Anyone who knows me, or has been within a five mile radius of me over the past couple of months, will know that I have gotten dangerously into shedding. Shedding, decluttering, heartlessly throwing away, whatever you want to call it, I'm hooked to the point that the act in itself sparks joy. I am one smug eBay seller, Oxfam donator, dumpster filler.
A little bit of context: I'm no minimalist Insta pervert, Marie Kondo convert getting all #GoodbyeThings on your ass. I moved out of my south London flatshare last week, which in itself felt like a ripe time for a shedding, and hopped into a feathered love nest with le boyfriend. Being the car-less, shockingly weak creature that I am, I didn't much fancy trawling 28 years' worth of possessions in bin bags across TFL's intricate network. So I decided to ditch or sell as much as I could...and got on a bit of a roll. Based on absolutely no concrete calculations whatsoever, I'd estimate that I got rid of a good 70% of my stuff. Feeling smug, smug, smug.
If that weren't gross enough, I've also become one of those people who is almost evangelical about decluttering. Because, sweetie darling, shedding is about so much more than making your home easier to clean and a whole lot more Instagram-able. And that's what makes it so incredibly wonderful and ridiculous at the same time.
For me, the most wonderful/ridiculous benefit of decluttering is, by a long shot, the fact that it allows you to understand and appreciate who you are, rather than who you were or who you want to be. Together with our face, food and travel snaps, our home (or aspirational home) has got to be one of the most posted or pinned things out there. Therefore our home and, by extension, our possessions, are powerful signifiers of our identity, which we broadcast to the world both for our own sake and that of elusive 'other people'. Whether your tipple of choice is groaning bookshelves to denote your intellectual dexterity, or travel trinkets from Easter Island and Vietnam, we have become attuned to the idea that if we don't put it out there, people won't 'get' us.
Things become a whole lot more complicated when you cohabit, be that with friends, a partner/partners, family members, a sticky-fingered small human. Who (or, rather, who's stuff), gets the upper-hand in the self-expression game? And, if it's not you, does that mean your identity has somehow been subsumed by a sticky-fingered person?
The laboured point I'm making is that decluttering forces you to confront what you really hold dear. And in doing so you'll probably realise that a lot of your stuff could go in a time capsule as it is, in all honesty, totally unrepresentative of who you are. Here. Today.
As a stoic member of generation anxiety, I have spent more time in the past or in the hypothetical than I care to admit. Having some way to grasp and ground myself in who I am at this precise moment, even if that's someone who favours Glamour magazine over Argentine pulp fiction, is incredibly valuable and liberating.
So, crack out those big Ikea plastic bags, people, and have a wonderful, clutter-free weekend!