I moved back in with my parents after graduating. Sometimes, this feels like a gigantic step back in my steady movement forward towards my ideal life. But when I start feeling like that, I keep those thoughts in check by reminding myself that I don't have a job yet and that this is the best first step in creating my new life.
However, I do still have to live at home for a couple months, and I came back from school attempting to fit four years of living in an apartment back into my 10 x 10 childhood bedroom.
It didn't work.
Now, I spent a couple of days organizing and I have a much better handle on my space.
The first project that I tackled was my bookshelf. I still had boxes of books that were from freshman year of college or earlier that I didn't want, and if I didn't get rid of some of them, I was going to drown in the printed word. Imagine, if you will, books stacked on every available surface in my room (desk, bureau, the floor), as well as occupying two huge bins that took up essentially 2/3s of my open floor space. Considering that I wanted to live in this space, not just occupy it for the next couple months, it was imperative that I organized my books.
This is where minimalism comes in. I've been intrigued by the idea of minimalism for some time now, starting around the summer after my first year of college. I wrote about taking the first steps of my journey over on The Tempest last year, but this process felt different than the first time. Unlike when I was nineteen, going through a lifetime's worth of clothes and clutter, right now I am dealing with pretty much just four years. It feels simultaneously less and more difficult. There is more weight to some of these items because the memories attached to the pieces happened more recently. I am trying, valiantly, not to let the sentimentality overtake my good sense when it comes to getting rid of items.
I used to have a policy about sentimentality when I was first getting into minimalism. I trashed a lot of items because I, at the time, thought that I didn't need anything to help me remember. I would take pictures of things because a digital picture takes up far less space than a physical item. But I feel like I've gotten a bit softer after my first initial dive into minimalism, more willing to recognize the parts of myself that are deeply sentimental and nostalgic.
This is where we return to my bookshelf.
During my first declutter, I got rid of a lot of books. Just boatloads. I pulled everything off my bookshelves and just decimated how many books I owned. I was deep in the how-few-items-can-I-possibly-own phase of minimalism, and I wanted to get rid of everything.
This time it's been a bit different. I have shelves filled with books, and I don't feel guilty at all for keeping them. The books that I kept are ones that I will read again, have yet to read and want to enjoy, and ones that are of use to me still, education-wise. So, where three years ago I would have tossed everything into a pile to send off to a used bookstore, this time I actually took the time to process what each book meant to me and whether or not I wanted to keep it in my library for the time being. There is also nothing stopping me from donating these books if I want to in the future. I am not so attached to anything that I don't think I could live without it, but I also know that I don't have to live without it in the here and now, either, for the sake of "owning less."
I got rid of a lot of books this time around. It was close to 60. I ended up going to the local used bookstore, where I donated a bunch. But, I also sold a few and made a couple bucks in the process.
When I look at my bookshelves now, I don't feel stressed. The boxes of books are gone. The books that remain are organized in a way that makes sense to me (by topic and size, not alphabetically). And most importantly, I look at my books and feel happy.
I'm never going to be the kind of minimalist who has no books. That isn't my style. But organizing my shelves, paring down my collection to something manageable and where every book has meaning to me - this was the best first step I could take towards making my space at home truly my space again.