Change: The One Thing You Can’t Grow Without

By Rebecca Grandahl

When was the last time you cleaned your room? I know this sounds like your mom is talking to you, but seriously think for a second— when did you last really clean it, going through every nook and dusty cranny? Odds are, it wasn’t recently enough.

I’ve lived in the same house with my parents for the last 20 years now, but it was only in the last couple of months that the room I had always slept in began to feel excessively heavy with bad memories. I found myself either crashing at my boyfriend’s house every other night or sleeping uncomfortably on the couch at home just trying to avoid the room that was now haunting me. I kept running from the problem, until one day I woke up after another horrible sleep on the couch and decided to throw it all away.

Your room, your office, your house, or wherever else you spend the majority of your time inevitably becomes a physical container for most of your memories. That bed you’re going to sleep in tonight is the same bed you cried yourself to sleep in after you had that horrible breakup at 16. Your desk is the same desk you were sitting at when you found out your loved one died. Whatever happened, wherever it happened, chances are you’ve been holding on to that physical reminder of that memory. Can you challenge yourself to get rid of it?

I knew I couldn’t erase my past, but I also knew I could at least give myself a fresh start for the future. My parents were going to be moving in a year or less, so they let me redo my room as long as it would still be sellable. This meant I finally had the freedom to morph my room into an accurate representation of the new person I was now, but it also meant I had to face the monumental task of combing through all those shitty memories. I had cleaned my room before, but by that I mean I had dusted some shelves before proceeding to shove all the clutter I couldn’t be bothered to go through back in my closet.

As my mother helped me go through the abandoned crevices of my room, I was shaken by the surprises that awaited me. Jewelry from ex-boyfriends I had hidden away during my moment of turmoil after the breakup, photos of old friends who ended up backstabbing me a few months after the pictures were taken, even my sixth-grade yearbook emerged from the depths of my room. But the worst, by far — and one of the main motivations for me to write this article — was what I found in the far reaches of my closet’s upper shelf.

Six feet above the floorboards, buried behind forgotten childhood blankets and books, waiting for its day to see sunlight again was a diaper. My diaper. My used, Minnie Mouse diaper.

I screamed. “MOM! MOM, OHMYGOD WHAT THE HELL!” I daintily grasped this relic of the past with my fingertips and then threw it on the ground out of disgust.

Yeah, so that happened. Anyways, the point is that going through old crap in your room you’ve been avoiding for so long is almost always worth it in the end. I didn’t want to give any more thought to Ryan from sophomore year, but truth be told, we could all use a little closure at the right time. If you’re still recovering from a fresh wound, let the experience scar over. There’s nothing wrong with taking your time either.

My mom asked me if I wanted to keep the jewelry or the photos, and after finding the diaper I finally told her to just throw everything away. I didn’t want to look back. Ultimately, I probably kept one or two things to hand down to my children one day, but that’s about it. I was able to walk back into that room feeling lighter than I’d ever felt before.


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