Monday Musings: Epiphanies From Discarding Excess

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Courtesy of Hans @ pixabay.com (not my room pictured!)

So I mentioned way back in April 1st that I was doing some de-cluttering while waiting to hear back from the JET Program. If you happen to be looking at your own mountain of possessions, I feel you. You’re not alone. If you’re diligent and honest about getting rid of it, if you’ve got support systems in place for it, and if you go at your own pace, you’ll do just fine.

But rather than talk about anything in the way of steps or advice (I am by no means an  expert at de-cluttering, and everybody’s relationship with their possessions is different), I’m going to share two things that I’ve discovered about the process of de-cluttering my clothes, in particular.

On Not Being a Hero

If you live in the United states, you know that most trash just ends up in landfills, and that as a nation, we suck at recycling.

And with global warming affecting our planet every day, getting rid of my clutter has made me more aware than ever of my impact on the environment. While going through my clothes, I felt guilty, knowing that most of them would probably end up in a landfill somewhere due to their condition. And because of that guilt, I wondered if I should give them to a charity.

But then I learned that in some cases, if you want a tax deductible receipt, many charities ask you to itemize your donations. And charities often prefer gently used clothes over clothes that are well-worn.

So you can imagine how guilty, frustrated, and overwhelmed I felt, after sorting through all my clothes and putting them in bags, at the possibility of sorting through them again in order to itemize them for monetary purposes. This was the first time I’d ever de-cluttered anything of this magnitude. Should I try to make a profit from these things? Should I go the extra mile to make sure that these clothes become recycled as pillow stuffing? In other words, should I do the “right thing” the first time around?

No.

Because de-cluttering is not about “should,” “would,” or “could.” It’s not about worrying where things you no longer care for end up. I thanked, aloud, each of the clothes that I put in those bags, a technique I borrowed from Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. In those bags were clothes that I loved to wear at one point in my life. Some of the clothes are in downright terrible condition and unwearable, to begin with. If I wouldn’t wear them then or now, then it doesn’t make sense for me to even entertain the idea that anyone else would purchase them.

As for making sure that they’re recycled? Forget it. I put them in a clothing bin outside my closest liquor store and didn’t look back. I’ve got stories to write, and I don’t want to spend my time worrying about old, unwearable clothes. Yes, making sure they get recycled is the more eco-friendly option. But I’m not going to be a hero with those clothes; it’s not my job to worry about clothes that I no longer care for.

But de-cluttering is not about being a hero. De-cluttering is about way more than that.

It’s about becoming a better person. It’s about being mindful moving forward about the clothes I purchase for myself, the clothes I purchase for possible children I could have, and the more sustainable practices I will adopt. No more stuffing old shoes and clothes in the closet when guests come over. No more shopping for new clothes every summer without getting rid of older ones.

Forget tax-write offs; no charity can give me that kind of clarity.

Meeting Myself For the Second Time

One of the first things I noticed after sorting through my clothes was the color of the clothes I’d chosen to keep: blue, green, gray, and black. Even though I’ve declared pink as my favorite color for as long as I could remember, barely 10% of my wardrobe had anything pink in it now that I’d gone through it.

I’ll be honest; part of me felt scared at that realization. For a good portion of my life, I identified with the color pink. I loved wearing my pink shirts, loved my pink Gameboy Advance, loved my pink room. I still love the color; I don’t think it will stop being my absolute favorite — if not, one of my favorites.

But seeing the blue, green, gray, and black shocked me a little. I even went back and grabbed a pink shirt from the discard bags — a shirt that I’d worn only a week ago! — just so I could have a pink T-shirt, as though I wasn’t myself without owning something pink. It felt like I was meeting myself for the second time, or even saying goodbye to the self that I used to be — the little girl that loved anything and everything pink. The pretty pink princess in her pretty pink castle.

Apparently, now she’s a cool, calm, youthful, yet mature woman, according to this page at Incredible Art. Maybe this new me is reflective of my entrepreneurial drive to write and create as a business. Maybe she’s not as innocent as she was before.

Whatever the case, the pretty pink princess is still a part of her. She’s just showing a new layer.


Anyhow, that’s it from me. If you’re in the process of getting rid of your clutter clothes, I suggest reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, reading this article, and visiting thredup.com. Hope you found this post enlightening and entertaining.

See you on the next one!

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