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I say this the way people usually say that they're alcoholics or chain smokers or something equally evil. Because being a pack rat is an evil thing. But the thing is, I always have been a pack rat. I remember how my mom dumped all of my toys in one corner of my room, forcing me to climb onto everything just to find my favorite toy, until I eventually tired of this and decided to clean up after myself.
My weakness has always been paper. I hang on to all kinds of paper, from old handouts to faded receipts and movie tickets. Filing my paperwork last week was a pain in the butt, but somehow I managed to clean up my work space. And since my room is now my new workspace as a full-time freelancer, I decided that I needed to be ruthless and throw things away.
And so I took a trash bag and started dumping things on my table and on the floor, deciding which ones to keep and which ones to toss. Going through everything made me realize how much useless things I had been hanging on to. Imagine, I had a box filled with ballpens that I must have saved from the last cleanup tucked away inside a cabinet, and now they're all dried up because I had forgotten they were even in there.
And even after tossing those dried up ballpens, I was still left with this many working ballpens. Just how many ballpens does a writer need? Maybe one in every color, sure, if I'm feeling artsy or OC. But still, there are just too many ballpens, and I'm sure it got this way because every time the pen I was using ran out of ink, I decided to buy a new one instead of looking for another working pen already in my possession. Lesson learned: take a look at what you have now before you go out and look for something new.
Because really, it's the appeal of new things coupled with the refusal to let go of the old things that give pack rats like me a headache. You always tell yourself that you might need it eventually so you keep it, but then you keep it and forget about it, and are later lured by the nice and shiny newer versions of the old things you already have. Cleaning up requires so much discipline. I really had to tell myself that I am keeping these things and using them because I refuse to spend money on something that I already have anyway. So here's to not buying ballpens and notebooks for the next five years!
Buried within all that junk were some sweet memories, like these Christmas cards from my old job. Sure, they don't have any use for me anymore (especially since we've all gone our separate ways), but it's nice to look back on little things like these that bring back the good times. So just as I always have, I kept old letters and notes from old friends, even from those who I haven't heard from in decades. Because at some point in your life, you shared something together, you meant something to each other, and that's not something you just throw away. So even if you're cleaning up, hang on to the things that matter (and know what these things are!).
And then I found these! Identification cards from different stages in my life: ages 11, 15, and 21, to be exact. Looking at these made me realize how far I've come from that eleven-year-old girl who was just starting to play the piano again, or the fifteen-year-old girl that went on all sorts of crazy adventures with her best friends, or even the twenty-one-year-old girl that didn't quite know what she wanted to do with her life after college. Cleaning up forces you to look at all the stuff you've hung on to through the years, and ultimately it gives you a clue on what you consider worth hanging on to. What I've realized from this cleanup is a lot of the things I was hanging on to are not worth it. So much baggage, so many useless things taking up precious space. When you realize what's worth hanging on to, letting go becomes so much easier.
I'm happy that I got to clean up my space, and I'm hoping that I can truly commit to keeping it this way. It feels much better now, to know that everything I've kept has a purpose, and that everything has its proper place. Here's hoping that the pack rat in me doesn't rear its ugly head again!