It’s Time to Clean Out the Clutter [Confessions of a Twenty-Something]
A few years ago, I decided it was time to clean out my closet. I was trying to pick out something to wear, and I could not believe the amount of shirts, dresses, shoes, purses, belts, jackets, etc. I had accumulated over time. I was so done with all of my clothes and busted out some garbage bags. It was time to purge.
During this massive purge, I was also recovering from open-heart surgery and on a lot of painkillers. I literally got rid of more than half of my wardrobe. As my mom helped me discard my clothes, she would second-guess all of my decisions. “Are you sure you want to throw this away, Katie? You’ve had it forever.”
Yes, I was sure. It all had to go.
When the fog of the painkillers subsided and I realized what I had actually done, I was a little annoyed. I had gotten rid of clothes I actually wore and liked, but I began to realize that this wasn’t the worst thing that could have happened. Not only was my closet clean and organized but also a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. This purge was good for me. I no longer fell into a pit of anxiety, overwhelmed by the task to pick out something to wear when I opened my closet. I got a fresh start. I had a clean slate in front of me, and though I did get rid of some things I wish I hadn’t, I also got rid of a lot of things I’d been holding onto for the wrong reasons—things I didn’t need anymore.
I had kept certain articles of clothing that hadn’t fit in years just because I hoped that maybe one day they would. I held onto things like t-shirts from special events because they were tied to a memory. I guess I was worried that if I threw something out, that memory would be thrown out with it. Lo and behold, the shirt is gone; the memory has stayed. I was holding onto things in my life that I no longer needed, even though I thought I did. As I purged, I felt less stressed, more at ease, and all around happier. As time passed, I realized I didn’t miss any of those clothes all anyway. I realized I had been living in excess.
I was cluttering my closet. I was cluttering my life.
Sometimes we carry around excess. These “extras” become a part of us. These issues, people, and/or commitments stack up on our shoulders and integrate themselves into our lives, slowly melting to fit the mold of our life. We use the excess as a crutch, as a comfort. We can crawl into our clutter and hide because it’s familiar and safe. Why would we want to change? Change is terrifying, right?
We have friends that we stay in contact with only because of time and familiarity. Your moms are best friends or you had high school biology together. You’re still friends, but you have next to nothing in common. You might not even like them very much anymore. They bail on plans constantly, never respond to your texts, and only want to hang when it’s best for them. Who wants to keep a friend like that around? On paper, it sounds ridiculous that we would ever want to keep a person like that in our lives, but we do! We all do because sometimes, we like the clutter. Let that friend go. Clean that bad friend clutter out of your life.
We hold grudges that are years old. We’ve already held onto it for this long, why let go now? We literally do not even remember what we’re pissed off about, but there we are—mad at someone, carrying around the mind clutter of a grudge. I’ve always said that holding a grudge is like letting someone live rent-free in your head. Why bother with the resentment? Forgive and let go. Free yourself from the clutter and get ready to feel happier, to feel lighter. There will be a little pep in your step.
We’re always keeping busy. If we’re not busy, you’re we’re working hard enough. And if we’re not working, we’re lazy and unmotivated. We fill every second of free time in our days with something to do because free time is often seen as a sign that we’re unproductive. Can someone explain to me what is so wrong with taking a day off? What is wrong with a little relaxation? What is wrong with taking a nap after a long morning? Purge one activity that you don’t really need to do—one thing that you do just because you’ll feel guilty if you don’t. Drop that cooking class. Say “no” to the lady who always asks you to babysit last minute. Make sure that everyday you have a little bit of “me time.”
As twenty-somethings, we’re trying to juggle everything all at once. We’ve been thrust into adulthood, heading towards some sort of new life filled with independence and responsibility. We’re attempting to maintain our old friendships and our new romantic relationships. We’re looking for jobs, internships, or anything that will make us a buck so we can keep the heat on a little longer. We’re desperately searching for our place in this world—anywhere that we can squeeze into for just a moment—just to feel at peace for brief minute. Sometimes we do try to find this peace by refusing to purge the past. Our old ways are comfortable. Our bad habits die hard. We’re accustomed to the clutter, but by keeping the mess, we’re only making our lives heavier.
Purge a bad habit. Throw away your pack of cigarettes. Switch from drinking soda to tea. Walk to the store that’s only a few blocks away instead of driving. Hit the snooze button twice instead of three times. Remove one terrible reality TV show from your DVR lineup. Stop eating in your car. Quit biting your nails. Clean out your closet. Let go of that grudge. De-clutter your schedule. Free up your time. Free up your mind. Purge. Breathe. Repeat.
Katie recently finished her undergrad at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois. She enjoys wasting hours on Facebook and tweeting things no one cares about. When asked the question, “Do you do marathons?” She promptly responds, “Of course! Which show?” Follow her @KatieGarrity! Or read her personal blog where she talks incessantly about Ryan Gosling and hummus here!