Moving on from old memories Marie Kondo Style
December 30, 2017 11:10 PM   Subscribe

In honor of my 30th birthday + New Year's falling around the same time, I am doing my annual cleaning of the closets and am trying to decide whether I want to go full Kondo or not on some of my childhood treasures. What did you gain the most satisfaction from throwing away, and what do you regret getting rid of after doing a similar purge?

I want to start my 30s with less baggage. Two of the big things I'm struggling to decide on are photos of my friends from middle school and high school and old school work that I've kept for 15 years because it still holds meaning for me. But it's all just stuff, papers and things that make me feel shy or sad or sometimes fond. I will never see those people I was friends with again. I don't want to. And then I also have a few boxes full of little trinkets and toys I used to tote around everywhere because they were sources of tremendous comfort when I found myself in situations where I just needed to retreat into my mind for a while. I can't decide if continuing to hold on to all these memories is holding me back or keeping me grounded.

Where did you draw the line when you began to process all of your childhood things like this? Do you have any regrets? Why?
posted by Hermione Granger to Grab Bag (10 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
The photos and papers are fairly simple: scan them (or photograph or what have you) and put them on a thumb drive or store in the cloud. You might do this with the trinkets as well. I recently tossed old yearbooks and scrapbooks, photographing the few pages that still had meaning to me. You might occasionally think of them. That's OK. There are very few things you'll actually miss. Life is lighter and easier with fewer "things." Good luck!
posted by cyndigo at 11:45 PM on December 30, 2017

I have routinely purged my belongings because I have moved/downsized over time in NYC finally to a 500 sq. ft. studio with less storage/locker space.

The only things I felt at all badly about tossing were: two things that were inadvertently tossed because boxes were mismarked and I did not check carefully; and something that I was persuaded to toss by sig other, and I would have preferred to hold on to. Those things were my fault because I was not careful/was not in touch with my feelings.

I've kept the items I do care about, the books I want to actually hold and re-read. All other books are on e-readers. The objects I have matter to me, remind of special people or special times.

Photos and papers are scanned. The problem is paper! I struggle with that always.
posted by alwayson_slightlyoff at 1:02 AM on December 31, 2017

I have reduced everything like that to one small shoebox. If I want to make space for it in one box then I know it really matters. If not, then not. Choose how much space you are willing to devote to memories and then let the objects fight it out for the privilege of taking that space.
posted by lollusc at 3:11 AM on December 31, 2017 [13 favorites]

Yeah, photos and papers can be scanned and stored digitally, likewise you can photograph physical objects that you want to remember, but rarely if ever actually have out of storage. I did this with a bunch of my kidhood stuff when my parents moved some years back and it was definitely liberating... and I haven’t missed any of that stuff since.

That being said, it’s also OK if your gut tells you that you can’t part with a thing right now. Revisit it in a couple of years and you may be surprised by how much less attachment you feel to it; that’s been my experience as I marched into middle age.
posted by Funeral march of an old jawbone at 7:13 AM on December 31, 2017 [2 favorites]

Like lollusc, all of my paper memories are confined to a shoebox. Unlike lollusc, mine is actually a large box from a pair of boots, but same concept.

The box is always full, but that means I have to go through and cull every year or so. It's easier to toss the sash from your bachelorette party when you have the last card your aunt sent you before she died. The small hotel soap makes way for a picture a small relative drew. Stuff like that.
posted by kimberussell at 8:04 AM on December 31, 2017 [1 favorite]

I got rid of everything. No regrets.
posted by metasarah at 10:38 AM on December 31, 2017 [2 favorites]

Pick a box. Shoebox, office paper box, pretty storage box (Marshall's/ TJ Max/ Home Goods usually has a good selection). That's your memory box. Keep only as much as will fit in that box. For me, a picture of my picture in the newspaper, or that awesome love letter does not have the same feeling as the newspaper page or the actual letter. YMMV
posted by theora55 at 10:40 AM on December 31, 2017

You don't have to do it all at once! Going through them and choosing to keep them is also fine!

A little context:I did an actual Kondo purge last year when I turned 30, after having cleaned out and brought home part of my childhood bedroom. If you haven't yet, the structure of purging things with less connection first (clothes and kitchen stuff) really helped tune up my sense of whether an object really "sparked joy. I talked about it with myself as recognizing the pull that object had on me and then examining the feeling to see where it came from, then giving myself permission to keep it or not once I'd gone through the full examination. Or, in short, making the discarding not as important as the examining of the emotional connection I felt to the object. Not surprisingly, it often turned out to be a lot easier to discard the thing once I'd processed it emotionally. I scanned pictures, took pictures of silly notes and doodles on my schoolwork, and really took time to appreciate who I was in these different strata of my life. But while I threw a lot away, I also kept the things I'd found out I wasn't ready to see go yet. I only recently did another sweep and found I was ready to let more go, and there are some really silly inconsequential little things that I'm happy to keep for another 30 years. The difference now is that I know why I have them and have made the conscious choice to carry them with me, instead of just pulling them in my wake like the fidgety anxious comet that I was and sometimes still am.
posted by theweasel at 11:09 AM on December 31, 2017 [6 favorites]

Scan the papers, for sure. Take pictures of 3-dimensional items, and back up everything.

There are somethings that I just can't get rid of because the tactile experience of holding them is too important to me--a letter concerning my father's death, for instance, the only toy left, books that I read as a girl, that my kids read, that my granddaughters have read in their turn. I give them shelf space, because perhaps the grandkids will read them.
posted by BlueHorse at 1:25 PM on December 31, 2017

Re little trinkets and toys; you can put them in a display case or arrange them in a shadow box, and hang them on the wall. Then they can bring you joy and take up less space.
posted by emjaybee at 3:26 PM on December 31, 2017 [1 favorite]

« Older Risks of self identification in Canada   |   nightmare Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.