Did you recently buy into Japanese organizing consultant, Marie Kondo’s, methods for decluttering your life and now find yourself catatonic in a corner of your terrifyingly sparse bedroom? Are you also clutching the only pair of boots her rules said you could keep like the baby you weren’t sure you wanted, but now can’t imagine your life without? Then perhaps you need to rethink this life-changing endeavor, and revert back to what you know makes you feel good — surrounding yourself with stuff that protects you from your own feelings.
Lesson 1: Make re-cluttering a momentous occasion
Choosing to hold onto all your stuff, from your first teddy bear to that stranger’s scarf you took from that New Years party by accident, should be a joyful decision, not a difficult one. Once it’s made, there’s no turning back — from now on you’re going to be a person who buries their fears, disappointments and failures under towering piles of inanimate objects.
Lesson 2: Piles of clothes can act as that warm hug you haven’t gotten in a while
Go ahead and grab all of your clothes out of your closets and drawers and throw them on the floor. It looks a mess I know, but this is how you get to really appreciate your tendency to pad emotional distress with excess. It also makes for a soft landing when you inevitably throw yourself onto the pile and weep softly over all the pants that don’t fit you anymore, but refuse to donate in case you get a stomach flu. Feeling joyful yet, you materialistic monster?
Lesson 3: Just because you don’t read anymore doesn’t mean you don’t need your books
Do you think books arranged into a high order rainbow are pretty? Does the perfect symmetry turn the volume down on the noise in your brain? Then you definitely can’t get rid of your textbooks from AP Bio, or any of your 17 copies of The Mists of Avalon. Also you may not have a DVD player anymore, but if you oust your Sex and the City and My So Called Life box sets, you’ll screw up the complex color spectrum, and the chaos will remind you of how many 1099s you have to file as a freelance writer and that you really need to figure out Quickbooks before March, plus when was the last time you had a physical, and my god is it wine o’clock yet?!
Lesson 4: If an object sparks nostalgic regret, it goes on the shelf labeled “nostalgic regret”
This shelf should go right above your bed so you can always grab items off of it and sniff them until sense memory connects you to each specific moment of disappointment. Then you can just lie there fretting over that while you succumb to the weight of your weighted blanket.
Lesson 5: If you throw out something that someone gave you, they’ll know
They’ll figure it out the next time they come over. But they won’t tell you.
They’ll just stop loving you.
Lesson 6: Tackle emotional paralysis by category, not by room
It’s important to remember that no matter what room you walk into, there will inevitably be emotional landmines waiting for you in every drawer/medicine cabinet/husband’s coat pocket. Even if you get rid of the trigger items, the feelings they invoke are going to haunt you forever, so you might as well categorize them for more productive cry sessions on subway platforms.
Some popular categories you might use are: abandoned dreams, parental guilt trips, failures, sabotaged relationships, missed opportunities and dead pets.
Lesson 7: Rediscover your inner hoarder
Congratulations! You’ve achieved the ultimate goal of keeping everything you’ve ever bought, borrowed, or were given regardless of its importance in your life. Now you can successfully hide all of your bad feelings in there and probably never find them again! Go celebrate by eating all the contents of your refrigerator without checking the expiration date. You deserve it!
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Ally Hirschlag is a writer from Brooklyn who lives with mild anxiety over what her cats are doing in the other room. You can find her work at Mic, Upworthy, Teen Vogue, and elsewhere. Follow her on Twitter @allyhirschlag.