Minimalism: The New Path to Happy for Brown Girls

It’s been three years since I replaced the tradition of creating bucket list or New Year’s resolutions with giving every New Year a theme. For some, this could be viewed as a matter of splitting hairs, but not for me. Choosing a yearly theme inevitably guides you not only to do, but also to feel—something that I had woefully overlooked in my frenzy to cross things off my never-ending to-do list or ever-growing outlandish bucket list.

The Year of Shed

My first year of themes was the Year of Shed. It’s my most memorable, not because it was my first, but because it was my most transformative, for no other reason than committing to shed drove me, well, to shed— remove anyone and everything that I didn’t want in my life so I could make better use of that newfound empty space.

It’s no coincidence that my year committed to shedding was the year I embraced the concept of minimalism. Minimalism is a response to a First World addiction to consumption, things, and overstimulation, which I was guilty of to a degree. I was a low-key shopaholic and low-key hoarder. I tried to rationalize that I wasn’t “doing too much” because I loved to thrift shop or attend clothing swaps. But whether new clothes, old clothes, gentle worn handbags or brand spanking new clutches, consumption is consumption is consumption.

I found myself consistently trying to cleanse my closet or go a shopping diet for a month, only to binge-buy once my spending curfew was lifted. It was an insane way to live. The buy-purge cycle. The shop-sell-donate triangle was exhausting.

And this necessarily wasn’t about the money that I was spending because truthfully, I had already stabilized my finances, eliminated my student loan debt, and founded The Frugal Feminista, a site that helps brown girls like me learn about money.

It was about finding purpose and living intentionally. It was about being mindful and observant of what an urge to shop really meant. It was being ruthless with my questioning and compassionate when I heard the honest answers. It was about learning how to be comfortable with gaps and space. It was about learning to love the silence that space and gaps bring in my external surrounding and internal sanctuary.

Breaking Up with the Broken Narrative

Embracing minimalism has been an exercise in welcoming feelings of ease, contentment, and fullness into my life—three feelings, which I admit, were not the most comfortable feelings to let in.

Even though I had grown used to the broken narrative of equating being a black girl with struggle, and though I initially resisted the possibilities of happiness that a life of minimalism showed, I knew my initial hesitation was fear and would be short-lived. I pushed myself to live up to the new expectation and new narrative that I, as a brown girl, could be happy, with less. That I, as a brown girl, could trust my instincts to know when it was okay to buy and when I was using shopping and clutter as a distraction from doing some internal work.

Minimalism is the new path to happiness for brown girls. I’m convinced. My life, my relationships, and bank account are proof of it.

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