of items in there, and soon enough your purse weighs as much as a small child.
Just so you can get an idea of what’s in my purse, I’ll list some of the contents:
- sunglasses w/ case
- makeup bag, which contains an embarrassing array of products: 4 lip liners, 5 lipsticks, 4 lip glosses, 1 lip balm, and 1 lip brush
- car key
- house key
- coin purse
- iPod touch
- hand lotion
- a bottle of Aleve (nearly empty)
- a bottle of prescription naproxen
- hair ties (3)
- mini jewelry catalogues (10)
- powder (to remove excess oil from my face)
- facial blotting papers (also to remove excess oil from my face)
- library card
- samples of Elizabeth Arden facial moisturizer and anti-aging serum
- miscellaneous mail
- gift cards: Cheesecake Factory, Target, Barnes & Noble, Starbucks
- feminine products (4)
- business cards (2)
- assorted pieces of jewelry
- 1 fiber bar
- 4 pens, 1 highlighter
- assorted receipts
- a plastic water bottle
I know, I know, it’s ridiculous — even for a non-minimalist. But for a minimalist, the state of my purse is an abomination.
In examining the contents of my purse, I realize four things:
- that I have trouble differentiating what I need from what I want
- that I have not yet conquered the fear that “I may need it later”
- that I will use the “just in case” rationale to justify just about anything
- that I don’t know how to make do with what I have on hand
I knew that I had lots of room for improvement as I pursue simplicity in my life, but I had no idea that my consumerist/hoarding tendencies were this severe. I read about people who have simplified their lives to the point where they can fit everything they own into a backpack. They own little, and they carry even less. What kind of minimalist am I when I carry all this crap with me everywhere I go?
This is ridiculous. If I can’t simplify my purse, how can I simplify my life? If I can’t sensibly determine the things that I need to have with me at all times, how can I hope to determine the things I need in my life overall?
Though I am very discouraged by my lack of progress, I am committed to steady improvement. I have decided to challenge myself with these immediate changes:
- where I have multiples, I will reduce to just one
- seriously reevaluate what I need to have with me. Do I really need a mirror all the time? When is the last time I have been to the Cheesecake Factory? (perhaps I need to take a trip there and use these gift cards)
- clear the clutter. It’s time to remove the mail, the receipts, the fiber bar, the water bottle…
The real challenge will be long term: learning what it is that I truly need, and sticking with that.