When I was in my Sophomore year of college, I lived in a quad with four other girls. Despite being in our second year of college and knowing that we had literally next to no room for our belongings we still managed to pack in every last item of clothing, dishes, food, toiletries, etc. in to our very very tiny living space. Except for one of us, my quad mate Sara. She had the only room in the quad to herself and every time I walked in to her room, it was spotless. I was jealous, curious and completely blown away by her ability to figure out where to put all of her stuff – until I realized she didn’t have much of it to put away. After a couple months of living with Sara, I asked her what her secret was to this simplistic, minimalist lifestyle that she led – all while my giant pile of clean clothes still hadn’t made its way into my closet. Sara informed me that she picked clothing based on usability. 4 sweaters, 4 shirts, 4 pants and 4 pairs of jeans that she could rotate through over and over again in a way that she could mix and match each of the items she bought each season. When the season was up, the clothing was donated and on to the next set of 4 she went. It wasn’t just her clothing that she behaved this way with tho, she had her favorite bottle of wine, her white cheddar popcorn snack and just enough food in case she had to eat something home instead of at the cafeteria. 2 sets of sheets, 2 pillows, no extra blankets and just the right amount of picture frames, purses and shoes. Everything in her room had been carefully curated, and she was happy. Really really happy. I’d walk into my room after a long day of classes and see the bomb that went off and just think, dear god I can’t handle cleaning right now too. So off I’d go to a friend’s room or our living room and I’d just ignore the problem staring me in the face. Whether I was emotionally buying junk to fill some empty space within myself or I just really really liked new clothing, I’m not sure. But seeing it in piles, shoes thrown about the room, clothes draped over my desk chair – never made me feel good. I hated that I was messy and I hated even more that it actually affected the way I performed in my daily life.
Marie Kondō is clearly the guru of decluttering one’s life, she may even be better than my old roommate Sara 😉 What I’ve learned is rediscovering your style isn’t such a bad thing. Instead of feeling like a hoarder, you get to feel like you’ve created the best version of yourself by organizing your life like a pro. Kondō’s vertical folding technique is a gift from the organizing gods. Sure it’s a process and you have to dedicate some serious folding time to get the job done, but once it is you will be so so happy with yourself. The purge will provide much of the same gratifying feeling. I hear people say how much they love purging items. I have to tell you, I struggle with this one. Clearly it has to be therapeutic, but damn that old rug from my college dorm room brings back so many memories. Let me stop right there, I ended up throwing out the rug, but it was no easy feat. What I try to tell people is you will always find another rug, shirt, pair of shoes, purse, hat, chair, table, etc. that you’ll love just as much for different reasons, so try and take the plunge and give the purge a real chance to change your life. If for any reason you’re holding on to anything nostalgic and you can’t fit it in one medium sized box – put on blindfolds and just dump whatever it is you’re holding on to. I was actually just at a closing where the lender shared a story about how he had his old college books stored away in his attic in his home for over 30 years. We started joking about how he was going to have time to break those puppies out and read through his 30 year old psychology book. Guess where they eventually ended up when he cleared out his attic to sell his home – the garbage. The purge sounds like a really bad horror movie, but it should be the name of the next great rom com because it will change your life.
Truth be told, all of this is still a work in progress for me. I dream of the day that I can wake up and know that everything is in its place, exactly where it is meant to be. So for now I’ll just keep telling myself that Sara had a whole room to herself and that’s why it was always so tidy, and as for you Marie Kondō, kudos! I’ll be over here tackling my pots and pans.
For more information on Marie Kondō check out her book: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing