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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UFL chapter.

Why do I keep so many random things around my room?

I used to watch the TV show “Hoarders” with my mom when I was little. We would stare in awe at how cluttered and unlivable the houses of the people in the show were. The filled-up rooms and obstructed hallways didn’t make any sense to me, but the reasoning behind them always struck a chord.

My mom and my grandmother have always loved cleaning and they made sure everything in the house was clean and organized, but they made an exception. Every unused piece of furniture, old toy, broken TV that someone was supposed to fix someday, all of it went to the half-constructed room in the back of the house. The room had been in construction for as long as I could remember, and it was never finished, so its doorless entrances and its concrete walls served as what we called “the room of the clutter.”

Despite the existence of this room, I never considered us hoarders. I looked at the show and thought to myself that the hallways were very clear, and the house was tidy, so we didn’t have a problem worthy of an intervention. However, this habit of keeping random things as mementos has stayed with me over the years and can be seen today in my own room and living space.

When I first watched the Marie Kondo show on Netflix, I was so embarrassed of myself. She told us all to go for a minimalist life and get rid of the things that did not bring us joy, but everywhere I looked to clean up and throw things away, I only found valuable things that did bring me joy.

That’s where my issue with saving useless things started –and when I say useless, it’s not an exaggeration. There’s nothing wrong with saving a signed shirt from your graduating class or a memory book a friend gifted you in the seventh grade, but I go a step further. You saved the gift? I’m also saving the wrapper; you kept the movie souvenir? I’m keeping the movie tickets; you saved the flower I gave you at the park? I’m also saving the parking receipt that we paid for your car.

Over the years, I have collected multiple bags filled to the brim with receipts, ping pong balls, Christmas and birthday cards, sticky notes from classes, maps from museums, gift tags, wristbands and many other useless mementos that matter only to me. They stay inside the bags, hidden in a drawer, and every so often I go through them and remember the people that experienced those parts of my life with me. But they add nothing to my life; they are simple nostalgia in a bag taking up space inside of multiple drawers.

So, how do I get rid of these?

My room has always been messy, and my newest excuse is that I’ve always been a “words person.” I spent hours and days of my childhood writing senseless pages in random notebooks; I filled them up with poetry, stories, essays and open letters that I never really wanted to share. The notebooks were never thrown away; they’re still laying around my childhood room, which my grandmother has kept mostly intact.

These notebooks were only the beginning, because then I started collecting books. Everyone went digital, but I insisted that I needed their physical copy and kept them piled up in every corner of my room. The books turned also into art. I started painting and drawing and I wanted to cover up every wall with my art. The art then turned into my fan era, and now I needed posters and cutouts and Build-A-Bears of my favorite artists and bands. 

The point is that I kept getting more and more things to spread around my life and the more I got, the more attached I became to the old ones. When cleaning time came around, there was nothing I wanted to throw away because it all had meaning to me. None of it was useless because I cared about it.

Then, I moved away. My childhood room remains how I left it, but I took as much as I could with me. I had to convince my mom to let me fill up my bags with books, notebooks, drawings, random collectible figures, art supplies and stuffed animals. I almost forgot to leave space for clothes. The moving away felt like a new start; I had brought along some of my mess, but I could start over. Unsurprisingly, my new room did not take long to fill up.

I understood at some point along the way that it didn’t matter where I went, I was going to take the clutter with me. So now I settle for my bags full of random receipts and wristbands. But most recently, I decided to start cleaning up again.

Although I try my best to keep a clean mind and a clean life, it’s very hard for me to let go of things. Those things sometimes are people, and because I can’t keep everyone that I love in my life forever, I turn them into mementos. I collect all the little reminders that we loved each other because I know that someday they won’t be there anymore, and the only part left of them will be a random receipt from a parking spot.

I know this is nostalgic thinking, and I know I’m grieving a loss before it even happens, so the other day, while cleaning up my room, I threw away some things for the first time.

It sucked, I’m not going to lie and say otherwise, but it also felt good to know I was able to let go of something I’ve held so dearly. It means that I’m gradually getting better at not living in the past.

There’s nothing wrong with keeping a couple mementos from people you care about, putting up pictures in the walls and saving the tickets from the first time you went to your favorite show. You just need to acknowledge that at the end of the day, those are just material things taking up a physical space. It doesn’t matter if the people behind them are gone, or if you lose your bag full of keepsakes, because the memories of those moments will always stay with you. Those will always have a space in your heart, no hoarding required.

Valentina is a second-year journalism major at the University of Florida. She is passionate about freedom of expression, gender equality, and the plot of most Barbie movies. Whenever she is not writing or studying, she likes painting landscapes, reading about celebrity and sports drama, and making oddly specific Spotify playlists.