Why I Started Decluttering My Belongings and My Life

When you’re constantly moving around, it’s easy to get rid of your unnecessary items after every time you move. At one point I moved to four different apartments in just as many years. I once sold almost every piece of furniture I had when I went from living in my own apartment to basically only having my own room. I was unattached to most of my items out of necessity because the less crap that I owned, the less I’d have to schlep across town…again.

Fast forward to when I started this minimalism journey back in late December.

I’ve now been living in the same apartment for roughly three years. In that time, I got a little more lax with my “one item in, one item out” rule I set for myself…and let’s just say that not following this rule really created a sense of disorganization in my life. My closets were stuffed to the max, and my dresser drawers a stack of semi-neat items with items I’ve recently worn shoved in a disarray on top. My bookcase was littered with books I intended to read, books I should have already read (hello grad school), and books that really made me happy.

Items that make me happy. Hmmm.

You see, those items that I genuinely treasured kept getting lost in the chaos of items that didn’t really do anything for me. That textbook that I didn’t actually read thoroughly but spent a fortune on creates feelings of guilt and shame. That clothing from undergrad reminds me of who I used to be…for better and for worse. Those kitchen utensils from a friend who got them for me during my third move in four years, once used daily, now sitting on the bottom shelf–unused for two years. These items stood in the way of my own happiness, of my own freedom of sorts…because even though I became blind to them in my day-to-day, those sentiments attached to those items permeated my life. I needed to become free of that.

I found Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, in a time of my life that was riddled with uncertainty, with chaos of sorts. Although I had the best home life with my person and dogs, I was anxiously awaiting to see whether I landed my first full-time job (after having been on contract/temporary work in academia for 3.5 years), and I was trying to figure out what exactly I wanted out of life. It was December of 2018 when I started reading Marie Kondo’s book, during that two week period my workplace shuts down for the holidays, and I was anxious to do something with my time off. Marie Kondo’s series, Tidying Up, premiered on Netflix that following January. Her book, coupled with the inspiring stories of families who underwent this process, gave me the spark I needed to get the ball rolling with my own belongings.

This will begin a series of posts about how I started to part with things that didn’t really spark joy in my life, and how doing so also lead me to finding and pursuing things in my own life that also sparked joy. Although I’ve gone through a couple of her categories already (clothes kinda; books, mostly; papers, entirely), it’s an ever-evolving process…and as I continue to grow into this new person I’m becoming, I find that I am willing to get rid of even more–leaving room for only the things that really make me happy…both in items and in life. Stay tuned for posts about each category.

4 comments

  1. Love this post! Your process and history with moving and decluttering was fun to read about. Decluttering was both incredibly hard and completely thrilling and exciting for me. Letting my books go was really hard because I was raised by my librarian grandmother and some of my books came from her! 🙂

    Like

  2. OMG did you look in my apartment??? I SO cannot wait to read these. I have so much STUFF (I have to do a post on my theory about stuff and crap.) A lot of it is art I made which while I loved the process, I ended up not being able to give it away, not having a place to display it and feeling a little ill about the idea of decorating with my own art.

    On the other hand, your mention of books really hit me at a visceral level. My book collection is astounding. 500 maybe? But as I got really desperate for money, people keep telling me to sell my rare books. I have a book that’s worth close to $1500. Yeah- that’s one month rent, bills, food…then gone forever. But I can look at that book every day and get little tinglies of Joy. That’s forever.

    But then I also realized there was some hoarding going on – collecting for the sake of collecting. And a bunch of books that had no meaning to me other than filling shelves.

    There’s a really big difference between the two. And as my life has spiraled out of control, so has my apartment and my crap.

    Yeah- I eagerly await the upcoming posts!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I haven’t continued with this series yet. My clothes and books and papers are done—but I haven’t written about the process yet. Nor did I take pictures…so it will mostly be me talking about the process. It was pretty emotional for me…especially my research materials and papers with my mentor who has since passed away.

      I have assessed rare books in my day job previously, so your rare book collection is fascinating to me. If they truly spark joy—then find a cool way to display them. Since I’m writing a personal finance blog, I’d otherwise say to invest those earnings if you sell—because compound interest will make that $1500 worth a heck of a lot more 15-20 years from now. 😉

      I’d love to see a post about your theory regarding stuff sometime!

      Like

      1. I’ll post it tomorrow. I had signed up for a post using the word procrastination. A perfect match.

        I’m willing to wait for all of the installments.

        And I can definitely understand what an emotional experience it must be. I haven’t had the courage to take the 1500 coasters I made for an art show that went over like a lead balloon out to the dumpster. I can’t even give them away. (And if one more person tells me about Johnny’s 5th grade art class working with alcohol in, I may have fantasies of violence.)

        I guess from a financial perspective, selling them all for $1 would have the same affect as selling my beloved books. I don’t display them as nicely as I would like, in part Bc they need to be protected from the environment.

        But there’s also a bit of the secret thrill that people have no idea what it’s worth. The whole collection pushes $6000. But the joy is priceless.

        Like

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