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The Minimalists

Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus write about living a meaningful life with less stuff for 4 million readers. As featured on: ABC, CBS, NBC, BBC, TODAY, NPR, TIME, Forbes, The Atlantic, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and National Post. They live in Missoula, Montana.

Minimalism Scares the Shit Out of Me

Minimalism scares the shit out of you, doesn’t it? You’re worried you’ll get rid of stuff you’ll need later. You’re worried what your friends, your family, your co-workers, and your neighbors will think of you. You’re worried you’ll lose your identity, your status, and everything you’ve given meaning to in your life.

Me, too. Minimalism still scares the shit out of me.

I know there are many people who are as scared as me, and I’m here to tell you that’s okay.

I have always been the type of person who puts his whole heart into his beliefs. When I take on a particular ideal or way of life, I make the most of it. I do this to a fault. I have such high expectations of myself that I often expect perfection, which is probably why I stress out easier than most, why I have more anxiety than most.

On top of the expectations, a lot of people around me love to point out every “non-minimal” thing I have in my life. They love to talk about how I own a condo, wear nice shoes, and have a nice haircut (yes, someone actually brought up my haircut), and the list goes on and on. But these people are only projecting. They feel as though I’m judging them because I don’t live the way they do anymore.

You might be thinking, Ryan, why do you care what people think? It’s not about my caring as much as these people reaffirming negative things I already think about myself (with the exception of my haircut, which I’m quite fond of, thank you very much). I’m aware there are many things in my life I still need to minimize. The simplifying process, like life, is ever-changing. Minimalism is fluid. As our circumstances change, our versions of the simple life must change, too.

The beautiful thing about minimalism is there is no right or wrong, there is no pace at which you must live your life, and there is nothing that says “this is how you have to live.” Minimalism is a journey, and it is scary for everyone.

Read this essay and 150 others in our new book, Essential.