I will probably never be featured on a show about hoarders, with dramatic shots of me climbing over mountains of books and rotting Panera Bread bagels. However, I found that I had accrued quite a bit of clutter during my time at college. Because of this, I decided that it would be a good idea to make one of my twenty-one goals involve decluttering my life. I decided to break this goal down into two categories: 1) declutter my material life 2) declutter my virtual life.
I thought that it would be hard to begin the process of ridding myself of belongings that I didn’t use or need, but it was not. I started during my finals week at college, and the process was much more simple than I thought it would be. I worried that I would have moments where something would be thrown out and I would be outside in the dumpster searching for things that I regretted throwing away an hour later. Thankfully, I really do not have hoarding tendencies and did not experience such desperation to retrieve my discarded belongings. Instead, I found that it was incredibly freeing to put items in piles to either throw away or donate to Salvation Army. In the end, I was happy to have gotten rid of multiple bags of belongings that I rarely used, and I was able to leave college feeling less burdened by clutter than I was when I moved in.
The next part of my life that I needed to tackle was my virtual clutter. I knew that I needed to take care of it, but I was avoiding doing so until I left college. The reason for this is because I had a habit of accepting any friend request that I received, if that person was a student at Cedarville. I did this, not because I have a creepy, cult-like love of all things Cedarville, but because I figured that I had met the person at some point and should probably acknowledge that meeting by accepting their virtual token of friendship. Because of this, I ended up with a few hundred “friendships” with people whom I was convinced I had never actually met. So once I was safely off-campus, I got to work on the task of cleaning out my list of friends.
The idea of cleaning out a list of virtual friends may be daunting to some, but I handled it with the cold efficiency of a sociopath. I set aside a good ten minutes and began scrolling through my entire list of friends. Whenever I saw a name I a) didn’t recognize b) barely remembered c) never talked to anymore, I would go ahead and click “unfriend”. It took even less time than I had imagined, and before long, I was at 245 friends on Facebook. A number so low may send some people into shock, but it is very comforting to me. It means that I am now connected with the people whom I genuinely know and interact with on a semi-regular basis. That means that I have over 200 solid friendships, which I am very happy to know.
So what has this decluttering changed? Not much. I think that decluttering is not an activity that should happen once in a person’s life; rather, it should be an ongoing process. In doing so, one will have a healthier relationship with both material belongings and virtual relationships. I am not suggesting that everyone should do exactly what I did, but you may be surprised at how rewarding a little decluttering session can be every once and a while.