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I am an emotional hoarder. There, I said it. I revel in keeping movie tickets from first dates stashed somewhere in a desk drawer, and I still have photographs of old friends that I should discard and children’s books that should probably be donated. Sometimes I forget these tokens of the past are still in my possession. But when the urge to deep clean my room kicks in at an ungodly hour of the night, I can’t seem to part with them.

My emotional hoarding is probably a direct symptom of my highly sentimental nature. Everything about my personality points towards sentimentality—I’m a Cancer sun, an INFP personality type, and—deep breath—a writer. This combination, I’ve concurred, makes it difficult for me to part with things. Whether that’s a childhood memento, a memory, people, or places, dealing and navigating change is a curious concept when your entire personality is driven by nostalgia and emotionalism.

I don’t think the pandemic has helped my case much, either. After spending over a year reminiscing about days when I wasn’t stuck in a cycle of waking up, attending Zoom lectures, and waiting to do it all over again the next day, my sentimental nature has only become all the more amplified. I cherish objects and places that I once interacted with differently. And now, with things picking up speed and life doing what it does best—moving on—I’m left coping with change, whether that be temporarily moving out of my apartment for mold-related reasons or thinking about graduation and moving on and out of my childhood home for whatever comes next.

There is nothing wrong with living life in sentimentality. But the fact is, just because I want it to does not mean life will slow down for me. It’s time for me to cope. And if you find yourself needing to do the same, whether that’s having to downsize and part from personal mementos, or departing from a place or relationship, I’ve compiled a few ways to survive this predestined, inconvenient and bizarre thing we collectively call change.

Write it down.

This one seems painstakingly obvious, but you would be surprised to find how healing it can be to write down feelings or memories. I like to write my recollections down as stories—that is, as detailed and descriptive as possible so that I can look back and reread them as if I am experiencing them again for the first time. We go through life developing core memories, and whether you look back on them feeling bittersweet or indifferent, it’s nice to know that an instance in your life elicited a need for remembrance.

Remember that just because you are parting from something, doesn’t mean that distance will reduce its sentimentality.

Whether it’s the physical or emotional distance you are creating between yourself and a thing or memory, know that it will always hold a special place in your life. Everything we experience and endure fabricates our very being, so whether you actively know it or not, people, memories, things, and places are perpetually and innately a part of you. Memories can fade, but they certainly don’t expire. And there is great sentiment in that fact alone.

Memories can fade, but they certainly don’t expire. And there is great sentiment in that fact alone.

Ask yourself what you’re really afraid of.

Is it really the fact that you are departing from someone or something? Or rather, is it a fear of the unknown? Possibly both? No matter the answer, it can be helpful to figure out the root of what is causing you to feel fearful about navigating change in the first place. 

Embrace your emotional intelligence.

Understand that whatever is changing, you are taking with you a unique perspective or experience. Let that be what helps you relate to new people and create ties with new places. Let that be what tethers you to some form of normalcy.

Change is sometimes, maybe, possibly, arguably… good.

Not only that, but change is often a privilege that can be embraced and used to good advantage. Sometimes change is exactly what we need.

Ella Chakarian

UC Berkeley '23

Ella is a third year studying English and Creative Writing at UC Berkeley. She's passionate about all forms of storytelling, like personal essays and poetry. When she's not writing, editing, or reading she likes to watch documentaries, explore the city, and drink astonishing amounts of iced coffee.
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