Minimal exteriors exude a sense of self-reliance. Great swathes of space, in simple and small settings; one set of cutlery, one rail for clothing, one simple existence. Dependence upon less, with no need for excess. The white and tan furnishings with spacious shelves and simple tables aren’t simply a display of less, but rather a display of no need for more.
There’s no coincidence that many of us involved in minimalism found it at a time when life was turbulent. Documentaries proclaim that minimalism has healing effects on our mental wellbeing, but how much of this comes down to the ultimate sensation that we are moving beyond material needs which now feel fearful to us. Some of us are afraid to rely on anything, on anyone. Things which once gave us comfort, we now feel a deep distrust towards. We no longer want to be reliant on anything. We reject it, cast it out, and claim the ultimate self-reliance in its place.
When we experience a great and dramatic letdown in life, a severe pain, or even a trauma, we lean into something which makes things feel as though they can be different. From dyeing hair, to buying a new wardrobe, to minimising everything we own- we tend towards making drastic change after drastic discomfort. After loss, we may hoard, or we may minimise. Loss often highlights either a great need for more, or a great need for less. The only difference between the two is how we are experiencing the space around us.
Those of us with a somewhat chaotic family life may be more likely to run down the minimalist path through fear of reliance. Some of the most well-known teachers in minimalism have spoken on familial issues and trauma. When we learn, over the course of many years, that even those closest to us are unreliable figures- flawed and complicated, capable of causing harm even without intent- we are likely to reject opportunities to rely on things, or people, in the future.
But, is this a problem? Surely self-reliance is a good thing, a sign of confidence and inner strength? The issue comes when we may even begin to reject those things, or people, which provide stability in our lives. The issue comes when we must inevitably rely upon things and people in order to live within society in a healthy way.
Reliance upon some things can be a beneficial and beautiful part of life. It can mean coexisting, working together, and having a functional space with useful and beautiful possessions. To minimise successfully, we must first ask ourselves why, we must find joy in minimising, rather than fear.
Are you afraid to rely on things? How will you reconsider minimalism in future?
Featured image: Jake Campbell via Unsplash.