Socially acceptable hoarder?

After writing my January Declutter post, I went back through my archives to re-read some of the things I’d said about decluttering in the past. I’ve been thinking a lot about the ideas of minimalism or living simply in recent months and, as a result, about how and why I had so much to get rid of. Six years ago, I was living in a tiny (less than 300 square feet) apartment and I seemed to manage with the small amount of stuff I had. But, now, in my twice as large apartment, I seem to have accumulated enough stuff for three versions of myself.

I think that I hit the nail on the head in one of my older posts: “…the more places I have to put things, the more I will own…”

At the time, I didn’t have that much stuff, but I had a lot of second hand stuff that I didn’t like (ex: things that had been good enough when I was too poor to get the best-for-me option). I tend to collect things. Things that are pretty. Things that might be useful. Things I’d like to do eventually when I have enough time but that’s never going to happen because I have too many other projects on the go but I might as well get it anyway because it’s really cool and I can just do it first or maybe second or at least before next Christmas …

Have I become a hoarder of sorts? I know most people who know me or who have seem my place would say no, but I think I might be. Yes, all my things are neat and tidy. Yes, I have a tonne of floor space. Yes, I hardly have any clothes. But!:

  • I buy things on a whim
  • I buy storage solutions to hold the things that I bought on a whim
  • I don’t get around to using half the things I bought on a whim (patterns, craft supplies, etc.)
  • Despite being only one person, I filled up a 650 square foot apartment and had (until recently) three full closets, a kitchen of full cupboards, and two shelves crammed full of even more things
  • I sometimes have a really hard time getting rid of things

This last point is multi faceted. I have a hard time getting rid of things for several reasons:

  • Because I sneak them back in (“Oh, well, maybe I’ll read that book after all” or “Technically, I do have space for it, so maybe I’ll hang onto it until I’m sure I don’t need it”)
  • Because I worry that someone will be mad at me about getting rid of something that was mom’s or that had been in the family
  • “Just in case”

I’ve known about the first for a while, so I tend to package things up so I can’t see them and then get them out of the house as quickly as possible. I don’t know why I worry about the second because I got rid of most of that sort of thing when I moved to Alberta and my family still speaks to me. Also, if it’s old (like an old doll who’s material was fragile enough to tear with minimal effort) or damaged, why keep it? I’m not even keeping old letters or postcards (the few I wanted to remember were scanned).

“Just in case” seems to be the one I have the hardest time with. I think it stems partly from the fact that I was really poor for a while, so it was better to keep things just in case as I didn’t know if I would be able to afford things if the need arose. I don’t seem to have gotten over that.

Of course, there’s also the sustainability factor: I used to be a dedicated environmentalist. I didn’t just recycle, I also paid to offset carbon from my travel, purchased things with minimal packaging, never ordered things online if I could just as easily buy them in person, etc. I’ve kept some of those practices, but not all of them. In my head, it makes sense to keep boxes and bottles that could be re-used, but I never re-use them. So, maybe I just need to stop accumulating them!

Regardless, I need to think about how and why I accumulate things. I also need to think about how I can make things easier for me to avoid accumulating things. Maybe I’m a hoarder, maybe I’m not. I just know that I feel a lot better after this last declutter. I even feel more excited about working on some of the crafts and projects that I did keep. And, I think that if I approach things as a possible hoarder, I will have an easier time saying no because I won’t just be asking if I need/love it, I’ll also be asking myself if it’s just my inner hoarder trying to accumulate stuff.


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