There is this saying in nursing that it is the only profession in which we “eat our young”. That is to insinuate the more tenured, experienced nurses have a habit of mentally / verbally beating down their newer counterparts. To be fair, a large part of this is “tough love” and a heightened awareness to the potential consequences of mistakes made at the hands of overconfident, ready to save the world nurses. Often, these matters really are “life and death”. Not so much, regarding minimalism.
That said, it doesn’t stop us from looking at someone else’s brand of this lifestyle and dictating what qualifies as “minimalist enough”. If we are looking for the absolute end-all-be-all of minimalism, we can pull my name out of consideration right meow. My garage is still a disaster, I still probably own twenty t-shirts (paired down from 4 – 5 times that), and I haven’t yet had the heart to part with the push mower I no longer use. There are probably a hundred other reasons for someone further along in their journey to strip me of the title of “minimalist”. To do so would miss the point, though.
Whether someone’s surroundings project an image of minimalism depends on what is valuable to that individual and where they are on their unique journey. Someone who is on the extreme side of the spectrum might not think someone else is “minimalist enough” based on the fact they have furniture. In the end, minimalism is a continuous journey with no destination. The effort required to reject over-consumption and material idolatry is never-ending. That is not to say that it is tedious or painstaking, but that it requires diligent mindfulness and intentional actions. Then, there is the compromise necessary with partners, kids, et cetera.
In the end, minimalism (especially, in the beginning) is hard. If you are one of the few master Taoists that have finely tuned your inner Zen by living in your stick house, alternating between harvesting beet roots and not creeping people out by venturing out in public adorned in nothing but your loin cloth, congrats. I think I can speak for the rest of us when I say, “We’re not perfect and probably never will be. Get over it.”