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To Keep or Not To Keep? That is the Question!

Growing up, I was a pack rat. I am not sure if that was a “born in me” trait, or if it developed over time as a result of moving frequently during my childhood. Either way, I have collected a large assortment of keepsakes that have filled our basement. I am unsure if it was losing my grandma in May and helping my mother empty her house, or just a product of getting older, but I decided this summer to purge our basement. What a work in progress it has been, and although I am not done, I am proud of my commitment to this project so far.

Picture it–many, many crates and boxes filled with memorabilia. New Kids on the Block t-shirts and pins? Check. Stuffed animals dating back to 1985? Check. A children’s dictionary won in a third-grade spelling bee? Check. The list goes on. I have to be honest, sometimes I am in shock that I am finally, finally, willing to part with my “treasures.” What has changed? I keep asking myself that question. What HAS changed? I honestly don’t know. I wish I could answer it because I would concoct an elixir to help others clear out a space!

I have been reflecting a lot on my life and acknowledging something that I have repeatedly told my clients... It’s okay to let go of things from a previous period in your life. It may be sad or difficult, or maybe a combination of both, but it can also be a relief to realize that the memorabilia that you kept for a certain reason may not elicit the same feelings it did before. The stuffed animal my parents sent me during my freshman year of college? I still love it, but it doesn’t make me feel the “missing home” emotions I had in 1996. It is time. Time to pass it on to someone who will love it and hopefully create new memories. Sure, there are also items that I kept–my pin jacket from 1987? Absolutely a keeper! But there are also things that went into the garbage bag. There were some treasures I forgot I even still had and some things that I saw and immediately said, “toss” and moved on. I am thankful for the Everything is Free group online in my town–I made some connections with people over items that they (hopefully!) will love. I also donated items to a local organization that picks up at your front door. It doesn’t get much easier than that!

The only response I have to the question “What has changed?” is that I think I have. So many of the items I had kept, I simply continued to keep because I had already kept them for so long! Silly logic, maybe, but felt like such a weight off to unburden myself and our basement of these items that no longer serve a purpose or provide me with the feeling of nostalgia. As I continue to work on the basement, I know I will find more “keepers,” but the reality is that I have gotten more choosy about what I keep. I ask myself, why am I keeping this? My mom laughs when I explain to her how surprised I am that I am getting rid of so much. I earned the title of pack rat for a reason, but now I am seeing the benefit of letting go. I hope as you consider going through your treasures, you can feel a sense of relief purging items, too. Be patient with yourself and reward yourself after a job well done! You deserve it.

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