The Problem With Labels: Why I’m Not Really A Minimalist

I know I’ve referred to myself as a minimalist on this blog. I’m not really. I do have every intent to continue to scale down the way I live. I am passionate about spreading the ideology of simple living. But to call myself a minimalist comes with too many dichotomies. This is the problem with labels.

tag-654697_1280 The problem with labels: Photo of an empty black label.

When I created Hip Diggs, I struggled to come up with a subtitle for the blog. I wound up choosing, “Live Simple,” and I’m glad I did. Why? Because it’s an action statement, not a label.  

As a blogger, I’ve been challenged with finding a niche. I went through a handful of niches and titles on a variety of different blogs. Something always felt wrong until Hip Diggs. It was the problem with labels. I was constantly trying to label myself.

Don’t Turn Yourself Into A Label

Labels box us in. They force us to act in ways expected of anyone who calls themselves a minimalist, a republican, or a democrat. Labels create boundaries and division. Especially labels that come with socially-perceived expectations. I even have a hard time calling myself a Christian for this very reason. I prefer to say I believe in Christ.

I call myself a teacher, I call myself a writer. I call myself a musician.

I don’t see those terms as labels. I see them as part of who I am. They are things that I do. They are inherent, my nature. They are actions. But to be a minimalist? What does that suggest that I do? Minimize? Make things smaller? Less important? 

See? It doesn’t work. If I were truly a minimalist, would I write so much? Would I use social media as often as I do? Would I own a 1200-square-foot home and an extra vehicle? No, I would live more minimally. I would continually minimize until I had nothing left. That’s not a bad goal, but it’s a journey, not a definitive. 

Labels Steal Your Freedom

Minimalists talk about gaining freedom by letting go of possessions. I agree that there’s a lot of truth to this idea. But if I call myself a minimalist, I’m locking myself into one box. This doesn’t allow me the flexibility to be all I’m meant to be. I’m more than a minimalist. So are you.

Do you label yourself? Most of us do in one way or another. But think of what that label might be doing. Is it helping you to grow? Is it holding you back? Is it creating a preconceived image of yourself to others? Does it have negative stereotypes attached to it?

No, I’m Not Really A Minimalist

I’ll continue to refer to minimalists and minimalism on this blog as it helps to describe some of the concepts I communicate. I’ll keep my link to my definition of moderate minimalist on my About Page. I’ll support others who use the term minimalism to describe their lifestyle. But I’d rather “Live Simple.” I’d rather help others to live simple. So shed your labels and just live simple.

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  1. Thoroughly enjoyed reading this post, it’s so important not to put ourselves in a box in the discovery of who we are, we’re always changing and evolving. I do believe in ‘simpler living’, becoming more conscious of our actions, possessions and the affect we have on the planet, i also on the other hand enjoy long bath, pretty jewelery and eating out, impossible to put any label on that. We’re all contradictory in our own way 🙂

  2. Hey, this was a good post and I like your conclusion. I read a lot of blogs and sites about minimalism. I am decluttering and purging and working toward having a simplified home. But I would feel like a fraud were I to call myself a minimalist. I don’t think you can call yourself and your husband minimalists when you own a 1600 square foot home on an acre and a half with a 24′ by 50′ garage/ shop combo and a seperate 12′ by 20′ shop, a second home on the property that’s 1400 square feet, a car, truck and motorcycle, flatbed trailer, tractor, riding lawnmower and weed eater, etc. But, when you take into consideration that it’s family property, it’s all paid off, the youngest vehicle is 12 years old and you have 5 adults, one child and numerous animals living here and sharing all of these things…..well, it starts blurring the lines a little bit. Between the five adults we do woodworking, welding, plumbing, simple electrical, motorcycle rebuilding, simple car repairs, some upholstery work, sewing, quilting, remodeling, painting (walls, furniture, cabinets, etc), painting (art), cooking from scratch…..we’re a DIY, refurbish, renew, reinvent and reuse family!

    So, we don’t use paper towels or napkins, we make our own clothes detergent, use vinegar as a fabric softener and to clean with, we cook from scratch for the most part, thrift a lot of our clothes rather than purchasing new, don’t have cable or smart phones, repair old vehicles instead of buying new, do our own house repairs…….

    We’re a family who lives simply and trys to reduce our carbon footprint….. would you say we “live simple”? Lol! As human beings I believe we have an inborn need to name, label and categorize things and are uncomfortable if we can’t find a niche to fit into. Still looking for mine.

    1. Hi Kim! Thanks for commenting. I also own a house, and I also do a lot of my own work on it. I’m prepping to paint now. When we live simply as homeowners we need the tools to take care of what we own. Unless one owns a tiny house, I’m not sure you can get away with being a minimalist by its common definition if you own a home and raise a family. But you can still live simply!

  3. Interesting post … I can definitely see your point about labels and how they can be limiting. However, I call myself a minimalist.

    I think it works for me because I’m happy redefining my labels to work for me (if that makes sense!) For example, I define minimalism being someone who decides to be intentional about what things (possessions, people, ideas) they include in their life, which I know is a little different from the traditional definition 🙂

    1. I think the label can work, Jennifer. You make good points about what minimalism means to you. Many say it’s each to their own, that we define minimalism for our own circumstances. I think I’d rather say I adhere to some minimalist values rather than to describe myself as a minimalist. But this is what makes us all unique. We can choose. Thanks for you comment.

  4. Thank you for this post. I struggled with the term minimalist because for so many it seems to become a competitive sport. I’ve never had that competitive nature and it made me feel like I was failing. I’ve practiced frugality and simplicity for the past 25 years. Living simply is what works for me and I will return to that “label” now. Thanks again!

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