Monday, July 25, 2016

Why Is It So Hard to Part with Our Possessions?

For the past two weeks, I've been trying to declutter my house. Actually no, I'm trying to do something a bit more drastic than that. What I'm really aiming for is to completely minimize my life by unloading as much of my material possessions as possible so that it'll be easier for me to be more mobile. When I needed to find a new home last year, I almost chose a tiny studio apartment because the larger spaces I was viewing were out of my price range. While the idea of giving up hosting opportunities made me sad, a part of me was looking forward to getting rid of crap I'd accumulated over the years. I don't consider myself a hoarder, but I have my piles of things I've been too sentimental to part ways with. Things like old school papers, art projects, every letter my friends and I have sent to each other, craft supplies, all my childhood diaries, etc. Mind you, these are things I only look through once every couple of years, but every time I do, I'm so grateful I still have them.

When I eventually signed a lease for a one-bedroom apartment, everything came with me and here I am a year later, looking around wondering what's the point of all this stuff I've acquired. It feels more like a home when I fill a place with my things, but I know I don't need most of it. I know this because I can't remember the last time I ever touched that book I thought I'd be all the better for having read. Clothes in my closet still have tags, waiting for the day I can fill it out just right. Do I need 50 pairs of underwear? No. And what about all those tops when my actual rotation only consists of about 10 choices? I'll amass art supplies to nurture whatever hobby I've taken up for the season and then add them to the growing collection when I move on to something else. I've heard a tip that suggests if you haven't touched, used, or worn it in the past year, chuck it. Only when I tried to do that, it was much harder than I thought it would be. I went into the mission thinking it'll be a piece of cake. How much could it possibly mean to me if I've never cared to use it? I even had visions of being able to fit all the things most important to me in this world in one suitcase. I could up and leave whenever I pleased completely unburdened by my earthly possessions! Huzzah!

Yeah, okay, lady.

What really ended up happening was I started picking through my clothes and telling myself, "Oh! But so-and-so gave this to you and you tailored it and everything. Surely, this will be the summer you wear it?" Or "But if you throw this out, one day you'll end up wanting to wear something just like this and then look, you'll have to spend time and money to find it all over again. You don't want to be wasteful now do you? Do you??"


Eventually I ended up hacking my clothes pile at least in half if not more, but I'm still not satisfied. I can do better. If I'm struggling with parting with an item, I'll ask myself, "What's more important to you? Keeping this in your life or living abroad?"

But then wanting to part ways with clothes, books, and furniture isn't even the biggest challenge. It's actually going through the task of getting them out of my house. So far, I've participated in a neighborhood flea market that was a total bust unless we go by the number of plastic hangers I managed to sell to one lady. I've started listing books on eBay just to learn how the site works and Craigslist is currently housing my ads for furniture and household items. I'll probably hate myself once I get rid of the storage before I've sold the things I stored inside them, but I just want to plow through. My goal is to spend the next couple of months unloading as much as possible...and then move on.

I've only been in this current apartment for a year, and while the beginning was a rough start that made me reconsider my decision every night for three months, eventually I settled into it and started feeling a bit more comfortable in this new space. Inside, I created a colorful little haven in the hopes of separating me from its crappy surroundings and management. I didn't have a housewarming party until six months into my lease, that's how long it took for me to want to invite friends over. Now, it's as if we're right back to June/July 2015 and I just can't handle the endless string of maintenance issues that go unfixed. This isn't home, this is Chateau Shithole. And while last year I was much too stubborn to call it quits so soon after moving in (and how badly I wanted to move on from my last situation), this time I'm throwing my hands up and saying you win, apartment 1J. It was fine attempt on my part., but now I want out.

Have you tried to minimize your life? How'd you go about getting rid of your things? Donate? Sell? I'll probably do a combo of those, but would love any suggestions you might have before I say screw it and leave it all in a pile on the street.


  1. I've been wanting (and trying) to reduce the "stuff" I've accumulated over the years. It's harder than it sounds. And I usually find other things to do that seem more important at the time. I have made some progress, it's been sporadic, some areas I've worked on, other areas I've tried and not made much progress, while there are others I haven't even gotten to. I've given a lot of stuff to Goodwill, tossed other things that I felt were too used, or not a complete set.

    Have you looked into Freecycle?

  2. I've moved twice in the past five years, and both times took the oppertunity to clear some clutter. I threw away things no good to anyone any more, and gave away the rest of what I was getting rid of (some to the local charity shops, some to family and friends who wanted it).

  3. I just moved myself! And unlike others I don't have a hard time parting with things, I just can't be bothered with the work that goes in - taking photos, creating ads, dealing with people who don't seem to read those ads etc. Still I sold most of the things and the rest I just put outthere for free but they had to pick it up themselves and I would advise you to do the same.
    I know a little extra money is always nice but in the end you have to think about what's more important - and for me it was to get rid of stuff and move on!

  4. I find the only thing for me that works is to put something I want to get rid of in a de-cluttering manner - is to just pick it up and put it on the curb with a sign on it saying "FREE". Even on my quiet neighborhood street - most things disappear within an hour.

  5. I just spent the last 6 months going through a major de-cluttering process in preparation for a move across the ocean. It was very difficult! I have emotional attachments to my things and having an abundance gives me comfort. On the other hand, my husband is a complete minimalist who would happily own as little as possible.
    It helped me to have a transitional spot - a box in a different room or in the garage that I would put possible donations in. I didn't bother trying to sell stuff, just donated it all to our local Big Brothers/Big Sisters club - they would pick up the items from the house. I considered consigning my better-quality clothing, but in the end just donated it all. I figure it gives me good thrifting karma in the future! You might look into thredup - I know you can send clothes in and get paid if they accept items. Look up some online reviews - I know a lot of bloggers wrote about going through the process and if they thought it was worth it.
    The funny thing is, after the donation boxes were picked up, I truly could not remember what I gave away! The items I held onto for so long are forgotten once they are out of my sight.

  6. I love your voice. Smart and funny and oh so true. I feel like I'm two people constantly dukin' it out on this issue. Part of me wants to keep EVERYTHING if only for sentimental reasons. The other part wants an uber organized room with a lot of free space. Space for air. Once I gave away a TON of old clothes. Dresses from the 50s. Even a few of my mother's dresses from back then. Ya know what? I regret it. Those dresses were so well made and pretty. They just don't make clothes like that anymore. And while I would never wear them (I don't have boobs) I still enjoyed looking at them every time I went into the closet.

    Which brings me to shoes! I have shoes that would kill me if I ever even attempted to launch myself into them. Shoes that could kill a man with one swift kick. (Not that I'm planning to, just sayin') Will I EVER wear these shoes? Nope. Not unless I'm feeling suicidal. But will I give them away? Aaaarrrggghhh.... the closet is so much cuter harboring this other woman's clothing. MINE? Sweatpants and long sleeved Ts.

    So, I've decided that SOME things get to stay just because they make me smile. No other reason. As long as there's room for those crazy outfits that I will NEVER wear, I'm keeping them. As long as everything has a home and it's nice and neat and well organized, what's the harm? It reminds me that there is a serious rockandroller still alive and well in me. I might be 56 and prefer comfort over style but that's only one of me. The other me is outrageous. And ya never know when she's gonna wake up from her decades long slumber and get on out there and rock those stilettos! With her walker of course. :D :D


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