Sarah Anne Writes

how i became a minimalist

SimplicitySarah Anne HayesComment

I grew up as a military brat, the daughter of a naval submariner. Until the age of 12, we moved every 2-3 years, which meant we took stock of our lives and our possessions and rid ourselves of the excess as we prepared for our newest destination.

If I'm honest, I hated it. I hated moving. I hated packing up our life and having to let go of people and places and things.

Perhaps because of growing up in that environment, I rebelled against the idea that I had to let go of things. Instead, I was an advocate for more — more things, more activities, more time, more people, more books, more adventures. More of anything and everything you could throw at me. As a people-pleaser, I didn't know how to say no, but I didn't really want to either. 

Simultaneously blessed and cursed with an interest in and aptitude for a variety of different things, I was always trying new activities and filling my calendar as full as my parents would allow. When I was finally old enough to control my calendar for myself, it meant one thing — I didn't really know how to control it. I simply filled it up, never stopping to think about how detrimental saying "yes" to so many things could be.

I spent most of my college and early post-grad life insanely busy. I prided myself on my ability to function on only four hours of sleep. There was no greater compliment than being told how amazing it was that I got so much done, that I could "do it all." 

This desire for more eventually produced a restlessness that came to a head at the start of 2014. I was frustrated with so many areas of my life — my job, my living situation, my relationships — but I didn't know what to do or how to change them. I spent January 1 on the couch, still recovering from a cold that had killed my New Year's Eve plans, surrounded by books, my Bible, my journal, and an endless supply of hot tea.

I prayed the smallest and biggest prayer of my life that day: "Lord, teach me to trust You."

Within a month, I'd accepted a new job in a small town in northeast Georgia and by May I had packed up my entire life and moved from the Washington D.C. metro area down south. I settled into my job, my apartment, my routine, not yet noticing how different life was in Georgia.

Four months after arriving, I found myself packing up my belongings again and moving across town to a new place with new roommates. Right around that time, I began reading the book 7 by Jen Hatmaker. That was the tipping point.

The book punched me in the gut. Surrounded by boxes of stuff, overwhelmed by the excess in my life, I started making steps toward change. I began reading and researching and in the spring of 2015, I took the first tangible step — purging my closet. In one afternoon, I more than halved my wardrobe. And in that one afternoon, I felt so much lighter.

In the months that followed, I continued to declutter my home and purge it of excess. I went through my office, my bookshelves, my bedroom, my living room, and my closet twice more.

The more I decluttered my home, the more I felt an increasing lightness in my physical space that transformed into a desire for lightness in the rest of my life. I began decluttering my digital spaces — deleting files I no longer needed, unfollowing hundreds of people on Instagram and Twitter, unsubscribing from numerous emails and blogs.

Again, the more I decluttered, the more the desire for simplicity in every aspect of my life grew. I simplified my schedule by saying no to things that didn't make my heart sing. I researched fast fashion, ethical fashion, and simplified beauty products. I donated and sold over 1000 items.

I kept saying I was on a "minimalist kick," but after two years, it's no longer a kick. It's a lifestyle change I intend to keep forever.

Somewhere along the way, people started asking me questions. How did I curate my wardrobe? How did I decide what was the right number of things to keep? How did I declutter my home while still keeping a sense of style and coziness? How did I keep my life organized and myself sane even during seasons of busyness?

I have always loved helping people. As an Enneagram Type 2, also known as "The Helper," my primary need is to be needed.

As I continued to see how an increase in simplicity only added positive things to my life, and how so many of my friends and family seemed to have an increasing desire to simplicity, I wanted to do whatever I could to help. It is out of that desire — to encourage, inspire, and help others on their journey toward simplicity in whatever way I can — that I will be sharing this part of my life on the blog.

I know simplicity isn't the answer to everything and I also know there are times in our lives when things look or feel like simplicity is an impossibility. But I do believe we're living life at a faster pace than we were ever meant to and I believe it's negatively impacting us far more than we realize.

I hope by me sharing my journey, you can find the encouragement you need to slow down, to say no to the unnecessary, and to build a life that's intentionally crafted for you to give your best to the world and the people in your life.