The Great Closet Clean of 2016

This past weekend, I cleaned out my bedroom closet. That doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it is. This closet has been mine since I was 14 years old. And before that, it was my sister’s closet for many years, and before that it was our shared closet. Until this weekend, I don’t think it had ever been cleaned out. There were boxes of stuff and literal trash—broken toys and school papers and things that I needed gloves to remove—accumulated during a period spanning nearly fifteen years.

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Trash closet (minus clothes, all stacked on my bed already).

Though it was tiring and took me two and a half days to complete the project, it is now cleaned and organized and only has two boxes of old toys and things that I wanted to keep for the memories. For most of the weekend, my entire room’s floor was covered in stuff. Stuffed animals, Beanie Babies, that old typewriter I mentioned here, a Pokémon box full of marbles and a bag full of Pokémon cards, our old karaoke machine, and a thousand more things that my sister and I used to play with.

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That safari hat next to the lion is not from my childhood…that’s a recent purchase. For reasons. (I really wanted one.)

As I went through it all—throwing away two and a half garbage bags worth of junk and packing away those two boxes I wanted to keep—I started to notice something. There were about ten or eleven small boxes, around the size of a shoe box or larger, and each one contained roughly a year of my life. It was strange to realize at first, finding all the toys I distinctly remember playing with in the 5th grade, and notes I know are from the 8th grade. Every year had a box—and I didn’t know it was something I had done.

Though I know I do it now, every year or so I get the itch to throw everything away. But instead of doing that, I put all the things I’m not into anymore into a box and…put it in that closet. And it wasn’t until I cleaned it out did I realize that it’s not a new thing for me to do. I’ve been doing it, about once a year, since I was a kid. And I still do it now—sort of. Just recently, I started to put a few things away that I didn’t want out on display—the start of a long journey to becoming more minimalist.

I’ve always been one that thrived off of change—when it’s of my own doing. (If you change an actor in a tv show instead of killing off the character, I will quit watching. If there is a change in menu of my favorite restaurant, I will cry and never go to it again. If you haven’t guessed, yes I’m a control freak.) When it comes to my space and house, it needs to change often, to keep it feeling fresh, alive. A room that remains the same for too long starts to feel stagnant and I become restless in them. My bedroom has gone through several changes throughout the years. I rearrange the furniture and do a big clean about every season or two, most often every spring. I even rearrange my parents’ living room at least twice a year, once before Christmas to fit the tree (we put it in a different place every year) and once before summer starts. Sometimes we rearrange before the Super Bowl, too, for maximum seating for our big party we end up having even if we don’t invite anyone—our house is the party magnet, attracting usuals and strays for most major events. It always ends up a party.

Change is big with me. And I never realized how much it had been all throughout my life. But really, how much change was there? All I did was shove a new box of junk in the same closet, over and over, for years. I’ve been holding on to all of this stuff for so long and I didn’t even realize I still had it.

I threw a lot of it away. Even if my gut reaction was to keep it, I tossed it. Because even with me constantly wanting change and rearrangement, I have a problem with letting things go. I become attached to objects and hate throwing them out. A lot what was filled in the boxes was old junk that I thought was cool or worth keeping, even if it were old parts from a toy or a bolt or a broken pen. I wanted change, wanted things out of my room, but didn’t want to actually give anything up. So in the closet it went.

After throwing a lot of junk away, I donated an entire bag of my clothes and made room for the clothes I actually wear on the regular in my closet, all in one place. With all of the old stuff out of the closet, I’m now able to fit my tiny dresser and shoe rack in the closet, freeing some space in my room. It felt good to get rid of that old stuff, even when it was hard. And it was fun to find all the things I used to have and play with, to play with them again. I kept those two boxes worth of my favorite things, but the rest had to go. It was time.

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Large bag of clothes ready to donate.

The whole experience was cathartic and freeing. I no longer feel a strange weight I’d felt every time I opened my closet and looked down at all the stuff piled up, feeling guilty that it was there in the first place.

My advice: go clean that thing you’ve been meaning to clean. That closet, a cupboard, the drawer that won’t open in the bathroom and you don’t even remember what’s in there, your attic, the basement if you have one. It takes a lot of work and energy but it feels so good to go through it all and have more space for the things that matter to you now.

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The incredible end result. I’ve never been more excited to open my closet in the morning to get dressed.

I started reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo just after I did the closet, and I’m not very far into it, but I like what’s being said. I’m inspired by it and maybe I’ll go further with this tidying thing, do an overhaul of all my stuff—all at once, as the book suggests. Maybe there will be an updated post about it in the future!

That’s all for now!

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