Day 8: Candid Thoughts About Clutter (Or, How I Came to This Place in My Life)

I’ve been giving a lot of thought into why I feel so compelled to do all this organizing, cleaning, and de-cluttering. Truth be told, I’m not doing it because I think this is what a good housekeeper does. I’m not doing it because of all the pristine photos I see in all the design and home magazines I love to read. I’m not even doing it for people who come over to visit and might open a random drawer to look for something and find a big, fat mess that I had hidden so well.

All of those things come into play, of course, but they aren’t the primary reasons I’m doing this. No, I’m doing it because I want to clear my mind and free myself to make other positive lifestyle changes (like working out more.) I hate feeling panicked or ashamed or insufficient. I enjoy feeling serene, calm, and collected. Having messes only contributes to the former. Being organized encourages the latter. Getting things in order from the inside out, from the smallest drawer to the largest room, is the first step in paving the way for the life changes I know are eventually ahead of us. We would like to have a family one day, buy or build a home, and be hospitable–we like to entertain! Besides, not only do Daniel and I have more relaxing evenings when our little house in order, but we also have more time to devote to other things we love doing. For me, that’s blogging and watching movies. For him, it could be developing his iPhone apps in progress or learning to play guitar. We want to feel free to do those things unencumbered by a house in disarray.

I realized today that I learned a lot of my habits from my mother and grandmothers. I hang onto things like plastic bags because they did. I over-sentimentalize items because I knew they kept every card or picture I gave them or drew for them. I didn’t invest in storage containers that looked good as well as served a practical purpose, because they didn’t. I felt those things were luxuries.  Sure, my eye for design saw them as attractive and desirable, but not necessary. How is it we never put the priority on being well-organized, not so that we could look like a magazine shoot, but so that we could invest in our mental and emotional health? It saddens me to think that it wasn’t until I hit 30 that I began to understand the effect physical clutter and dirt can have on me and the people around me. I’ve begun to see excess as disabling and simplicity as empowering.

Other road blocks I’ve encountered have been financial and circumstantial. Growing up, I didn’t have enough furniture for storage and it hasn’t been until recently that I’ve had enough money to buy more (or better) furniture to use for such a purpose. It didn’t dawn on me that maybe I wasn’t as messy as I (shamefully and secretly) thought  that I was–that maybe I really was suffering from a lack of places for my things. I also moved A LOT. Boxes of stuff were a normal part of my life. I think one calendar year after graduation from college I moved seven times. Seven. Other than as a very young child, I don’t remember the last time I unpacked from a move completely until this home I live in with Daniel now. For the first time in about fifteen years, I’ve been able to see all my belongings and make decisions about them.

Are all these things excuses for lazy behaviors or reluctant homemaking habits? No, of course not, but they’ve certainly contributed to my mindset … which is now changing, like I mentioned in this post a few days ago.

Thanks for stopping in to watch our journey. I hope that our sharing these pictures and posts will inspire you on your own!

{And yes, in case you’re wondering, that little girl is me, pouting in my messy room circa 1983-1985}




Filed under Uncategorized

5 responses to “Day 8: Candid Thoughts About Clutter (Or, How I Came to This Place in My Life)

  1. Crystal

    I gotta say, I have suddenly become a lot less likely to give you presents because I do attach sentimentality to objects and it would definitely hurt to have them thrown out… Gotta agree about the cards though. I keep them until I finally have gotten sick of moving them from apartment to house to apartment. Then, out they go, usually about 10 years after I got them.

  2. Cindy

    Thank you for sharing … I really enjoyed your post and liked the insights about clutter and what it means to you. I’m on a similar journey and found your post to be inspiring, validating, and motivating.

  3. Pingback: 365 Days of Organization: The Journey of a Little Messy Girl | Behind Closed Drawers

  4. Pingback: One year later … | Behind Closed Drawers

  5. Pingback: Celebrating Small Victories | Behind Closed Drawers

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s