I’ve mentioned a few times that I intended to discuss all of the things I have been getting rid of more in-depth, and today is the beginning of those posts.
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“I’ve never known a girl with a messy room before. This is awesome.”
“Are you like, a hoarder?”
“Oh, just give it to Kelley, she’ll take it home.”
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a lot of things. Not necessarily any things in particular, just stuff. A lot of it. As a kid, I collected anything I had two of. Bookmarks, bouncy balls, plastic dog toys, porcelain dalmatians, puppets, ribbons, Beanie Babies, you name it. I had one, so I might as well have them all. My small room felt even smaller, as every nook, cranny and wall space was covered in items. I was never able to keep the area clean, as there was just too much to fit in the space. There was nowhere for it to go but on the floor, under the dresser, under the bed, and on and under my desk and my bookshelf and shelves and everywhere else.
The situation was frustrating, of course. And my cleaning techniques were slow and methodical, often leading to what my parents liked to call “sorting pencils”. I got bogged down in the details. I made little progress. This commonly resulted in the trash-bag style cleanout, where my folks would come in and load up what they could in to bags and remove it from the room. This was pretty devastating for me, as I felt very connected to everything. However, they usually became annoyed halfway through and just left the bags in my room, so I just pulled my items out of the bags and put them back in to place. (Sometimes this “place” was still on the floor — but for the most part I tended to know where everything was.)
I’d like to note, I come from a family of “pack-rats”, going back probably generations. (I’m sure some aspect of this carried over from The Great Depression, but that’s besides the point.) I’m not the odd man out in this situation. This behavior comes out of habit; not spite. It certainly wasn’t as though I were the only one in the house with a lot of stuff; but in this I can speak only for myself and my own experiences.
In high school, I found a book about clearing out clutter, and was able to remove 8 trash bags of stuff from my room. It was a huge relief. And this set me on a path that I’ve been going down for about the last 15 years, trying to get rid of excess and somehow find myself in a relaxing space, while managing my own shopping and spending habits somewhere in between.
I’ve read book after book after book. I watched tons of “Hoarders” on TV. And though I’ve never been that bad; never had that much stuff — I could absolutely relate to the person who knew where every single item came from, how they were feeling that day, and how much they’d paid for it. And to the feeling of having someone else come in and pull your things away from you. It’s devastating. Since striking out on my own, I’ve never had so many things that my space was unlivable. But I can and will admit that my household has been in disarray often, and there are many items that I have had (and still have at this moment) that did not have homes.
And after picking up this book, I’ve finally found the technique. I don’t need any more books. I don’t need any more TV shows. Marie Kondo has shown me the light.
The KonMari method is based on keeping items that bring you joy. JOY. There is no other determination. You touch each item and decide based on how it makes you feel.
This is my first success story. There is no relapse after this; there is no more stuff to get rid of. For the first time, I’ve found the way to discard items without feeling like something was lost, or feeling disappointed, or anxious. The KonMari method puts me in total control and allows me to have the final say. I make the decision, not some arbitrary date of when an item was last touched or used. Some almighty author doesn’t get to decide how much I care about my things, and how much time I spend sorting each subset of each item.
This is all new to me, but so far it’s been amazing. Over the holidays when I was off work, at home, taking care of Honey, I finished the book, and started in the order she recommends. She suggests going through your clothing first, and today I’ll discuss the first part of that process (I’ll follow up with the rest later). Feeling that this was going to be a big shift, I decided to take photos and keep records. I began with my tops.
Marie Kondo suggests that all items of one category must come out at one time. They must all be sorted at once. This not only allows you to make informed decisions, but for me, it also really brought my attention to the sheer number of things that I’d accumulated.
I had 220 tops. I couldn’t believe it. That’s more than any one human needs at one time. This included tanks, sweaters, t-shirts, blouses — all of it. Still, 220. I looked at the pile and felt both determined and ashamed. I’m happy to say that after my tidying session I’m down to 82 tops. Each one of them brings me joy in its own way. And though I felt a little anxious after parting with them, this was the first time that I’d bagged up my clothing and not felt compelled to go back through the bags. I let them go. I thanked them for their time, their lessons, and released them.
I questioned myself through the process; “Which of these feelings is joy?” I made myself a “maybe” pile. But I could tell, then, when I looked at the items I’d picked out first, the must keeps, I knew which items brought me joy and which did not. The process got easier and easier, and I became lighter and freer as I went on.
And I began to learn things about myself, like what my personal style truly is. And in addition to that, why I bought certain items but never wore them. It’s something for me to keep in the back of my head now, going forward — I’ll make more informed decisions when I do go out and shop. (And I already have. I’ve considered my available space and my tastes more, and I think it’s already made a difference.)
I folded all the tops based on her recommendations as well, and I love it. I can see everything, and now I have an idea and a picture in my head of what I own. This helps me know what might fit if I buy something new. And the hanging tops in my closet, for the first time in my life, have space between the hangers. The clothes can breathe. And I can see them.
I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to get across what a huge deal it is to me to get rid of these things, and not only to get rid of them, to let them go and not look back. I don’t miss any of the items, and with each purge I feel liberated; clearer and more focused on my goals. I’m not looking at anything that needs cleaning, or sorting, or wishing things were easier to put away or to organize. It’s all there, it’s done, and the cleaning effort that usually felt so daunting is now easy and smooth, and completely stress-free. I’m more excited and determined than ever to release the items I have here that hold no joy for me. And I can’t wait to bring you with me on my KonMari journey.