To avoid any disappointment, this is not another ‘Kondo the hell out of it’ story. Quite frankly, I hope you know how to fold your pants and put them in an organized way to your closet. This is a story about how a simple life decision to embark on a solo travel journey turned into an unexpected life declutter.
The old city, a fresh start
After travelling for seven months, I returned to Amsterdam. I admit it was a bit of a weird feeling. The city didn’t change much, but I did. I moved to the new apartment, ready for a fresh start in this cozy city. Few months into settling down, I invited my colleague over for the very first time. And, as it is a habit with first-time visitors to your new place, tour de house followed. When I showed her around, she put one plus one together and realized I didn’t bring back too much of my stuff after I returned. Shockingly, she asked: “ Is this all you own right now?”
How did we get here
Over a year ago, I decided to leave Amsterdam, to pack all my belongings and set out for my solo travel. One of the goals I had set for myself was to keep it practical. I didn’t want to drag a ton of baggage with me through airports or anywhere I went. How many things do you need in the end? Your passport, your credit card and well few clothing items.
It was only at this point I realized how many things I’d accumulated over five years of living in my old apartment — so much crap. Therefore, I decided to go through some declutter. Our old apartment turned into a donating centre, a shop and a clothes swap centre. Despite the initial struggle and emotional attachment to things that were getting in my way, letting go of the majority of my stuff never felt better.
One luggage and a small backpack were all I had with me for the next seven months. Toward the end of my travels, I went through another round of decluttering and brought one more bag of clothes over to a local donation centre.
Moving fast forward to the present, not much has changed besides a few items on top of everything else I’ve already owned. I could still pack everything I own and move to a new place within one-two days maximum.
The most important life’s exercise
Going through the decluttering process doesn’t mean you will suddenly end up with one pair of jeans, shoes and a T-shirt only. Or you will stop shopping or wanting to buy other things. But chances are, you might end up wearing the same T-shirt maybe two days in a row! I wonder if this sounds like a fashion tragedy to the majority of people out there.
To me, it seems like a perfect way of removing the hustle of what to put on every morning. Mainly, because I can see all the things I have in my closet and create simple combinations. What is the best part about it? I love and feel comfortable wearing every single clothing item I own. In the end, what’s the purpose of your clothing items? It’s not to stay in your closet with the same label and price tag on since the purchase.
Why do we place so much importance on all of these things we own?
Very often, physical clutter is a manifestation of emotional clutter. When I removed all the unnecessary items from my living space, I instantly felt better, happier. I wasn’t anxious about excessive baggage in my life anymore. Instead of figuring out what to do and where to put all this stuff that didn’t have much value for me anymore, I could focus on more important things.
If you are having a hard time imagining if this could be possible, think about the following. What value your things bring you every single day? Do you feel the same about all of them?
The best part about decluttering is that you can apply it to all aspects of your life, not only the material part of it.
Being away and having some time for myself was a great way to look back and get a fresh perspective on all the things that were throwing my life out of balance, including relationships, work life, how I spent my time and my values.
How the hell to approach time decluttering?
For me, being away, travelling solo and becoming a king of my own time again (even for a short while), was a great way to take control over how I want to spend it and with whom. And while I do like to keep myself busy, I learnt that less is more, taking time for yourself is essential. Spending time on activities and people you want to be with and not just, so you don’t feel FOMO is way better than be everywhere and do everything. Most importantly, it’s okay to say no to meeting someone, even if that someone is your friend and you don’t necessarily have anything else planned out. It’s your time, own it.
Some relationships are easier to let go than others
I borrowed this simple but very true statement from The Minimalists duo:
“The only honest way to describe our relationships is, it’s complicated!”
Mind-blowing, I know. And, you probably wouldn’t use the same decluttering strategy for stuff as you would for relationships. But by asking ‘Do you get the best out of a relationship or do YOU GIVE the best to a relationship’? Could be a way around it.
Being honest with myself about my relationship was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. While removing toxic or those pretentious relationships was easier than I thought, letting go of others, no matter how much you wish to keep them in your life, was way harder. At times I still wonder if I made the right choice.
What about the mental clutter?
I left the mind to be the last one on my decluttering list on purpose. Even though, my mind was the reason I decided to go through this at all.
So how the hell to declutter your mind? If you don’t know where to start, to start with the most straightforward step is always the best. After I removed all the unnecessary crap from my life, I felt almost instantly better. It felt as if a lot of weight was lifted from my chest. I started spending less time worrying about where to put or what to do with my possessions. I started focusing more on how and with who I want to spend my time.
It’s nice to live a life in a less stressed way and have the ability to set your mind free. Free from toxic relationships, free from stressing over clutter, free from the constant, ongoing buzz of tents of meetings you have scheduled ahead, free from doing things you didn’t want to do or buy in the first place. It feels good to have an option of setting your mind open, allowing it to find a balance again.
As they say…Free your mind and the rest will follow.