As we get older, we grow out of things like clothes and shoes, or grow out of interests in certain books, hobbies or toys. With that comes developing a collection of clothes and items that are shoved into the back of a closet or in a storage room — forgotten about until one day you go through it and find your favorite toy as child.
This summer has already been filled with going through old boxes in the garage and stored away childhood toys in the closet. As I made three piles — keep, give away and throw away — I realized how it has benefited me mentally.
There is something fulfilling and satisfying about growing the giveaway pile and throw away pile — dropping the items off at Goodwill or a shelter, selling it or filling up the trash can. It comes to a point where you have to get rid of the old to be able to welcome in the new.
Not only are you cleaning and clearing up your living spaces, but you are clearing up your mind. Sometimes we get too attached to the past and we can’t let go. You can’t live in the present and future if a part of you is still living in the past.
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It is important to keep materials and pieces from your past that are sentimental, but sometimes it's easy to find sentiment in too many pieces. So, a piece of advice I have taken into account is, if you find clothes or toys that you have completely forgotten about up until you rummaged through a box, get rid of it. Keep the items that truly shaped your childhood and have stayed in your memory up until this day, because those are the things that you will remember later down on the road.
The physical environment that you live in can affect your mental health either positively or negatively. If you live in an environment that’s cluttered and not organized, it can not only be a bother but a burden. It can affect your work ethic and bring on mental health issues. With that comes not being able to truly spread your wings and fly, because your mind will always be on that one room that needs to be cleaned up.
Not only does having a clean environment help with mental health, but it also helps keep the past in the past — the good and the bad. It's okay to give away pieces that hold rich memories, because sometimes there comes a time where you have to let it go and just hold on to the memory. In terms of the bad, giving or throwing away an item that holds a negative memory is a way of being able to move on from whatever happened and progress in life.
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Life will continue to evolve and advance, and you can’t always rely on the time passing to move forward. You have to be able to have a clear mind to move on to the next step in life, and sometimes cleaning what was shoved in a box 10 years ago can help with that.
Natalie Fitzgibbons (she/her) is a junior standing studying journalism with a minor in American Studies.