I have a very real fear of becoming a hoarder. I don’t want to wind up on some reality show, screaming at people that are throwing my trash out, so I actively try to clean and get rid of things on a regular basis. This was easier the past eight years because I was moving AT LEAST once a year. Now that I’ve got a “grown up job”, I’m staying in one place longer and it’s easier for things to pile up. Going through my list, I found that I’ve put a few things down that involve cleaning and getting rid of stuff.
There’s a fine line between having a lot of stuff and being a hoarder and I continually walk it. I have a lot of things in boxes at my parents’ house still – things from my room that were boxed up when I got “too old” for them, things boxed up from when my room was being painted, things boxed up from my first college apartment. I know what’s in some boxes – Beanie Babies, Baby Sitters Club books, pictures and mementos – but there are plenty of boxes that I don’t know what’s in them and I can only guess – clothes and homework most likely. My parents keep telling me to go through all this stuff but I’m only home for a few days at a time and looking through boxes in the basement isn’t what I want to spend my time doing. So then they ask if they can just throw them out but they can’t do that – I don’t know what’s in them and I need to see it before it gets thrown out!
I had a total hoarder-style breakdown once. I was thirteen or fourteen and yeah, I had a messy room, I was a teenager. My mom kept telling me to tidy up and go through my piles of stuff, but I hadn’t done anything. One day when my dad and I were out somewhere, my mom decided to do it herself. Her version of cleaning was to just throw everything out. When I came home and saw that my things were missing, I had what could only be described as a panic attack. I remember sitting on the floor of the garage, pulling things out of the trash. One of my friends had passed away a few months before and I was so scared that she had thrown out the binder we had drawn on and the notes we had passed in class. She did. I couldn’t find the notes, but I did manage to save the binder. It’s probably in my parents’ basement now.
I tend to keep things because of the memories associated with them. At some point in high school, I managed to get all of the smaller stuff into a shoebox. That’s completely fine. I have ticket stubs, a signed CD, and a hall pass written out at 8:46 am on September 11, 2001 in the box. My bigger issue is that I wind up hanging on to clothes and clothes take up space. I’m not just talking prom dresses and other important things – I have t-shirts, shorts, sweaters, and pants that no longer fit or I no longer wear that I keep just because of what I wore them to. My mom always questions why I still hang onto them – I have the memory, why do I need the items?
Earlier this month, I went through my dresser and closets and wound up with a pretty sizable pile of clothing that could be donated. I think I did my best to make decisions based on what I would wear. Another incentive was that a Plato’s Closet had just opened in Reading and I desperately needed money after my big Disney trip. I wound up bringing two huge bags to Plato’s, but they only bought a few things. That was the worst – I didn’t care about the money, but I wound up coming home with the stuff and it was hard to resist the urge to take things out of the bags!! Luckily, those bags made it over to Goodwill along with two others.
Clearly I have to work harder than the average person to make sure my living space is clean and organized, but in the past month I’ve made a lot of progress. I’m hoping to go through my clothes again and get rid of even MORE. Also, keep an eye out for a post about cleaning my closet and dresser at home!