Year in review: On learning to let things go

This is a first in a series of anecdotes I’m going to write about the year that was 2018.

If you know me well, you’ll know that I am a photography enthusiast. I’ve always steered towards the creative side, always have a desire to create something, but my enthusiasm, shall we say, for taking photos didn’t really take off until I was pregnant with my first child and got my first iPhone.

Fast forward several years later, I have another kid…and mountains of photos under my belt. I never deleted them. Instead, I accumulated photos the same way that a hoarder accumulates things–pile them on top of each other, until the space became unrecognizable.

My “space” in this case, was my iPhone storage, and cloud storage, and hard drive, and external hard drive. I uploaded my photos into the cloud, and hardly looked at them again. On my phone, I’d regularly look at my photos, but again…I felt a sense of nostalgia towards it, so I couldn’t bear to delete it. Besides, I am also an indecisive person by nature; thus, I couldn’t decide which ones were appropriate to delete.

You can see where this is going.

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I realized it eventually–that I needed to figure out how to let it all go. Not just my photos, but my things in general. My clothing and accessories are minimal in comparison to others, but at the same time, I have a very small space to store my things, so I couldn’t let it accumulate. And yet at one point or another during the year, I felt stifled by all the things I had, clothing mainly.

It’s like a mental game I’ve been playing with myself. I don’t have a lot of money, so I buy used things or things on sale. I grew up with little. These things have memories. Those still fits, etc. The battle continues…every excuse I can think of to not let go.

Sometime at the end of the summer, I finally realized this, and embarked on a journey to finally get rid of all those photos. Sure, I’ve taken a few fantastic ones, but a lot of bad ones too. The first task was to tackle my iPhone albums.

Because I had let it accumulate to over 2000 photos, it became the most exhausting and daunting task–more than I could’ve imagined. I realized I could not complete it in one sitting, so I took breaks and completely removed about 2000 photos on my cell phone in the course of several weeks. Mainly, I backed it up in my Google Photos drive…so many of the bad ones are still there, but out of my phone at least.

Next, I tackled my hard drive and external hard drive. This, admittedly, is still a work in progress as of today, but I feel like I am making progress at least.

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An ode to pictures

I also went through my kids toys, clothing, accessories as well as my own. What resulted, after several weekend afternoons, were several HUGE bags of donation to Goodwill. Again, it was quite exhausting, and I felt a bit ashamed, because it was so much stuff.

What I didn’t expect, however, was the fact that I felt much, much lighter… both physically and mentally, after achieving those two tasks. I was finally letting my nostalgia go, and I realize I can still keep memories in my mind, perhaps write it down somewhere if I want proof later on, but not have it cluttered around my home or electronic devices. I realized that I can actually live with just ten sweaters, five pairs of jeans, seven pairs of socks and ten or less undergarments instead of twenty sweaters, ten pairs of jeans, and mountains of undergarments.

This is what I learned–that I can actually live with less, that I should let go of really old things (just replaced our seven year rug) and introduce new ones if I want to, and I’ll be okay.