I’m currently in the middle of sorting out my most recent heap of Ikea bags dragged in from the garage. Filled with haphazard attempts at flat homeware, leftover neon fancy-dress, questionable style choices and mounds of memorabilia from over 5 years of student flat moves, I’m feeling stuck. I’m looking at the amount that I have amassed over the years. I’m feeling bad for buying these things that I don’t feel fit my style now, for buying things because I remember how I felt on that day when I needed to buy a pick-me-up, and for buying things that I am now referring to as just ‘things’ in this post because I can’t see where they fit into my life now. Despite this, I’m finding it hard to keep piling the charity bags higher.
Everyday, all I think about is whittling down my possessions. I’m trying to carve out a space for myself surrounded by clothes and objects that might help me feel like 25-year-old who knows themselves better than these older purchases suggest. I’m constantly sorting through Ikea bags (the moving bag of choice) to the extent that I’ve now named my daily ritual as ‘moving things around’ whenever I’m asked what I’ve been up to. The idea of sorting your stuff out is that you shouldn’t have to spend time every day attending to it once it’s all organised. It should be laid out and ready for action. So why is it so difficult to jump into action with letting things go?
I love the idea of eventually having a capsule wardrobe with a set number of items every season like the Unfancy blog below. Imagine being able to make one jumper work for 28 (ish) different outfits and fitting everything you own onto a nice clean marble surface (or something along those lines). One day, one day.
For now, I’ve been listening to The Minimalists’ podcasts for around 17 weeks, and picked up 2 of their novels in an attempt to solidify their positive message. (Everything That Remains and Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life by Joshua Fields Milburn and Ryan Nicodemus). It’s inspiring to take their perspective that the decluttering process isn’t the end goal. Their tips and stories on how to declutter are extreamely useful, but Joshua and Ryan go beyond the idea of simply cutting down the number of items you own to call yourself a Minimalist. According to their values, I’ve still got to focus the time that I would spend sorting out clutter on “life’s most important “things”: health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution”.
I feel that I should be moving onto that next step by now and focusing on the more important things. This slow journey feels especially long considering that I picked up Marie Kondo’s ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying’ (reviewed here) earlier last year. As this book suggested, I tried to take on the motto of letting go of things that don’t bring me joy. Whilst this hasn’t quite clicked as a definitive means to make a decision, I have managed to let go of many industrial bin bags to the charity shop on a regular basis. It’s lovely to know that these bags are now raising money and breaking free of the Ikea bag trap…
I’ve recently sorted (and sorted, and sorted) through my clothes and make-up from the last two years since moving back from London. At this point, the problem with these items is that I see them and critique them often. It was about time to delve into the garage, scratch myself on a precariously placed bike, and pull out the bags that I’ve neglected to sort out after one too many flat moves.
…and that’s where I’m stuck. The bags and crates sitting downstairs did give me joy a couple of years ago. The t-shirts and hoodies remind me of the gigs I went to, the university commitments I used to have, and the people I used to spend time with. The stacks of lecture notes and expensive literature books signify that I did study English Literature as a little Fresher, even if I barely talk about it now. After the initial moment of excitement at all this discovery, I’m now left with a sinking feeling that everything I’ve found today has to be put away in a space that’s already occupied with items. It’s either that, or they can retreat back to the safety of the Ikea bag, carted from location to location until I find them again and feel a mix of guilt and nostalgia all over again.
This seems like a dramatic post. Looking back, it does seem overtly dramatic, but that’s how seeing these sentimental items are affecting me just now. It’s not about whether I would still wear that university ski club hoodie, or if I’m bound to don that pair of neon sunglasses anytime soon – I’m just finding it hard to let go of these physical reminders. After spending months listening and reading about minimalism and decluttering, I feel like this should be easier. I should know better about what to do next.
It’s ok. I know that in the grand scheme of things, this really doesn’t matter too much. I’m going to go back downstairs. I’ll try to take pictures of these things so they won’t be lost forever if they go tonight. Even just by writing this down, I’ll think again before everything retreats back to the safety of the garage.