I haven’t been particularly happy this semester. I shopped way too many courses during Add/Drop and because of it ended up starting the semester off behind in two of my classes. I worked three jobs (including the late night weekend shift at Schwemm’s) and because of them I was operating on very little sleep. I also attempted to balance a club sport with a Varsity sport. I coped with the stress by drinking (coffee milkshakes) and watching around fifteen minutes of The Office each night. But the contentment that I got from those activities was fleeting and unhappiness quickly resettled.
Even when my best friend came to visit, I couldn’t enjoy sitting on the quad because of the throbbing anxiety that came from stillness. I needed to be moving, and she, as someone who cares about me, called me out on it. She pointed out that I was fidgeting nonstop and was giving off bad energy. It was all a matter of forcing myself to sit and face the anxiety – to think. It was uncomfortable, which is why it took several attempts. But doing so inspired me to have several honest conversations with my professors, quit two of my jobs, and give up the club sport that I had been looking forward to all summer. Clearing out the time-eaters allowed me time to start journaling again and return to decluttering my material possessions. The latter has been extraordinarily therapeutic.
When I arrived at Amherst, I had seven boxes of junk in storage. After weeks of decluttering despite my friends’ incredulous comments, I got rid of a lot of it. But it’s starting to get harder to get rid of the excess stuff. It’s fascinating, and a little scary, how attached I am to stuff that plays no role in my life. Like, I’ve got this really nifty typewriter that I never use. More often than not, I only use it when people visit and ask about it. I usually type them a little note like, “Hey You, isn’t this cool?”. Sort of proving to them that it works and isn’t simply for decoration. Truth be told, it’s been functioning as decoration so far this semester. I’ve also got this really cool pair of black dorky private-elementary-school-uniform shoes that I have never even worn outside. I don’t need them and I don’t know why I can’t get rid of them. Maybe the fact that I can’t get rid of my typewriter and a pair of shoes means something about my subconscious. Maybe not.
All in all, it feels really good to get rid of stuff. My mind always feels more spacious after getting rid of things. More room to think about who I am and what I want in my life. Which is why, to be honest, I think I subconsciously cluttered my life with activities and objects in the first place. To quote singer and songwriter Kate Nash in “Don’t You Want to Share the Guilt”: “Thinking is one of the most stressful things I’ve ever come across. And not being able to articulate what I want to say drives me crazy.” Who wants to think more? I often feel too cerebral as it is already. I often find myself unable to express ideas in class or directly tell people how I feel because I’m too busy calculating the different outcomes of being that vulnerable. It’s no wonder I was filling up all of my time so that I didn’t have time to think. But in reality, facing myself really isn’t that bad.
Like everything in life, the anticipation of an event paints the actual event to be either worse or greater than it actually will be. Honestly, I am so glad that I freed up my time and I’m planning on keeping it this way. In the past couple of weeks, I’ve seen two sunrises and one sunset and don’t regret having the time to be still and do so. I don’t know. Maybe you should try decluttering your life (of both time-suckers and material objects) and let me know if you feel any different.