This weekend I cleaned out my closet. This wasn’t just any cleaning, this was basically a closet transformation. Inspired by the book, The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up, I took everything out of my closet and piled it on my bed. Then I held each shirt, each pair of pants, every shoe, and yes, even every piece of underwear, and asked myself “Do I actually like this?”
I decided to only keep things I like and get rid of everything else. Today, my wardrobe is almost exactly half the size it was on Friday, and I feel GREAT. In fact, I feel better than great. I feel LIGHT and FREE.
Letting Go Of The Weight
I let go of an incredible amount of “weight” in my closet. In fact, the heaviest thing, both literally and metaphorically, was my varsity jacket from high school. Before you think of me as a super athlete I will confess that my varsity letter was in tennis…and I’m pretty sure we had the worst tennis team in the State of Michigan, quite possibly the worst in all of North and South America.
Here’s the thing about my varsity jacket: I never liked it. I didn’t like it the moment I picked it up from the store (we had to special order it) and I haven’t liked it a single moment since. I didn’t like the way it fit, I didn’t like the way it looked, I especially didn’t like how hard and stiff the leather sleeves were compared to my older brother’s varsity jacket. The sleeves on his jacket were like a well-used baseball glove that had been oiled and broken in for a decade. Mine were like pieces of brand new cardboard that had been rolled into the shape of a sleeve. They never softened up, not one bit.
I wore it (some) because it was expensive and my parents shelled out their hard-earned money for it. In fact, I felt guilty whenever I’d choose another jacket to wear to school. It also constantly reminded me that I did NOT earn my varsity letter in basketball, which I had always thought I would…until I got cut from the team my junior year (sniff, sniff).
How Long Can Someone Drag Around Something They Need To Let Go Of?
Do you know when I graduated from high school? 1985.
I’ve been dragging around that stupid jacket — that I NEVER liked — for over thirty years. I guess I thought if I crammed it in the back of my closet that I could basically ignore it, along with all the negative feelings I had for it (and because of it). But I’d been dragging those around for thirty years, too.
THIRTY YEARS. Sheesh.
About thirty hours after ridding myself of that stupid jacket, it seems incredibly silly that I had kept it sooooo long. It also feels incredibly great to let it go. I’m pleasantly surprised at how happy I am with the space I’ve created, both mentally and physically through this process. Of course, I got rid of more than just one jacket from my closet, but I realize now how big of a space that varsity jacket had been holding in my life.
Today I can’t help looking around at the rest of my belongings, rubbing my hands together with an evil grin and asking, “What’s next?” I’m sure every one of my possessions now fears for its life. Rightfully so. I’ve tasted a higher level of lightness and freedom, and I like it.
Have you ever given away an object that had this affect on you? What was it? Is there something in your life right now that you feel like you finally need to let go of that you’ve read this? Maybe it’s time.
P.S. a special note about the book, The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up that I mentioned above: Several different people told me recently how much they loved this book. Whenever that happens, I usually pick up the book and read it. So I did. I can’t say I loved it as much as my friends did (I found the author very repetitive) and I won’t be including highlights of the book on my blog like I do with books I love. BUT, it inspired me enough to tackle my closet, my books, and someday soon the storage boxes in my basement. If you struggle with cleaning up your stuff and getting your life more simple and tidy, it’s a quick read and it might help inspire you, too.