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Not So Dear Diary

Speaking of holding onto the past...

I am the first to admit that I have always been the sentimental 'hoarding' type.  

Each time I have moved home, from the age of 17 when I ventured out into the real world, I have lugged around with me boxes of:

  • Birthday cards
  • Christmas cards
  • Printed 4 x 6 photographs
  • high school diaries
  • Pen Pal letters
  • High School yearbooks
  • Teenage poetry
  • Class photos from Kindy through until Year 12; and 
  • REALLY REALLY REALLY PERSONAL diaries from puberty.

The concept of doing this was actually insane.  

I had to ask if there was any reason to revisit items and words that resemble a person I no longer am.  If all that matters is the present moment, then why did I find it so hard to destroy or remove these keepsakes of my awkward years?  I mean, one only needs to take a peek at the career ambitions of twelve year old, Laura Moss, to see the worth of hoarding such things! 

Ambitions at age 12.  Watch me take over the world people.

But seriously, it has only taken me until now, (age 33) to realise not only do I never look at any of these things; I would be mortified if anyone else did!

Rather than share with you the humiliating details of what I found among the piles and piles of handwritten teenage thoughts, I think it would be more helpful, if from one hoarder (sentimentalist if you may,) to another; I impart to you, tips for shedding the layers of memorabilia that are holding you back from being present and open.  

1. Define Your Present Self

Are you that person?

One idea that spurred me through the shredding of cringe-worthy diaries was the idea that one day when I am no longer around, people (possibly my daughter) may go through my belongings.  If reading an old diary about wanting to kiss a random boy and what I spent my Centrelink payment on as a teenager, is not completely engrossing reading to me, then I'm pretty confident that it is of no worth to anyone else.

We all grow into different versions of ourselves as we have new experiences and learn more about what we agree with and how we choose to behave.  Personalities change.

Reading this material was like reading something written by a stranger.  I'm also well aware that the late 90's were not a time where we had the luxury of perfectly curated social media accounts.  Teenage years were actually AWKWARD for most. (read: No GHDs.  No Pro-active or Roacutane for acne.  It was all about the Sun-In and over-plucked eyebrows FTW.  Guess what? I am no longer that person.  There is nothing to be gained by looking back. #delete

2. The Item is Not The Memory

Positive memories won't be lost in the absence of a material object.  

It is most important to understand that the item is not the memory.  You don't need a cupboard or a drawer in your home full of items to symbolise your memories of your life.  If you've found yourself with printed photographs from prior to the days of digital photography, scan them all onto a hard drive and eventually hit delete on the blurry and the irrelevant.  If you love keeping diaries, lists and physical mementos, be selective and ask yourself their true worth in your life as you move forward and grow.

A harder task is to discard material items passed on to you by a loved one.  Ask yourself if they would want you to keep their belongings unused in your home or rather, pass them on to someone who would use them. This can similarly apply to old birthday and Christmas cards given by those who have passed on.  Although it can sometimes be guilt that stops us from throwing out these unusable items, we must remember that the sentiment and love they passed to you at the time will remain without physical proof. 

3. Positive Vibes Only

If you want to be lighter. You have to let go.

By ridding your life of items and things that you once thought you needed, you are freeing up your life for growth.  It is not about the physical space that they take up being regained.  It is about the now.  By keeping items that you have convinced yourself you will need one day you are not being present.  

On reflection, it has only been two weeks since I disposed of my memorabilia and sentimental hoardings.  I feel nothing but lighter.  It is not always as simple as doing this in one attempt, but I definitely feel the many benefits in freeing up my home and your head of physical items to symbolize the past. (and destroying embarrassing evidence of a teenage girl.)