When it comes to anything that has the potential to be sentimental, I’m the epitome of a hoarder. Pictures, which normally stay in stacks and tucked into my bookshelf. Torn paper wristbands from concerts. Movie ticket stubs (and I don’t mean like a special date; I mean literally any movie for any occasion). Old drawings from study halls, some displaying inside jokes that don’t make sense to me anymore. Notes, letters, birthday cards, graded assignments. Adidas soccer socks and gymnastic leotards and worn mitts from sports I’ve retired from. Countless printed t-shirts plastered with my school’s name. OK, maybe that doesn’t sound too out of the ordinary. But I’m fully aware that I have an excessively hard time when it comes to letting anything go. Even if it’s a stuffed animal from an ex I never want to see again, I still feel guilty getting rid of it. I have clothes I never wear, yet can’t bring myself to donate. I’ll deem a pair of jeans my “favorite” to justify why I can’t part with them, even though I haven’t unfolded them from the top of my closet in years.
Because I like to think I’m pretty good at self-evaluation, I can actually pinpoint the reason why I hold onto these things. I’ve always been a “misser.” I missed my hometown in Maine when I was at college. I miss being at college now that I’m home in Maine. I missed high school when I was done with it. I miss old friends that went separate ways for different reasons. I miss past experiences and moments. I’ll admit that, for me, nostalgia often doesn’t really feel that good.
As a result, my emotional attachments and struggles transfer to these physical objects. I know that. Because I can’t fully come to peace with moments and people being in my past, I feel this urge to hold onto tangible examples. That “favorite” pair of jeans has been to many bonfires; that plastic water bottle is from an event that they put on at my college. The thing is, I’m stuck in this suspension of not being able to let go of things, but also not being able to enjoy, appreciate, and cherish them. I have shoeboxes full of letters and pictures I won’t sit down and sift through. It’s hard for me to look at photo albums, and home videos not because I had a dark childhood, but for the opposite reason. I look back and get this feeling of sadness because I miss those blissful moments with my family.
With complete honesty, I can say that I’m in a good place right now. When I realistically think about it, I really don’t believe that I was any happier at those different stages of my life. In fact, I already know that in a few years, maybe even months, I’ll be looking back at this exact moment in time and once again go into my “misser” mode.
The point of this isn’t to implore you to get rid of everything. I don’t intend to throw away my boxes of letters. What I am saying is that if you can relate to anything I’ve just shared, be aware of how you feel and recognize that it’s OK to let go of not only material things, but also come to peace with the emotional attachment. Or rather, be able to determine the things worth holding onto, and grow towards accepting that they are meant to be in the past. I’ll end this with a quote that resonates with me. It comes from author Mitch Albom in his novel "Tuesdays With Morrie," and reminds me that we are meant to embrace past points in our life with happiness and fondness, even when it’s easy to be swept away in mistaking nostalgia for sadness:
“The truth is, part of me is every age. I’m a three-year-old, I’m a five-year-old, I’m a 37-year-old, I’m a 50-year-old. I’ve been through all of them, and I know what it’s like. I delight in being a child when it’s appropriate to be a child. I delight in being a wise old man when it’s appropriate to be a wise old man. Think of all I can be! I am every age, up to my own.”