On Minimalism, Sentimentality, and Getting Organized

On Minimalism, Sentimentality, and Getting Organized

Source: theminimalistvegan.com

I, like many people since Covid began, have been in a continuous process of cutting down on the amount of stuff that clutters the crevices of my space. I have found it easier to stay tidy, to move, to think, and to breathe when I own fewer things. Don’t get me wrong – I am not a minimalist by any means. My closet full of vintage clothes and collections of letters certainly bar me from taking that title. But cutting down on things I don’t have any use for has been freeing. Continuing my process of organization was my biggest resolution for 2021, and my first big project to tackle was my unsightly collection of sentimental items. They had occupied junk drawers, been moved into shoeboxes, and even spent a brief time naked and alone on a bookcase shelf. They needed a permanent home. 

I have always found myself in quite a bind when it comes to mementos. Cutting back on kitchenware and beauty products was always a breeze, but how could I possibly bear to part with a handwritten letter from a friend that I rarely saw anymore? Or throw away a photo booth strip from my first date with my boyfriend? Or toss out a wristband from a memorable music festival I went to in my junior year of high school? 

Source: familytreemagazine.com
I knew my future self would thank me for holding on to these items – little mementos from days and moments that made me smile. I could see myself thumbing over the letters with my grandchildren. I held on to these sentimental items with a clear purpose in mind, but in the meantime they had shown themselves to be a bit of a hassle. They didn't have a practical place. What should have been a fun bundle of things to look through had become the biggest eyesore in my room.

So I began my mission to organize them. Though it admittedly took more time than expected, (How could I not read through all the letters again?), I grouped together the photos, letters, and small items and placed them in Savor’s Vault, the All-In-One Desk Organizer. Not only did it look fantastic, the included labels made it easy to organize by giving each group of items its own little home. And the dividable drawers kept my old corsages and concert tickets separated and easier to find.  I even organized the letters by date, which gives my trips down memory lane a bit of direction.  

Source: @this_little_nook

An additional, unexpected benefit was the limited size of the Vault. It gave me the ability to let certain items go. While it had room for almost all of my sentimental items, it forced me to reevaluate the importance of each item. I have found that photos and letters mean the most to me, so almost all of those stayed. Yet with limited space and direction from the pre-made labels, I finally found peace in parting with my movie theatre tickets from 2009. Letting go of less important items simply made more space for treasured mementos, and made finding important items easier.  I like the idea of having a wall of Vaults on my bookshelf – each for a certain phase and time in my journey. 

Yet for now, with everything in its place, my little box of sentimentality has become one of my most treasured possessions. In this weird and lonely time of COVID, it gives me comfort to revisit these important moments and memories. The tangled mess now has a place and a purpose.  

When properly stored, sentimental items are not just worthy of being saved – they are some of our most important possessions. They are, in the words of John Mulaney, “the only thing we can’t replace.”