by Susan McCarthy
Everyday practice: Acknowledging that you've changed makes space for who you are.
Chances are that some of the boxes you’re storing in your garage, attic, basement, shed, or spare room may be connected to interests and hobbies you no longer engage in. At some point you may have been decluttering and realized that you no longer do woodworking, embroidery, scrapbooking, knitting, gardening, snowshoeing, etc.
But, instead of packing the items and passing them along to someone else with the interest, you thought, “I loved doing that; I bet I’ll get back to it someday. I should hold onto this stuff.” Maybe years have gone by and you still haven’t used these things.
“My Stuff Reminds Me of Who I Was”
When you have an interest or hobby, it becomes part of your identity. You’re a skier, quilter, painter, candlemaker, dancer, movie buff, and so on. Even if you haven’t participated in an interest in a while, you may still identify yourself that way because you own all the stuff associated with the hobby.
Sorting through these items and acknowledging your current life allows you to create physical and mental space for current and future interests.
“This Stuff Is Part of Who I Thought I’d Be”
Buying a yoga mat because you are starting a yoga class is fine. If you never return after one class but still think that someday you’ll be a yogini, then that yoga mat isn’t from a past interest but one for your fantasy-future.
We think that if we buy the supplies associated with a hobby then those items will be our incentive to develop that hobby or interest. Unfortunately, owning the items sometimes show us that we like the idea of the interest more than we care for the actions associated with that hobby.
(I’m thinking of the sewing machine, snowshoes, and sundry art supplies I never or rarely used … I thought I’d be more active in the winter – but I hate the cold; I thought I’d sew my own dance costumes – but I lacked the skill; I thought I’d learn calligraphy – but I have horrible handwriting.)
These items can be a challenge to get rid of because we spent money on items we didn’t use. Also, it can be just as difficult to give up the idea of who we could become as it is to release a past identity.
Make Space for the Present
Chances are that you have current, active interests and hobbies. And if life is busy and you don’t, that’s okay too. Clearing items from your past and fantasy-future interests and hobbies can alleviate some of the guilt you may be feeling from holding onto items you don’t use.
And if you reach out to friends, family, and coworkers, I’m guessing that you’ll find someone who is actively engaged in one of your not-a-hobby interests and would be thrilled to receive the supplies you’ve been holding onto.
Susan, chief (and only) organized squirrel at A Less Cluttered Life, pursues learning, practicing, and sharing information about the everyday habits that can lead to living a better life.