A while ago I got an e-mail from a reader who asked me to post on what others around me thought when we first adopted minimalism. It isn’t a bad question (and I am sorry it took so long to get it in the posting schedule). What Will People Think!?!
Somehow in society we are taught to ‘dress for success’ but then not to worry about what people think. How does this fit together?
When adopting minimalism, asking the question ‘What will people think?’ is very real.
What will people think?
- What will people think if I start selling stuff?
- What will people think if I get rid of X (fill in the blank)?
- What will people think if I downsize? Sell my house?
I have (mostly) nice friends so I can’t really tell you exactly what people thought of our downsizing but I can say that two common thoughts were?
- Are they short of money?
- Are they crazy?
The money one is probably the most common. (crazy was probably established before this point ;))
It make sense right? Someone adopting minimalism looks the same as someone who is being foreclosed on (or should because even then some people can’t part with their stuff… but that is another topic)
I think there were (are still) people worried about the kids. It is deeply rooted in our society that kids need their own bedroom and lots of toys. Not specifically lots of toys, but they need one of everything to make them happy and that ends up being lots.
Another thing closely associated with being short of money is our societies picture of failure. If someone can’t own the big full house, with lots of full garages, than they are failing in life.
So adopting minimalism can have others thinking you:
- are short of money
- terrible parent
- a failure
There are probably people out there who think all these things of us. To me the hardest is the terrible parent one, but they are all embarrassing and disturbing.
The good news is that most friends and family – people we care about – don’t think this. They probably had more questions than they voiced while we were going through the process but I think it is okay to expect that. Try something new, anything new, and people will wonder what is going on.
In fact, we have helped inspire people to cut back. Often in conversation people tell me about how they are wanting to cut back or asking questions about adopting minimalism. This is exciting to me!
It is interesting to me, how in society, we want so desperately to fit in but admire and follow those who don’t. We are careful about what we say or how we dress so it doesn’t stand out or offend anyone, but we admire people who have clear opinions. We try to cover all our bases and be balanced (or as close as we can get) but we admire those who give their all to a cause or a talent or a dream.
None of this is wrong or right, it is just the world we live in.
To tie it all together I think you should totally adopt minimalism as it fits you and your family best. I think anyone and everyone would benefit with minimalism in their things, their schedule, and their mind. Everyone is different and everyone’s version of minimalism would be different.
If you do try and change what you are doing on a small scale (like changing your hairstyle) or on a larger scale (like selling everything you own and moving to Africa) people will think about you differently. Probably worse at first, but there is a decent chance they just need to wrap their mind around it and might like the idea later.
I think it is good to ask ‘What Will People Think?” and be ready for some questions, but PLEASE don’t let it stop you from living the life you want. No one else defines success for you! Only you do! It is far better to be a failure in everyone else’s eyes and die a success and happy with your life than die after making everyone else happy.
Have people thought you were crazy (or worse) when you made a change and then come around and liked the idea later? (if you are reading RSS or on currents join us in the comments)
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