Journalism sophomore Monique Ejenuko’s desk in her bedroom is only topped with things she needs. Jake Erickson | Mustang News

Many college students come back to cluttered, messy rooms every day, rooms filled with notebooks, clothes and everything in between. However, when journalism sophomore Monique Ejenuko walks into her Poly Canyon Village apartment bedroom, she is calmed by her clear and clean living space, thanks to her newfound minimalist lifestyle.

“I spent countless days coming to my dorm stressed, only to meet a cluttered bed when all I really wanted was to go to sleep,” Ejenuko said. “Some of my favorite YouTubers gave tours of their minimalist apartments and that peaked my interest.”

The term “minimalism” originates from an art movement in the 1950s and ‘60s and was used in other artistic mediums like music.

Studio art assistant professor Sara Frantz explained the basic, artistic definition
of minimalism.

“It’s essentially the most basic elements,” Frantz said. “The removal of the human touch or any presence of the human hand.”

However, while some call the minimalist lifestyle “post-minimalism,” Franz said it is completely separate from the
artistic meaning.

Going minimalist

Ejenuko decided to try living a minimalist lifestyle recently. She wasn’t happy with her freshman year and thought a new lifestyle would be a good way to reinvent herself.

She began to get rid of her clutter by starting with smaller, easier items.

“I started with old school work, mostly,” Ejenuko said. “It’s much easier to trash a study guide than it is clothing or clunky sentimental items. Popular minimalist blogs suggest asking yourself, ‘Will I use this soon? If not, does it bring joy to me?’”

Though it was easy to start with schoolwork, Ejenuko said she found certain things, like clothing, more difficult to get rid of.

“I enjoy the idea of having an insane amount of cute outfits,” Ejenuko said. “Sometimes I’ve justified [keeping] tops or bottoms that I’ve outgrown, hoping I’d fit into it eventually.”

Monique believes her bedroom is where her minimalist lifestyle is most apparent as it shows a calm and clear living space. Jake Erickson | Mustang News

Now that she’s cleared out so much of her room, it’s a lot easier for her to clean. She said her room used to take days to clean, but now it only takes 30 minutes to an hour. She also said it’s easier to find things in her room because she doesn’t have to go through so many things.

Outside perspectives on the lifestyle

When she first started developing her minimalist lifestyle, her friends and parents were doubtful and believed that she was merely good at hiding items and shoving things away. However, she said her parents saw the positive impact when they helped her move in her sophomore year and noticed how much lighter her load was compared to the year before.

“I don’t think I inspire anyone unless they see my room, which is where my minimalism is most apparent,” Ejenuko said.

Biological sciences sophomore Marjorie Roca shares a room with Ejenuko. Although Ejenuko has had little clutter from the start, Roca said she’s sometimes still surprised when she looks at Ejenuko’s side of the room.

“It looks like no one has moved into it,” Roca said of Ejenuko’s clear space.

Roca also said she thinks more students, including herself, should try to develop minimalist lifestyles.

“I think it’s excellent especially since, as college students, you can save money and time,” Roca said. “As for me, I think I’m gearing towards it especially in terms of how much clothes I bring.”

Bringing minimalism to the future

While Ejenuko has managed to get rid of visible clutter in her life, she still hopes to clear out other negative aspects in the future.

“I started with my room because it’s a tangible manifestation of my de-cluttering efforts,” Ejenuko said. “I still haven’t touched digital clutter or cutting off negative people from my life. Minimalism doesn’t have to only pertain to physical items. I’ve held on to a lot of negative ideologies that I am still slowly trying to wean off of.”

Ejenuko has heard a lot of misconceptions about minimalism. People believe minimalists get rid of everything in their lives or only live black-and-white lifestyles without any bright colors.

“You are not blindly getting rid of items,” Ejenuko said. “De-cluttering is an intentional process of ‘What do I need?’ and ‘What don’t I need?’ The funniest one [that I’ve heard] is that minimalism is a socially acceptable way to say you’re broke.”

Though minimalism may seem extreme for some college students, Ejenuko recommends starting slowly with items that aren’t sentimental, like school work and groceries.

“Start with mostly non-personal items that usually accumulate over a quarter: old school work and stray flyers,” Ejenuko said. “I found that was a bulk of my clutter. Also, examine your fridge and try to use up your groceries in different recipes or try not duplicating groceries. I’ve seen a lot of food go to waste [in that way].”

She advises students interested in adopting the minimalist lifestyle to learn what minimalism truly is and to not feel pressured to get rid of too many items.

“Minimalism isn’t a competition to have the least amount of items,” Ejenuko said. “It’s keeping items, ideologies … that you actually need, so once you understand that, you are liberated from the pressure of the having the least amount of items.”

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