I hate getting rid of and letting go of stuff.  It is a real problem for me.  I am not going to compare myself to an actual hoarder because from what little I have seen of the show Hoarders, those people have a legitimate compulsive disorder.  But on a personal level, I do hold on to things for far too long.

I bring this up because this past Christmas, my dad informed all us kids that he was purging the house of everything we had been storing there for years.  My heart immediately dropped because I knew that 1) my small apartment is already out of storage space, and 2) I have stored a lot of stuff at my parents’ house.

Thankfully, it only ended up being about five boxes worth of stuff (my dad must not have checked the attic because I believe I have a bunch of boxes of books and old clothes still up there), so it was manageable.  However, it is a bit telling that my initial reaction was one of “oh shit, more stuff?!” as opposed to “oh sweet, I’ve been meaning to get that back from my parents.”

With that in mind, I decided to take stock of all the stuff I have accumulated and try to figure out what is just junk I’ve been holding onto.

Here is a brief list of things that I can see from my immediate vantage point that I know to be junk.

  • A ripped paper grocery bag full of DVDs. I’ve had this for about ten years at this point, though occasionally I have replaced the bag when it becomes too ripped.
  • A box of old CDs and a broken external hard drive. Every single one of the CDs is already in my digital library, and most of the cases are either empty or have a random CD in them.  I keep the broken external drive because maybe one day someone will fix it.
  • My old laptop from nine years ago. I keep this because I still need to get one specific song off of the hard drive.
  • A cheap, plastic statute I won three years ago for having “Sexiest Costume” at a Halloween party.
  • A plastic crate of old video game boxes. Most of the games are already on my Steam account or too old for my current computer to play.
  • A pair of broken headphones
  • A pair of headphones still nicely wrapped in plastic

That is all from a quick scan of one room.

That doesn’t count all the stuff out in the living room, in my car, or in the boxes in the basement.

Beyond just looking at one room or even the whole house, I have tried to figure out the mentality behind why I hold onto things for so long, and I think it comes down to a mindset of, “Well, I might need it someday.”

For example, my wife constantly makes fun of my iTunes collection and my classic iPod.
She asks me, “Paul, why don’t you get a new iPod?”
And I respond, “BECAUSE THE NEW ONES ARE TOO SMALL!  I COULDN’T FIT EVERYTHING ON IT!”
To which she inquires, “Do you really need all that music?  Can’t you get rid of some of it?”
And I retort, “NO!  YOU NEVER KNOW WHEN I MIGHT WANT TO LISTEN TO IT!”
And then I double-down with an example of how one time I really wanted to listen to a specific Dashboard Confessional song, but I had deleted it from iTunes two years earlier because I didn’t listen to Dashboard that often.  Now there I was two years later, unable to listen to “Again I Go Unnoticed” (the live acoustic version, not the studio version – I had that version) because I decided to try to whittle down my iTunes library.

To which she looks at me in exasperation.

One popular New Year’s resolution is to get rid of all your useless stuff, to de-clutter your life.  I’m not making that resolution.  I’ve made it before, gotten rid of a lot of stuff, and then replaced it over time with similar stuff.

Instead, I am going to try to work on my mentality.  Realize that by holding onto everything, I am devaluing the truly important things.  Accept that sometimes, I just need to let stuff go.

Paul Menn

Paul (’10) lives in Grand Rapids with his wife, Emma (’10), and cat, HandsomeMarcoCat. He loves board games, Babylon 5, and honey-curry chicken. Everything else is negotiable.

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