Early last year, I started reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. If you have not heard about this book or read it, this book discusses ways to eliminate clutter from your house and to create a home that feels tidy. Marie Kondo believes you change your home and you change your life, you leave your job or take more risks and feel free to live your best life in a way you were not able to before. I read this and thought, yeah right, that’s not going to happen to me. I followed most of the suggestions, I did not eliminate art or all of my books or all of my things, but I pared down. I did this with my husband and for me the results were much more drastic than for him. I took it to heart and started considering the impact of things on my life. I threw out many clothes, a large quantity of books and started considering my environment. In a year since then, I quit my job and have started to radically evaluate my life. I am not sure if this is a chicken and egg situation but it is true. Here are my biggest takeaways and lasting influence a year later.
- I often get attached to my things as representations of who I could become. For example, I do not drink and I had two dozen wine glasses. Getting rid of them was not so much about their non-use but rather the idea that someday I would become a person who started drinking wine, and a lot of it at that and who could tell the difference between a glass meant for red wines and for white wines. These things are fundamentally untrue about me. It took me time to find peace with that and to accept that I can choose differently. Similar things happened when I considered heels, I do not wear them; Why own them?
- When I have more things, I treat them worse. The most apparent role of this was clothes, I got rid of more than half of what I owned and I had not taken good care of those items of clothing. I now have less clothing and yet I treat it much better, I hand wash things and take care of how I am treating each new piece I acquire because I am concerned about longevity.
- I am still attached to books and my greatest regret from the process is getting rid of some of my books, most of them could have gone, but some I wish I had. Although if I am being honest, I read mostly library books because of the urgency with which they need to be returned to the library.
- It is easier to keep my home feeling neater and cleaner with less. I find when I declutter and get rid of items I feel that my home is easier to keep tidier, which makes me feel more sane and alive. I do not feel like I will be unable to find my keys, because they go where they always go. This took a while to learn, but having less meant I am more aware of what I have.
- Some clothes make sense folded vertically, but I do not think everything needs to be folded that way. Folding shirts and pants in a traditional way, less fit in your drawer, which I have come to think may be for the best.
- It is not the stuff that matters, things are only so important. I can rebuy the books I regret getting rid of or take them out from the library. I think society tells us we need much more than we actually do. When I cleared out the clutter, I was able to think better.
- Organizing, decluttering, and changing the way you do something only does so much. Yes, I quit my job, but I am not sure clothing was the impetus. I have often fallen into the mistaken belief that changing my clothes or hair or my house will change my life. That is often not the case and I then used to rush to find a way to fill it. Lasting change takes time, it takes re-evaluating your perspective, it takes being willing to see things differently, to question beliefs and to be uncomfortable. I am a changed person more from those things, than from less stuff in my house.
I feel like these lessons were only useful to me through application. That being said, decluttering can be a fun habit and every once in a while I decide I need less and try to get rid of more. I am really glad that I learned these things from Marie Kondo because I feel like they serve me both at home and out in the world.