My type of clutter

fountain pens in leather case

More than five years ago, I learned about minimalism.

It all began when I chanced upon a documentary on Netflix about the beauty of owning less. Just a few minutes into it, I already realized how burdened I had been by all my material possessions, especially the hundreds (or maybe even close to a thousand) of books I’d been desperately holding on to.

Because my willpower was strong and I was craving some kind of a do-over, I managed to drastically lessen my possessions in just a matter of months. I threw away things I was no longer using, sold and donated a huge portion of my book collection, and got rid of clothes I had no plans of wearing again.

At the same time, I started a tradition of purging, during which I’d simply ask myself whether certain things inside my home still sparked joy or not anymore. Anything deemed unnecessary would be let go of.

Things went on so smoothly that I was able to welcome 2019 with only a few possessions.

It continued to the point that Tim and I needed only one van to transport all our things when we moved into a new apartment in early 2020.

But then the pandemic struck. Probably bored with the lockdowns, I suddenly became interested in a lot of things, including fountain pens.

At first, I thought one would be enough. However, just a few weeks after getting my very first fountain pen, a matte charcoal Lamy Safari with a fine nib, I caught myself looking at other fountain pens to buy. And the rest is history.

I also realized that such pens required special notebooks, so I had to get new ones, too. At some point, I heard of the Traveler’s Notebook (TN). It didn’t take long before I got one for myself.

Before I knew it, I was already looking at photos of TN spreads on Pinterest. They all looked amazing and I thought I should make my notes and journal pages look great as well. How? Well, by using stickers and washi tapes.

I already had some washi samples at home back then. A few months prior, I volunteered to buy washi tape rolls and a nice washi tape organizer for my partner’s friend. They were having an exchange gift in their college org and the person whose name he had randomly picked turned out to be a huge washi tape fan. Since I had just gotten into online shopping at the time and was very much excited to explore Shopee further, I thought scouring the platform for the best washi tape deals would be fun.

However, I made a huge mistake at some point and ordered some washi tape samples instead of getting full rolls. Unfortunately, I could no longer cancel my order, so I just decided to keep them for myself. They had nice designs, anyway; using them on my notebooks would not hurt at all. Little did I know, I’d also fall into the washi tape rabbit hole in a few months.

My newfound love for washi tapes rekindled another passion I never thought would emerge again: my love for stickers.

I had a wild stationery and sticker collection as a kid. Although we were always struggling financially, my father, who at the time was living with his second family and holding a high-paying job in a bank, spoiled me with school and art supplies, and stationery sets. He also let me buy a lot of sticker flakes and sheets. I can’t remember how I lost interest in my collection, but it just happened. I guess I just became too busy with school and extra co-curricular activities, particularly those involving our school paper, that it slowly lost its magic on me. Or, perhaps, I just became more dependent on computers and fell in love with the simplicity of plain notebooks and pads.

Now I can’t believe I am crazy for stickers again. There are even moments when I feel like an elementary kid again, marveling at all the sticker designs available at the stationery store. The only difference now is that I’m already a grownup with a regular source of income and a stable Internet connection that allows me to order whatever I want with just a click. In other words, I can easily turn all my sticker fantasies into reality now, and, considering all the stickers I now have in my collection, I can tell that I’m on the right track.

All these things are making me happy, especially now that I’ve been stuck at home and mostly bored with the repetitiveness of everything. It is also nice to be excited about things that are new to me as well as those that I used to love as a kid. However, I also acknowledge the fact that what I am doing is against the very thing I started embracing just a few years ago. In fact, I’m pretty sure my wannabe-minimalist self from over five years ago would cringe upon the sight of all the fountain pens, notebooks, washi tape rolls, and sticker sets I’ve managed to accumulate these past few months.

At the same time, I won’t deny that though the things I’m so crazy about right now are against what I used to believe in, they actually help keep my sanity intact. They keep me away from the computer, too, which is a good thing because the first lockdown really kept me glued to the screen almost 24/7. And, most importantly, they remind me that no matter how shitty we may feel about ourselves and our current circumstances, we are still capable of creating something beautiful — even just in the form of journal pages that are decorated and written on.

So I guess, for now, I’ll just go with the flow and be a little kinder to myself. The things I’m currently fond of — or obsessed with — may be considered clutter, but they are my type of clutter. And they continue to spark joy in me amid these trying times.

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