When I was packing up my room at the end of senior year to move home, I was so proud of my lack of stuff. My room was pretty organized and everything fit no problem, so I didn’t anticipate having a problem fitting it all into the car on the way home. I was surprised when my Rav4 was stuffed to the brim with assorted items and I still had a decent amount of boxes left in my room. Thankfully we had a second car going back as well, but once that was full I STILL had stuff left. At this point I was pretty embarrassed by how much random stuff I had accumulated over four years of school. I had already gotten rid of my big-ticket items, like lamps, a mattress cover, bedside storage, etc. My brother came to the rescue because he was driving home a few weeks after I was, so he brought the last of my boxes.
I unpacked my belongings, all that I had to my name, once I arrived home. My room was a hot mess, quite frankly. I wondered how I had acquired so much crap (really, it was mostly crap), but realized I stored the things I didn’t need in a storage unit and only brought what I needed for summers. Well, now was as good of a time as ever to do a massive purge. I had read The Magic Art of Tidying Up, but didn’t feel like it taught me something I didn’t already know. I think it’s a great book for incredibly disorganized people, but if you already know how to organize and clean it’s obsolete.
It was easy to get rid of things I had gotten more than enough value out of at school - blankets, towels, sheets, my humidifier, etc. These things looked quite used and after having them for four years in a moldy dorm room I was ready to toss those items. I also knew I wanted to have a fresh start with my apartment and didn’t need to keep my cheap side table lamp from Target or items similar to that.
Once I got through the big items or college-specific items, I was left with mostly clothes and shoes. Typical female problems. It was easy at first to sort out some stuff: sorority gear to sell or give away, workout clothes from high school that are too embarrassing to wear at this day in age, shoes I haven’t worn in a year or are too worn to wear, costume gear I sadly no longer need for the impromptu frat party, and clothes past their prime.
After I peeled away the first layer of clothes, I was still left with a lot. Keeping in mind that I’ll be living in work clothes from now on, I looked at my casual clothes. I had a lot of clothes that I wore in high school which weren’t necessarily too worn, but rather were no longer my style. Things that have gone out of style or didn’t fit my personal style went straight to the Goodwill bag. I also donated clothes that were not as high quality that I didn’t love anymore, such as going out clothes from H&M/Forever 21/etc. I was able to swap some clothes or give some to my mom, who is the same size as me. In return, she gave me clothes for work! It was a win-win.
At that point, I was able to fit everything in my storage. During the summer, if I put on something that is tired-looking, stained, or ill-fitting, I put it in a bag to donate. With my move coming up in a about a month or so, I’ve started to go through my belongings yet again to get rid of unnecessary things.
I through it would be difficult to part with these things, but once I started filtering my belongings I realized just that: they are things. Things won’t make me happy, give me satisfaction, or help me find meaning. Now I’m not about to go full-blown minimalism here and only own a few pieces of clothing or start a capsule wardrobe, but I must admit I find great satisfaction in having less. There is less distraction, less to spend on, and less to deal with. Plus, the things I am left with after my cleaning are things that are meaningful to me.
Here are my tips and tricks for cleaning up your things:
- If you haven’t worn or used it in a year, get rid of it.
- I find that I usually get rid of clothes after about 4-5 years of having them unless they are high quality, timeless pieces. It’s okay to get rid of clothes! Especially if you think about how frequently you’ve worn them.
- Contrary to my last point, it’s okay to get rid of things you’ve never used. I’ve been there, where you look at something in your closet with the price tag still on and feel an overwhelming sense of guilt, even though maybe the item doesn’t fit or was a bad call to buy. Just accept that it’s a sunk cost and get rid of it! You’ll feel so much better!
- My rule of thumb: one piece in, one piece out.
- Don't make more space, have less things.
Getting rid of crap is incredibly liberating and makes you feel lighter and less chained down to things. Plus it'll save you a ton of money when you don't feel the need to constantly buy things, which is great for the post-grad budget!