If you're feeling accused at this moment, rest assured it's because I have come to the conclusion that almost everyone I know has too much stuff. Chiefly, me.
You may be one of those wonderful, rare unicorns who is capable of getting a card from their grandparents and thinking, "This was so sweet. And I'll cherish the memory of getting this card. But the thing, not so much." Aaaaand into the garbage it goes. Because, #clean.
If so, you are a "Jordan." You are not a "me."
That 5th grade fun run t-shirt you gave away immediately? I still have it. Oh, did you want to see a note I passed with my friend Ginny Tyler in middle school? Gotcha. Gimme a sec and I'll root through MILLIONS OF BOXES to get it for you.
This is my life.
As I'm sure all of you who identify as My Fellow Packrats understand, getting rid of things is really, really hard. Every item is attached to a memory, and if you purge, you might forget it!
This problem, which had already consumed my life, compounded on itself when I got married. All at once, I was merging my (endless sea of) stuff with Jordan's stuff, then we got all of these unbelievably generous wedding gifts. And then, to add to the hilarity, my parents moved from Alabama to Oklahoma, forcing me to go over there and take every single one of the 30 (not an exaggeration) boxes of my old stuff to my 2/2 house in Homewood.
Jordan didn't have tons of sympathy for me while sorting through literally decades of childhood memories (I could have been cleaning as I went, obviously), meanwhile I was feeling REALLY sorry for myself, a la famous ugly crier Kim Kardashian:
When I say I am a packrat, I mean that when I went to get my boxes from my parents, there was an entire large laundry hamper full of ONLY Chi O t-shirts. This is not a drill. This is not an exaggeration.
So I've been reading up on ways to de-clutter your life, because I just feel like it's time. Apart from the obvious physical nuisance that too much stuff is, it poses a moral question for me: why do I have this much stuff sitting around? Aren't there other people who could be using it?
In Marie Kondo's (who is a mastermind and you should look her up immediately) books, she proposes three ideas that have changed things at Chez Scott:
- "Thanking something for its service." How beautiful is that? So: the items you're holding onto because they were gifts and you feel guilty throwing them/giving them away? Thank them for their service, and let them move to their next purpose.
- Asking yourself, "Does this item spark joy?" She suggests confronting every single item in your house and getting real with yourself - does that item truly make you happy? If not, it's time to thank it for its service and say goodbye.
- Making your items happy. Does that shirt look like it wants to be folded or hung up? Do your books need dusting? Treat your items with respect.
Jordan and I decided this past weekend that we needed a closet/clothing overhaul. Here was our method.
- We each chose three items of clothing that we knew we LOVED and would never give away. Those items were our barometer for whether future items "sparked joy."
- One person sat on the edge of our bed, and the other person held up every single item of that person's clothing, like a personal assistant (this is what made it fun). The person who owned the item directed the other person to place it into one of five piles:
- Give away
- Throw away (for items that are too damaged for anyone to get use out of)
- Tailor/dry clean
- Nostalgia pile
- Keep in the closet
This may sound like a lot, but let me explain a couple of them.
3. Tailor/dry clean: We were SHOCKED at the number of items that we own and never wear simply because they're stained or ill-fitting. Jordan has so many shirts and I have almost 10 pairs of pants that just don't quite fit correctly. So we decided to nip this in the bud and finally give these items the respect they deserve.
4. Nostalgia pile: Jordan always laments that his dad didn't keep any of his shirts from growing up in the 60's and 70's, so Jordan wanted to make sure his future son has lots to choose from. These are the items that we don't wear enough to stay in the closet, but we want to hold onto for sentimental reasons. We also promised we'd go back through this box regularly to edit as necessary.
This process was AMAZING. I can't say enough about how freeing it was to see all the clothes we'd decided to send away from our house in some form or another. Here are our results:
All of these hangers represent clothes that used to be in our home, but aren't anymore:
And our bureau and chest of drawers, which used to be literally bursting (I couldn't fit any more of Jordan's t-shirts on his shelf so the shelves were buckled up) is now so minimalist that I can't believe we didn't do this years ago:
Ultimately, this process made us feel SO great and so much lighter, in a strange way. I will say, though, as much as I wanted to pat myself on the back, this is something that's so overdue. Ladies, I'm talking to us here - it's so easy to fall victim to the lie that more = better. It's the myth of the fashion blogger.
"I have a trench coat, but I don't have a sleeveless trench coat." - Something I have actually said out loud before.
"But I've worn this in front of these people before, I don't want them to see me in it again." - Another thing that has for sure come out of my mouth. Many times.
There are so many people on this planet who are scraping what they have together in order to make their lives work, and I'm sifting through boxes of clothes I never wear.
It's a gut punch.
Going through our clothes has now made me very conscious of what I'm going to buy in the future. I actually made a list of the things I need, like a new pair of tennis shoes (mine are actually falling apart) or a new pair of glasses for Jordan (his are eight years old), and I won't buy anything that isn't on that list.
Excess isn't all that it's cracked up to be. Especially when my neighbor doesn't have enough.
(Note: I'm aware that not everything I want to give away can be of use. Homeless shelters are constantly getting some things (like M-L men's shirts) and not others (like new socks or XXXL men's shirts), so it's worth researching what can be helpful!)
So, are you ready to feel better and do your part to help in the process - ready? GO!