About once every summer, my mother and I make a concerted effort to clean my room out of books, magazines, and other paraphernalia which I am no longer actively reading or using. This has become an annual ritual because I tend to accumulate items rather quickly and inevitably run out of room to put it all. When I was younger, I detested cleaning out my room because I tended to form emotional attachments to just about every item I came across. I would become anxious, make noises out of nervousness and frustration, and pace around the room as my mother and I tackled the task of going through my “things” and deciding what stayed and what went. It took a great deal of time because she had to keep me calm and still deal with handling the clearing of my room. Now, however, I am more comfortable with letting go of some items, so the pain has significantly lessened.
Another change to this year’s room cleaning saw me taking the lead instead of my mother. In the past, it was she who looked at every item and helped me decide what to do with it. This year, I did this entirely on my own after she suggested a plan of action. She helped me to divide all of my items into four distinct groups, and I was left to carry out the process.
The first group of items stay in my room either for sentimental value or because I want to read or use the item. The second group is to be stored in bins downstairs in the basement; I may not want to keep the items in my room, but I still want to keep them in case I become interested in looking at them again in the future. The third group of items was reserved for giving away to others. The fourth group consisted of items which were of no value to me or anyone else I knew, and were disposed of.
I was pleased at how fast I made my way from one section of my room to the other, making decisions quickly and efficiently. I had many bookshelves that were full with all kinds of reading material, but I cleared many spaces as I went.
The two bookshelves on either side of my bed received perhaps the most thorough cleaning of all. Over the years, I have kept the contents of these shelves largely the same because they contain some of my favorite books, and I usually do not want them placed where I do not have quick access to them. This year, however, I found that, to my surprise, I could live without a number of book series and other items I had kept on the shelves. This freed up a lot of room which I filled in by taking books from different areas of the shelves and organizing them into different groups based on certain themes. This rearrangement served to get rid of a lot of clutter which had built up in recent years and organized my shelves in a more efficient manner. Of course, some parts of the shelves did not change at all, much to my delight. I do not think I will ever take any of my Dr. Seuss books, general information books, or “classic” story compilations off my shelves as I greatly cherish them.
All told, every portion of my room was thoroughly cleaned out and rearranged except for one set of shelves which contains a number of Winnie-the-Pooh, “Sesame Street,” Disney, and “classic” books which I have never altered.
I was surprised by how much I was willing to let go; it is usually an internal struggle for me to decide whether each and every item is worth keeping on my shelves. I am not sure why this did not occur this year. Perhaps it is because as I have grown older, I have become more mature, and I am able to make these kinds of decisions without obsessing over each and every item in my room. I know that I am now willing to leave some parts of my life behind, move on with others, and, at the same time, I can retain what is important to me. I am sure that my room will undergo further changes during next year’s cleaning, but I am delighted to know that I will be more comfortable making these changes.