About a month, to be exact.
In that time, I’ve been moving all of my things back to my hometown. I don’t take walks anymore, but I’d like to reincorporate that. I also don’t food log, although I plan on continuing again. Perhaps I should include more details about caloric content and macros. Mm… that’s a real pain to track. I have a food scale, but I eat a lot of things that can’t be found on the meal tracking apps that I’ve used. Do I really have to count calories in order to eat well? Can’t I simply track what I do eat from day to day and incorporate small, sustainable changes to my diet based on what I eat? Speaking of which, that’s a good idea for a future entry. Reviewing my previous food log entries in bulk, commenting on trends, and brainstorming ideas for further improvement.
I’ve finally donated several items and am about to donate several more. What I’m doing is pretty far and away from what I’ve read in Marie Kondo’s “The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up,” specifically that I’m taking way too long to clean my things. But I’ve been working on really justifying my decisions to throw away certain things. I still have several items that I wish to donate or throw out, but I’m making steps to detangle my emotions from my possessions. I don’t want to be attached to things that I don’t even use or hardly remember that I’ve had. Sure, some things are useful and necessary to keep, but what about the things that I’m not sure I have plans or am interested in using in the future? Otherwise, they just become reminders of things that I haven’t done, which is Really Stressful (see YouTuber Wheezywaiter’s video on cleaning, he’s great).
Am I a cleaning master? Far from it. But I’m passionate about cleaning. When people ask me what I’m up to, I’m usually doing some protracted version of cleaning where I muster the courage to face my poor financial decisions from x years ago and try not to take my mistakes personally. This is a harsh way of looking at it. I’m usually very happy with the items that I’ve bought or am given. I’m always cleaning because when I come home from work or school, I find myself too ruled by my weariness to properly tidy. Now that I’m finally finding a place for all the things that I truly like, I find that I’m feeling a bit lighter in mood. The mere act of rearranging and decorating my space helps me feel more at home with my living spaces. It’s an act of self-respect and care when I do these things. It’s a statement that I deserve a place I can call mine and can truly relax and work in. I can experiment and express myself on my own terms. My room won’t belong in any magazines, nor will I necessarily earn compliments from my friends or family when they see it. But that’s okay. This room is for me.
In this incredibly ramble entry, I will outline some tips for decluttering and staying tidy. I find that I can be very hard on myself when I’m going through my things, and I’d like to encourage a more gentle, positive, and lighter approach to this necessary task. I will outline them in list format.
1. If your room is crazy levels of messy, you may feel overwhelmed, so you may not be sure where to start. I was this person. In my head, I heard the disappointed and exasperated voice of my mother who criticized me for spending so much on so many unnecessary little things. Pay no mind to this voice. In fact, talk back to it for being such a negative Nancy. I’m happy and proud of you for embarking on such a difficult task! Cleaning can be life-changing, but if that idea puts too much pressure on you, think of it as just another chore. This is not supposed to make you feel bad as a person. This is a way to treat yourself right, to give yourself a space you really feel happy in. So let’s have some fun while we do it! Let some sun in, play your favorite upbeat music in the background, light your favorite candle, and let your loved ones know you will be out of commission for the next few hours. If you wanna know what I listened to, I personally really enjoyed Childish Gambino’s latest album (3.15.20). It’s amazing. And listening to music I like is the easiest and fastest way to lift my mood.
2. One of the things Marie Kondo got 100% right was that we should DEFINITELY not let our parents see what we throw out, especially our moms. They will want to salvage what they can from our things or even guilt for what we’re throwing out. This will obfuscate our own loyalty to the visions we create for our spaces. Sort out what you want to throw out in non-transparent bags and quietly donate them.
3. Take breaks. If you’re starting to get tired of what you’re doing, that’s a sign that you need a break or at least do something different. Marie Kondo really expounded upon the necessity of having sweeping, dramatic change in your living space in order to shock you into the momentum needed to live your dream life, so she recommends making this deep clean as swift as possible, possibly in a weekend, but no more than a week. I’ve super broken this rule, since deep cleaning is taking literal Y E A R S for me, but that’s okay. I was living between two cities and was going through a monster of a grad school program. I was also dealing with some demons of my own and in my closest relationships that took a lot of time to defuse and untangle. When you’re not feeling at peace with your life, cleaning can feel like the last thing on your list of priorities. I should be clear and say that cleaning won’t solve all of your problems. If you have shitty relationships, they will unfortunately still be shitty after you finish cleaning. I weirdly expected cleaning to do everything for me, and when I wasn’t seeing the change that I wanted, I felt like quitting in both aspects. Don’t quit though. Do what you need to do first to quiet the unrest in your relationships and life, and tell yourself that you’re doing the best you can, especially if the change that you want isn’t happening. It takes time to repair relationships. And you can’t neglect your most important relationship: the one with yourself, which no one can do for you. So take that break! Take as long as you need, and have compassion for yourself by being aware of whatever extenuating circumstances that you’re in. Cleaning is nice, but do what you need to do in order to keep earning your bread.
4. When cleaning, things will sometimes get even messier before they get cleaner. Which is just like a lot of things in life, unfortunately. Try not to let the parental units see this, as you lay out all of your things on your bed (i used to do it on the floor as the book recommended, but that personally stressed me out). They will tut-tut in disappointment and disapproval. If they do see it though, don’t let it get to you. This is your stuff, your space. Just do your thing.
5. Take the time you need to categorize and decide what is worth keeping. If it’s necessary, useful, or beautiful/delightful to you, keep them, especially if you use that thing often. If you’ve never used it, consider giving it away to someone you think would actually enjoy it. Otherwise, find a place to store it. Ideally, the fewer things you have to store away, the better. Because the more things sit in storage, the more likely they will be neglected, based on my own history with my things. If you must store, keep your storage containers clear and labeled so you can readily find its contents in the event that you need them.
6. Gifts or mementos from others are the HARDEST thing to sort out. I like to appreciate what people have given me, often even more so than what I give to myself, even if I might like what I’ve given myself more. But then I notice how people are surprised that I still own things that they’ve given me. Or that they treat the gifts I’ve given them way more lightly than I’ve treated theirs. Lol, this is probably serious chiisana thinking. But definitely don’t take it personally. If something isn’t useful or delightful to you anymore, thank the person and object, and let it go. I used to be in the camp that wanted to keep all of my mementos, good and bad, as a way of honoring all of my memories. For example, gifts or photos from former S/Os. I’ve never had to cut ties until I started dating. It’s difficult, but sometimes you need to properly close that chapter on your life by bidding goodbye to the objects that belonged to that chapter. They no longer reflect the current you. Because if those memories are important to me, then I can write about those memories or even just have the memories themselves be the mementos I need of those times. I don’t need anything else. Marie Kondo put it best: if a memory is important to you, you will remember it. Otherwise, you can write about it or scrapbook it if you have mental conditions that make remembering difficult for you. But I find that my own memory can be pretty good when it comes to that typa thing. So I’ve thanked the gifts and mementos I no longer found delightful and let them go. And felt a curious wave of peace as I did so.
7. A funny thing that I’ve noticed is that the more things I throw away, the more clearly I realize what is most important to me. Take care not to pass judgment on yourself in this process. These things are uniquely specific to you, and it doesn’t make sense to compare your process or self to others. Your room or space doesn’t need to look like it belongs on Instagram or in a magazine or airbnb. It just needs to be a space that allows you to live joyfully in it. You can treat yourself as lavishly or as simply as you wish, as long as it is all in honor and respect to yourself.
Forgive me if this all sounds pretty preachy, but I personally Need this validation.
8. If you’re supporting a family or are tight on cash, some hoarding is okay. But try to minimize this. The lack of space can be stress-inducing. Try not to buy items that you won’t use right away. Otherwise they’re, again, just reminders of things that you Aren’t doing.
That’s all. I’ll update this later and probably refurbish it, but thanks for reading this far. Happy Spring Cleaning, and stay safe out there, folks.