Toward the end of fall semester, I started feeling like I had too much stuff. I think the feeling was exacerbated by also feeling like I didn’t have enough space to adequately store my stuff. Lack of closet space, lack of bins to put miscellaneous items, etc. all contributed to feeling really overwhelmed. Over the last few years, I’ve said I need to go through my closet but just haven’t made the time to do it.
I don’t have class on Tuesdays this semester, so with the MLK Day weekend, I had a five-day break. I decided to devote my entire Friday to cleaning and organizing. I started around 9 am and finished my bedroom, closet, and desk area by 6 pm. I got a bit anxious and overwhelmed around 2 pm so took a break and went to Chick-Fil-A because… obviously. I recorded myself going through the process because I wanted to remember how I was feeling as I was cleaning things out. Is the result perfect? No. Is there more to do in the future? Sure, I’ll probably try to do this process once a year moving forward.
If you’re unfamiliar with Marie Kondo, she’s kind of the go-to organizational guru right now. Netflix just released a show where she helps people organize and cleanse. The biggest principle in her method is to only keep things that “spark joy.” This means that you hold each item, and if it sparks joy, you keep it. If it doesn’t spark joy, you thank it for the memories and let it go.
The first step is to take everything out of your closet and such, and put it in one place. I started with clothing, which is considered “lesson one.” It looked like this:
While this may not look like that much, it’s actually a ton of clothing. Some of the items I’ve had since college, but haven’t’ worn since moving to Virginia two and a half years ago. Some pieces of clothing were easier to part with than others. Some observations I made early in the process:
I have a hard time parting with things from college.
I have a hard time getting rid of them because I was thinner in college, and I keep telling myself that I’m going to get back to that weight. But at the end of the day, I need to stop putting that pressure on myself and accept it probably won’t happen anytime soon. Also, I feel better about my body now than I did in college, even though I was thinner. My mentality about health and fitness is so much better now. A revelation for me was that I loved the clothing, it was that I loved the body type I had in college. It’s a bit rough to acknowledge that.
Things that spark joy but I never wear —
The things that spark joy bu that I never wear need to go. It’s the memories associated with the clothing that are joyful, not the clothing itself.
There are clothes that I’ve never worn.
Some of the clothes I bought at the end of college, and then just didn’t wear immediately. Now they’re still in my closet and I haven’t worn it. I realized some of the pieces I refused to wear because once I started gaining weight in law school, I’d look at the piece of clothing and assume it wasn’t going to fit because I didn’t want to try something on that wouldn’t fit when I was already feeling really insecure about my weight.
I am super hard on myself about weight. I will beat myself up when I gain weight, when I work out all the time and don’t lose weight, etc. but at the end of the day I like my body and like myself. I need to let things go that don’t look great and don’t make me feel great. So, while the memories made in a piece of clothing were great, the clothing itself should go.
I will also say I get really anxious about clothing because of other people. For example, I had a “friend” when I was younger who told other people that I had tons of clothing in my closet that still had tags on them and then the people she told would ask me about it. What she didn’t know was some of the stuff was hand-me-downs from my sister or things I bought on clearance from Forever 21, or bought and then never wore them because I had too many clothes, which is a problem. However, I wasn’t purchasing clothes all the time without a care in the world. I felt like it was super mean-spirited and judgmental for her to do that.
The other thing I will say is I’ve had people in my life who comment on my spending a lot. They say I shop a lot, or that I have a lot of clothing, or literally any other comment that they basically shouldn’t say. When I started blogging in college, I was trying to do “fashion blogging” so I bought a lot of clothes. Also, I lost 20 pounds in college and needed new clothes that actually fit properly. To that point, when my weight fluctuates (which is often), I shop. It’s a problem, but it’s something I do because when you’re gaining weight, and you go to your closet, and everything is a little too tight, it doesn’t make you feel good, it makes you put pressure on yourself, and makes you feel fat even when you’re not. I don’t think I’m fat. I’m naturally curvy. I work out regularly. I eat healthily. And yet, my body is where it is and I’m tired of reprimanding it constantly for not cooperating with the unattainable standard of beauty I have for myself.
It makes me so anxious when people know what I’ve bought or how much a sweater costs or whatever because I’ve been the target of a lot of passive aggressive comments and frankly, people don’t have the right to comment on how I live my life.
You may feel like you need to get rid of everything.
I started to feel like I was doing something wrong when I noticed my “give away” pile was smaller than my “keep” pile. However, I realized that you don’t have to do some super outrageous cleanse. If what you keep is all stuff you like and that “sparks joy” you’re doing it right.
Outcome: I feel so much better in my space, everything has a home, and the weight of keeping things that make put pressure on myself is gone.
I got too involved in the process and forgot to take before and after pictures of everything. However, the end result of my closet makes me sooooo happy.
I said goodbye to so many clothes that I still liked in the abstract, but in reality, I never reached for them and even when I did, I didn’t feel good in them.
This was a massive learning experience and I feel so much better about my space. I also feel like moving forward, I know everything in my space sparks joy and makes me feel good.
Have you jumped on the Marie Kondo bandwagon?