Periodically, I clean out my life. Whether it’s deleting files from my hard drive, emptying my iTunes library, selling oil clothes on eBay or finally throwing out bottles of shampoo that I’m never going to use, it feels great. A while back, I went through my laptop and external hard drive, deleting bookmarks and emails that I no longer needed. Especially when it comes to my digital life, I’ve often attached myself to things–files, data, etc. It’s easy to do this with documents and emails, because they don’t require any physical space, but because of my anxiety, I keep some sort of mental tally. I see the number of files and the names of folders fly past my eyes, and it makes me nervous, restless.
At first, deleting always causes me to feel a little fear. I think “What if I needed that again?” “What if I can’t find that file again, when I need it in the future.” But once the cleanup is done, once I convince myself to get off my ass and take out the trash or clean out that drawer or just to open that folder and start clicking, I feel such a sense of relief and lightness. I love clearing up that mental space. Spring cleaning helps to defragment my mind. I know what I have and where I have it, and I don’t worry about losing things, and part of me likes being somewhat-unencumbered.
I will never be completely free. I’m not the type who can pack a bag and travel the world, but I do like having just what I need and knowing that everything I need, I have. I don’t like clutter. My uncle recently asked me what I liked to collect and I said “Nothing! I hate clutter.” In fact, things like my computer and Kindle let me live with even less clutter. I’ve been cleaning out books and movies. I can honestly see a point in my life when I have neither.
But I haven’t always been organized, so while I’m making strides now, there’s a lot of past clutter to go through, or so it feels like. And I get pretty frazzled, or fragmented, when I try to keep track of things in my head. Other people simply forget about things until such is the time when they need to remember, but I’m not so good at forgetting. I don’t have enough back burners for all the mental flotsam and jetsam, so the only way I can feel less anxious is to get rid of as much as possible, which results in me literally getting rid of stuff.
So while I certainly love the remaining material things perhaps more than some people recommend that we do love things, I also recognize how unhealthy it is to love those things more than people. Because things are replaceable while people, for the most part, are not. Things provide me with tools and solutions, but people provide me with companionship and happiness. Still, both people and things can make my anxiety go crazy, so one thing I’m really trying to work on is to preventing myself from letting in and becoming close to people who are toxic and bad for my mental health. Just like the clutter of files or material things, they take a crazy toll on my mental faculties.
For the most part, I don’t have a lot of baggage, but I do tend to look at things in my life as though they are more baggage-y than they are. I suppose this is why I clear out as much as possible, so the remaining people and things are the type of baggage that, at the very least, I want to handle.