Summer camp is over, and I’m once again home during the days—left alone to build the foundation of a new life. I’m hoping to find some kind of part-time or temporary job soon, but in the meantime I’m focusing on conquering a few personal demons.
I’ve previously written about my struggles with keeping my apartment clean, and tackling the beast that is the “guest room.” Taking advice from a friend, I started reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo for some inspiration and guidance. Kondo’s philosophy, it turns out, centers around the idea that in order to truly clean, you must first discard the things you don’t need.
I’ve always been bad at getting rid of things. I get sentimental. Everything I have reminds me of a specific time in my life—trinkets from a claw machine remind me of a vacation I took with friends, worn out t-shirts remind me of sophomore year of high school, and on, and on. But I’ve come to see that living in the midst of all of this clutter leaves little space for the life I want to live.
This morning, I ventured into the Cave of Nightmares to see if I could spot a few things to quickly throw away. After removing a few boxes and bags of junk, I got stuck. Really stuck. And the culprit was teaching materials.
After I quit my teaching job in June, I planned to move on and switch fields. I have no reason to hold onto shelves of textbooks, binders full of worksheets, or notebooks full of teaching ideas. I don’t think I’ll ever need them again. Even if I did, there are libraries and online databases—not to mention a thumb-drive full of all of the materials I created or downloaded over the past few years.
This almost feels like the aftermath of a break-up. I can’t let go of these things, because they remind me of the good times in a past I can never return to—the optimism I felt when creating lessons for my students, and the investment I felt in giving them the best education I possibly could. It was, after all, a kind of love… even if the match wasn’t meant to be. If I throw these objects away, how will I know that this part of me—or this part of my life—existed? And what if I want to go back?
Marie Kondo would be shaking her head if she could see me now!
Maybe I’m not ready to get rid of these things yet, but I might be ready in a few months. From now on, I’m going to follow the book’s advice and leave the difficult decisions about what to discard until the end of the process.
I know I need to let go of the past to make room for the life I want to live, but there’s an art to letting go…