I grew up in a house full of things. There were thousands of books, a spare room/storage unit, I was encouraged to keep the few things I wanted to dispose of, and my room was cluttered. When I left home to study medicine, I surrounded myself with stuff, to feel settled. I moved house yearly but never really thought to discard anything, I just packed it all up. Stuff was a comfort and escape from negative feelings, though I didn’t see this at the time. I thought: “Why should I change, why give up my things?” The answer is growth. Instead of confronting my fears and my self, I clung to belongings and was invested in stuff as part of my identity.
After graduating and working for a while as a doctor I lost someone close to me. This huge change forced me to admit I was on the wrong path and I quit medicine. I went through phases of grief, one where I trawled charity shops to find things. This brought another temporary comfort, but was really a mask for my emotions.
I changed course and completed a degree in Textiles. My dissertation was on how artists’ stuff affects their practice, so I observed my home studio. There were too many sentimental objects, so I moved them out. This helped my focus and I felt a real sense of achievement. Crucially I began to understand my relationship with my stuff; a buffer from emotion, linking me to who I used to be. To move forward I had to accept that it was ok for me to change and my stuff to change with me. This however, took time! When clearing out possessions in the past I was never fully satisfied; I’d dither and then keep too much. But when decluttering last year I let things go gladly. I’ve stopped buying things as a habit, even from charity shops.
Forming boundaries with stuff means my home is almost how I’d like it to be. I started using my local library and am being selective with purchases. I’ll spend more money if it’s for something that will last, and I’m more confident in my choices because I’ve practiced my decision making. If it’s something I’ll use, need or just want, then I know it’s right. I enjoy having stuff, (I collect postcards, fabric, art supplies, objects, photos…) I’m not a minimalist! But I made my home function well and look beautiful.
So, it’s been a long journey from averagely messy teenager to Professional Organiser. The learning never stops and I love reading more about it all. Your surroundings can make a huge difference to well-being, and knowing that I’m helping people to enjoy their homes makes me feel great!
In this Blog I hope to share my thoughts about tidying, its effect on people and why it matters.
Thanks for reading!