I knew when I started my simple living journey that I’d be the only one. Not that my family doesn’t see the value in owning less, but it isn’t their style. As I decluttered items that no longer served me, they held onto theirs. They didn’t judge or make fun of my decision, but I knew being a minimalist would definitely have its challenges.
Still, I have noticed some of my new lifestyle choices rubbing off on them. I recently helped my mom declutter a ton of stuff from the kitchen and we plan on tackling their very disorganized linen closet soon. My sister is starting to re-evaluate her clothes and my dad is throwing away old pieces of wood he’ll never use.
So while being a minimalist in a family of non-minimalists can be challenging, there are moments where they see the benefits. And so I wanted to share some of the biggest challenges I’ve faced in this journey.
Here are 4 ways being a minimalist is challenging when you’re the only one in your family
#1 — Letting others do their own thing
It’s hard for me to keep quiet about something I’m passionate about. Don’t get me started on how the Rise of Skywalker ruined the Star Wars saga for me. Most of us are the same. When we start watching a new show, we have to talk about it. We want to make others passionate about it too.
When I started decluttering and re-evaluating my possessions, I couldn’t help but share how light I felt. My family was nervous I was getting rid of things I’d regret later on, but I assured them I was vigilant. I did keep more sentimental items than I thought I would.
But our passions can sometimes become annoying, especially when we try to force it on others. In the midst of decluttering my stuff, I would say to my family, “You haven’t touched this or that in months. You should declutter it.”
Needless to say, it didn’t go over well. Finally, I learned to stop asking.
So one of the biggest challenges I’ve had to overcome in being a minimalist is learning to let others do their own thing. Not everyone is going to want to own less. And you have to let them. But if they’re curious and want to practice minimalism without becoming a minimalist, this blog post offers some great tips on how to do that.
#2 — How to ask for gifts
This holiday season will be my first as a minimalist and I’ve already been dealing with some challenges in that area. Recently, I curated two different lists: an Amazon Wish List and a Gift Hero Wish List. Gift Hero is great for items that aren’t available on Amazon. You save the link of the item you want on your master wish list. Then you can share the list with anyone you want.
Being a minimalist means making my wish list intentional. Every single item on it is something I know I want and will use, but don’t necessarily need this very moment. I plan on sharing both lists with my loved ones as we get closer to the holidays. To nudge them in the right direction.
I know I’m going to get items I don’t want or need — like clothes or knick-knacks — and that’s fine. But I’m going to make it clear that the gifts I really want are on those wish lists.
It’s important to remember that the person giving you the gift is thinking of you and what you like. You can lead people in the direction you want them to go, but they may steer off and do their own thing. If that happens, accept the gift and move on.
#3 — Being a supportive shopping buddy
Every so often I’ll receive a text from my sister. It says, “I need a new shirt for [some event]. Want to run to Kohl’s with me?” 95% of the time I say yes. I still do love going to stores with my sister. It’s our bonding time. And it’s been a fun challenge for me.
When we went shopping together, I used to leave the store with at least 2-3 new things. Oftentimes I wouldn’t even think about the purchase I was making. If I saw something I liked, I bought it. Then I’d go home and find I already had something similar.
Now when I go shopping with my sister — or any shopping in general — if I see something I like I stop and ask myself:
- Do I need this?
- Do I love this?
- Will I use this?
Those 10 extra seconds have been a game-changer. Of course, I’m not perfect. I’ve left a shopping trip with one or two things, but they’re more intentional. You can be a minimalist and still be a supportive shopping buddy. The key is being a supportive shopping buddy without breaking your own spending rules.
#4 — Being mindful of group activities
Being a minimalist doesn’t mean I spend all my days inside. I still love going out with friends. Recently, my cousin and I went to the Sojo Spa Club. It was an amazing day of relaxing in their pools and saunas. I still felt the effects the next day. I also had a few girlfriends over last weekend and we each pitched in to order takeout.
Still, I’m mindful about how often I go out and how I spend my money on group activities. There’s nothing wrong with spending quality time with friends and having a nice meal out or experiencing an activity together. It’s the number of times you do that should be re-evaluated.
The one advantage I have to this is being an introvert and a homebody. I’d much prefer hanging out with a small group and going someplace quiet, not too crowded, and intimate. More often than not, my girlfriends and I alternate houses when we get together.
The challenge isn’t about finding time to hang out. It’s about spending money to hang out. If your friends always want to go out to eat, consider having a potluck at someone’s house. Find fun new ways to do things that would otherwise cost a lot of money.
I’m not saying to never go out to dinner or a bar again. But part of being a minimalist is spending intentionally. And while it’s fine to spend money on dinner and drinks once in a while, if it becomes a weekly habit then you’re not going to feel all that minimal.
It’s about finding a balance and that is one of the biggest challenges of being a minimalist.
This might make minimalism sound boring. I assure you it’s not. Minimalism is all about intentionality. And while it may be difficult to express this need to others, so long as you overcome the challenges, you’ll be fine.
I’m curious to hear about any ups and downs you’ve had in your simple living journey. In what ways does being a minimalist challenge you? Are you the only minimalist in your family or group of friends? How do you balance intentionality with experience? Comment below.