UPDATE : 2021.6.7 Mon 08:54
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Making room for what really matters
I’m a pack rat. I’m too sentimental about my stuff. I still keep old ticket stubs from movies I’ve seen with friends, magazine cut-outs from long-abandoned scrapbook projects, bottle caps and coasters from fun night-outs, and my daughter’s very firsts--- the first pair of socks she’s ever worn, her first teddy bear, and her first hair pin. I even have her first bowl, first spoon, lunchbox, and the first jewelry she’s ever given to me – a macaroni necklace she made in her kindergarten art class. Most people consider these things garbage, but not me. These are my treasures. I can’t throw them away. I’ve attached a sentimental value to each and every one of them. I put them all in my “happy box”, a box that I open to remind me of happy moments. Blah, blah, blah. The truth is, I’m drowning in clutter.

I have a lot of clutter. It fills my closets, my desks, my drawers, my life. I’m living an over-stuffed life, and it’s giving me a lot of stress. I know that in order to have a clutter-free life, I need to “let go” of a lot of stuff, organize what remains, and stop buying things that I don’t really need. It seems so simple. But why is it so difficult?

For me, parting with particular items is stressful. Like I said, I am very sentimental. I still have my pair of classic Levi’s 501 jeans because you’ll never know when “retro style” is going to be “in” again. Instead of throwing away an old cup, I’d look at it and tell myself “Now this cup has a really good story. It has brought me happiness with all the good coffee it contained.” Weird, right? I guess I’m just looking for more meaning in my life. And the way I do that is extremely ineffective. I buy more and more stuff, believing that the stuff is going to give me a feeling of satisfaction. What really happens is I find myself in this cycle of accumulating things that are supposed to make me feel better, but I end up feeling overwhelmed and dissatisfied. The life-enhancing things become clutter.

People are always looking for meaning in their lives. But we can’t get meaning with stuff. An awful lot of stuff that we have we never use but can’t let go of. They are basically things in which we’ve invested dreams that didn’t happen. Like the scrapbook projects I had. It’s very difficult to let go of dreams even though they didn’t bring us the satisfaction we were hoping for.

Keeping all those clothes you’ll never wear again, the books you’ve already read, and the excessive amounts of freebies (such as all those pens you collected) that you know you’ll never find use for only takes up valuable space. It’s time to sit down and figure out what really matters in your life. Do you really need to have twenty pairs of jeans? Will your life be less meaningful if you have only two winter coats? You can donate stuff, have a garage sale, or just toss them away.

No matter how difficult it is, we have to make room for what really matters. But I’m still keeping my Levi’s.

Cecile Hwang  media@changwon.ac.kr

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