I spent a day last week working my way through closets and drawers and even the dreaded basement, which is currently serving as locked storage for our vital Airstream walls, windows, and framings that we wouldn't dare leave in the garage, where they could be easily stolen and scrapped. As I sorted through my clothes, I was able to quickly fill a reusable shopping bag with items that were torn or I'd forgotten existed. The week prior, I'd filled half a bag and sent a billowy vest to my sister, who's pregnant. I thought she could use it as her belly grows. I told her I didn't need it back. Yet after counting my clothing and shoes yesterday, I'm not convinced that I've pared down in a way I can be proud of. The same dialogue is still running through my head, even two and a half years post our decision to truly simplify.
Perhaps I'll need that this winter, maybe I'll wear it once I lose another few pounds. It's a cute sweater, really cute...but it doesn't really suit my body type. If I get rid of it, I won't have a camel sweater anymore, so no variation amongst my sweaters. What if I get an office job and need those slacks? I've never worn them, but they do look really good on me. I should hold onto them. I should keep the belt that goes with them, although I am not a fan of the logo on the buckle. I hate belts. I should get rid of it. I barely wear this dress, but it was a birthday gift and one I asked for. Maybe my taste has just changed. I'll hang it back up anyway, I feel guilty. These loafers are my favorites and the others hurt my feet, but the other ones are black and not camel and they're vintage - I'll never find another pair like these! They were only eight dollars. If I toss them into the donation bag, I'll be accepting that they were a waste of money. Worse, I'm accepting that I don't really know my own style. That probably means I don't know myself as well as I thought I did. Great. I'm nearly thirty-one years old and just as indecisive and terrible with money as ever.
Paring down, simplifying, purging, streamlining, whatever word you choose to describe the act of letting go, is more than just making piles. We question ourselves, our spending habits, our tastes, our emotional well-being, our ability to purchase responsibly. We're taking much more into account as we begin sorting through things we've spent our hard-earned money on. It's no wonder so many of us struggle with the act of simplifying. It's not just the enormity of the task, but the accompanying emotions we're sorting through as we make those piles of things.