Sentimental Clutter

Finally! The spring semester has finally come to an end, and with it all the responsibilities of classes.  Having taken my last final and found myself back home again, I have begun my personal ritual of self-assessment.

Every time I come home from college, I am amazed by the amount of stuff I own!  I have been a practicing minimalist for two years now, yet somehow my room still doesn’t look like the ones on my Pinterest boards.  Yet I am not discouraged.  After all, minimalism is a journey, not a destination.  I have made extreme improvements in the past two years, and I am determined to make many more.

Unfortunately, because I have spent the last few years minimizing my possessions, most of the items that are left have some sort of sentimental value, and therefore are much harder to part with than items in my early minimalist days.  I have, however, as I have been going through my own things, developed some strategies which I would like to share with you.  They are simple yet very helpful when it comes to parting with things that have emotional attachment.

  1. Designate an “I don’t know if I’m ready to part with it” box.  Keep this box somewhere where you can see it.  Let it bother you a little bit and get in your way.  You’ll find that this box is very helpful for identifying things that you probably should give up, but for some reason haven’t.  Once you trip over it enough, it will force you to re-evaluate the items inside.  Often I find myself able to let go of most of the items in the box after a sufficient amount of time has passed.
  2. Make a box for the sentimental items that remind you of different people.  Whether it’s your brother, mother, or best friend, designate a box to each person, and fill it up!  Once you are finished, have that person go through it and take out anything which they might wish to keep or want you to keep.  It can be very helpful to see what other people value when it comes to memories, and it’s always nice to share.
  3. If you can’t find a functional purpose for it, display it, or actively enjoy it, it’s not worth the room that its taking up, and certainly not the value attached to it.
  4. Lastly, if it really means that much to you or it’s something that you want your children to inherit someday, keep it.  Minimalism isn’t about letting go of things that bring you joy.  It’s about getting rid of the stuff that buries what brings you joy!  If you love it, use it! Display it! Wear it! Share it!

I have found in this round of evaluation that sentimental clutter can be a difficult thing to deal with, though it is all the more satisfying when you really get to the root of the problem and understand what it is that you truly value and why.


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