Marie Kondo has taken over the cleaning and organizational world with a simple question: "Does it spark joy?" Kondo is an acclaimed Japanese author and tidying expert who has an original show on Netflix along with four books on the topic. She is most well known for the KonMari Method, which she utilizes to help create a calm, clutter-free environment for people to live in. The most notable portion of the method involves keeping only the items that "spark joy" and then individually thanking all other items before donating or disposing of them.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am a certified neat freak and germaphobe, so it was no surprise that I became instantly fascinated with Marie Kondo's methods for tidying up. However, I did not actually begin using her methods in my own life until I moved home from college. When I had to pack up all of my stuff after finishing my first year of college, one thing became very clear: I had A LOT. Most of the stuff consisted of clothes, books, papers, and honestly just some knick-knack clutter that had piled up. Honestly, it was so messy that it was starting to make my life feel cluttered and unorganized, which is a major source of anxiety for me. I didn't want to be in my room because I couldn't stand looking at the piles of miscellaneous things. So, once I moved home and began unpacking I decided that I needed to tidy up my life and get rid of the excess stuff that I didn't need or use and the things that were creating clutter. I started with my clothes.
To begin, I took everything I owned and made a big pile. I always considered myself a pretty minimalist consumer, but this pile quickly proved me wrong. Following Marie Kondo's method, I individually picked up each of my items and asked myself a simple question: "does this spark joy for me?" I continued this process for several hours and even had to repeat it a few days later because I still felt like I had too much after the first cycle.
One of the most obvious things I noticed is that I had a lot of t-shirts. Middle school track T-shirts, college t-shirts, concert t-shirts, destination t-shirts - you name it and it was probably somewhere in my drawer. Despite being an avid t-shirt wearer, realistically I didn't need tons of t-shirts when I wore the same seven all year. I had been holding on to them because they were constantly being worn, had some sort of sentiment attached to them, or had just gotten lost in the shuffle of the packing and unpacking that occurred this year.
As I sorted through all of my t-shirts and other clothes, I was forced to reflect on the material possessions in my life. I was given the opportunity to become more mindful about the possessions I owned and the role that they were playing in my life. I learned the difference between what sparked joy in my life and what was just taking up space or collecting dust. But, this was not easy. I had a hard time letting go of some possessions and realized that over time I had attached memories or emotions to specific objects I owned. I felt bad about getting rid of a concert t-shirt or the sweater I wore on my first date because I had unconsciously linked the memory with the object. But, throughout this experience, I was able to dissociate the memories I had from the objects I possessed. I realized that the memories of vacations and graduations were not disposable, unlike the clothes I attached them to and that the memories weren't being stored in the fabric of my wardrobe. This was a huge turning point for me and enabled me to let go of way more clutter and clothes than I thought was possible.
But perhaps the most important lesson I learned is that this method isn't something you implement once in your life and then never again. This is because what sparks joy at one moment in your life, may cease to do so in the future. For example, the Phineas and Ferb matching t-shirt I owned with my best friend definitely sparked a lot of joy when I was eleven, but it does not spark that same feeling of joy years later. When this happens, you can use Kondo's method to thank each possession for the joy it brought into your life and then let it go to hopefully bring that same joy to someone else. The method becomes an important factor in reevaluating in order to ensure that at any moment in your life, you are surrounded by things that spark joy and can make room for the new joy that's on its way.
After my introductory and perhaps elementary experience, I can proudly say that the pile at the beginning is more than 75% smaller than it was previously. I am determined now more than every to Marie Kondo my whole life: my clothes, books & papers, even my relationships, and activities I am involved in. I gained so much from such a small experience, including more space in my t-shirt drawer, and I want to continue exploring the benefits of living more simply and more organized. I enjoyed the feeling of accomplishment that came throughout this process and the lighter feeling associated with having less stuff. While I still probably have too many t-shirts, I have downsized considerably and kept only those that sparked joy (like my 2016 Fifth Harmony t-shirt that has faded from black to grey). I want to continue to be on a path towards finding what sparks joy in my life and this method is definitely helping me accomplish that.