I mentioned that doing the room re-vamp is a good excuse to sort through some old papers. The truth is, the little 2 drawer filing cabinet I picked up in college contained these college papers so well, they were together and out of the way. With all the things in life that needed to be done, I had no pressing need to pull out those papers and go through them. That is, until we decided to empty the room and remove the little filing cabinet! Fortunately, by then I had already decided that I needed to go through them and purge them.
But first, before I go on, I have a confession to make. I hate labeling behavior. Doesn’t make a difference if it’s mine or someone else’s. I just do not see much value in applying labels and see that they can too often apply to a wider audience. The problem lies in the negative connotations that we associate with the labels and being reluctant to think of ourselves with these labels. I am thinking of “hoarding” and in writing this I decided to look up the definition. According to Merriam Webster, hoarding is “the act of collecting and hiding or storing (esp. valuable items) for preservation, security, or future use; treasure up (esp. money); store in the mind etc.”
I was working with a woman who had labeled herself in this way. I was talking to her and mentioned that I struggle with “hoarding” too. As an organizer, she dismissed my claim, unable to believe that I hold onto things more than I probably should. Yet, the truth is that there are things that I am reluctant to get rid of. I believe that we each have things that we hold on to, things that someone else might not see the value of, and organizing is about finding places for the things that matter to the individual. The important piece about holding onto things, is making a place to keep those things we value, and as long as they have a logical place and do not hinder life, it does not matter how or what we collect.
At this point, I am almost embarrassed by the fact that I have kept all my college and, even worse, many of my high school class notes and handouts, and a few from middle school. I have lugged them through many moves and cannot say that I have used or read them since I acquired them. Many years ago, I did gather each class together, in either a three-ring binder or a folder, and labeled each of them. They lived easily together. As I was moving them out of the room, I made sure to keep them all together.
Despite my not looking at them for so long, I think it is important not to just toss them. I have been going through them, looking at the name of the class, which helps me know if there are likely things I might want to save, and directing me on how much time I might spend on going through the papers.
One of the first things I discovered, which validates the importance of going through things before tossing, was some drawings my best friend made on some poems I had written for a class. I have found other things that I still value and want to keep.
As I continue the process of reviewing these, it has become obvious that I will need a way to organize and store the papers I still want to save. I am pleased because I also can see how much I have decided to get rid of and that far outweighs what I am keeping. The things I still feel are important also show me what I am still interested in and value having information on.
Some of the notes and papers I have saved are the reproductions that classes have included as part of the required reading. I find this is one of the hardest areas to sort. I am an avid reader, and books are one of the things that I am loathe to part with, so I will take more time going through these photocopied essays and poems. They were useful for the class itself since they were organized by the order they needed to be read. One of the major reasons that they are not fully functional as they are currently is that I do not really know what I have amongst them.
Maybe I am unique for holding onto school notes and papers for so long, even finding some that date back to middle school, yet it was obviously something that I valued. Does it make me a hoarder? Does it matter? The crucial point is how we do not let our collections interfere with living life and to organize them so that when we want to appreciate those things, we are able to do so.