Young & Broke: How Student Loans Funded (& Crushed) Our Dreams

Issues

For me, going to college was always a part of The Plan.

As a first generation college student, my parents wanted for me what they didn’t have (as do most parents): a life and financial status that was proactive, not reactive.

A salary fat enough to the point where I didn’t have to worry if something went wrong with my car and Christmas would never be a burden. Peace of mind and financial freedom.

But so far, my (nearly) two college degrees have absolutely not ensured any financial freedom for me, at least not any I’ve yet seen or could expect to see even in the next few years.

Basically, the financial burden of college has only ensured:

  • Negative net-worth
  • Unfavorable debt-to-income ratio
  • Deferment of my dreams
  • and so on…

I still believe that education is an excellent investment, but I also believe that many societal factors have pressured people like you and me to borrow much more than we actually needed in order to score a good job in the area of our choice.

Here are some reasons you shouldn’t blame yourself exclusively:

1. Schools encourage bad borrowing habits

Sitting at my first university orientation, I remember the admins talking to a group of us about work study and part-time jobs during school. The presenter told us that we shouldn’t work for more than 10 hours a week as full-time students because we needed to focus on our schoolwork.

While studying, preparing, and staying organized are extremely important to doing well in post-secondary school, warning students not to work more than 10 hours a week makes them fearful that they will hurt their academic performance for doing so. This also makes students feel like they shouldn’t be working at all, which takes funding your education yourself completely off the table.

I’m a frequently listener of Dave Ramsey, who also highly values education but not when it comes with a ridiculous pricetag. Dave encourages college-aged callers to his talkshow to pay off their tuition and bills in cash prior to or during their enrollment.

The idea that students should not be working at all while in school needs to be trashed. I wish that I would have known that I was stealing from my future by borrowing money to go out with friends or eat on campus. I wish I was made to see how all of this would build up into thousands of dollars needlessly spent, instead of a flying through a few “sign here” boxes on some online documents making me promise to pay it all back when I graduated.

2. Pricey, prestigious schools make false promises

Touting an elite college sweatshirt creates the illusion that you’re better, stronger, and faster than anyone else.

But studies show that it might not give much more than bragging rights and the same stamp on a piece of a paper, but with an outrageous pricetag.

When I was looking at colleges as a 17 year old, I scoffed at community colleges. I was arrogant and completely ignorant to the types of programs offered for a fraction of the price of private schools. It mattered most to me what kind of person people would think I was for attending a private university, which was another illusion that I’m still paying the price for.

Openness to more affordable schools isn’t a big marketing item towards high school students. It’s all about the campus life, dining options, entertainment, sports, and other things that would still probably be just as fun at a more affordable school. And in the end, were these things really worth paying off for the next 10 years?

3. You’re doing the best you can with the knowledge you have

Whether it was 3, 4, 5, or 10 years ago, we all made the financial decisions that we made while we were in college. There isn’t anything we can do to take them back.

But we do have a responsibility to do something now and not repeat the same process under different circumstances.

In the last year, it’s become my husband’s and my #1 priory to make a savings plan for the things we want, not look into our financing options. In many cases, if you need a loan for it, you can’t afford it.


What do you think about the student debt crisis? Have your student loans delayed your personal goals (buying a house, going on vacation, etc.)? Leave me your thoughts in the comments!

Quick Trip to Central PA: Eats, Sleeps, Things to See, & More

Travel

If you know anything about my husband Vance and me, Central Pennsylvania is home to some of the most fun and formative memories of our (young) adulthood and remains one of our absolute favorite places to visit.

Vance is a Penn State alum and I spent many college weekends with him about 2 hours away. The last two years of college, I had Fridays off of class and couldn’t wait until I was finished with work or class on Thursday so I could head up for the weekend. I’ll never forget those fall drives, singing songs in the car, and picking Vance up from campus as soon as I got in town.

Aside from a one-day trip for my brother-in-law’s graduation, we hadn’t visited State College, PA yet this year and were due for an actual trip to our favorite spots. I figured that since I’ve visited quite a few times over the last few years, I would put together a quick and dirty guide to some of our favorite places.

What to see
Local farms

State College, PA has no shortage of adorable family owned farms great for picking up a homemade apple cider in the fall or fresh, seasonal vegetables in the summer. For years, we visited Harner Farm, a super cute farm stand just a few minutes from the apartment.

This year, we went to one of Way Fruit Farm‘s fall fest weekends. The farm is located in Port Matilda, PA, which is around 15 minutes out of Downtown State College. On the way there, we passed beautiful farmhouses, landscape, and tons of cows.

Way Fruit Farm and others usually host fall apple-picking events in their orchards, pumpkin festivals, and apple blossom festivals in the spring. There’s an abundance of locally grown produce, sweets, and other treats at these events, which are awesome to bring back home with you.

DOWNTOWN & Campus

Downtown State College is one of my favorite “downtowns” ever. College Avenue, just across the street from Penn State’s campus, is filled with shops, restaurants, and coffee shops for literally anyone’s personal taste.

If you’re looking to shop, I love looking in The Nittany Quill, a stationary store with the cutest cards and gifts. Barefoot, People’s Nation, Metro, and the two-story Urban Outfitters are great options for women’s clothing. We’ve also looked in Appalachian Outdoors at their winter coats and Patagonia. If you’re looking for PSU apparel, I would skip the campus bookstore altogether and head downtown to Family Clothesline, Lion’s Pride, or McLanahan’s for a bigger variety and better deals.

the arboretum

The Arboretum at Penn State is a hidden gem. We’ve visited the Arboretum in every season and the display is so beautiful every time. It truly doesn’t matter what time of year you visit.

Where to eat
downtown

Downtown is filled with restaurant options for every type of palette, but the Corner Room/Allen Street Grill is just a must-visit. It’s a beautiful venue with a perfect view of campus at the Allen Street Gates. The menu is diverse, from burgers and chicken to jambalaya.

Everywhere else
Greek pizza, Home D

Home D Pizzeria is a great casual spot with a large beer selection and the option to order fully customizable giant slices of pizza. These were great on a college budget, but they’re also fun to pair with appetizers and drinks when you want more than one slice but less than a whole pizza. It’s also a great place to watch football games.

Local Whiskey has the best platters of fries, which pair great with their drink selection.

Happy Valley Brewing Company is another great spot, featuring tons of craft beers. Pair them with a charcuterie board for a perfect day date.

And, of course, you can’t visit State College without going to the famous Berkey Creamery. The Creamery churns and mixes all of its ice cream with the help of campus cows. You can’t get fresher than that.

WHERE TO STAY

Even though we spent most of our nights in an apartment, we did visit State College a few times and needed a place to stay. Two of my top recommendations are Toftrees Golf Resort and The Nittany Lion Inn.

TOFTREES GOLF RESORT

Our most recent trip to State College at the end of October was our first stay at Toftrees. We had an amazing time and got a room for 2 nights at a fantastic rate. The resort is located about 10 minutes from campus and has such beautiful nature views.

We were really impressed by the cleanliness and lodge-feel of the lobby and rooms. The Field Burger & Tap is built into the resort and room service can be ordered from there at any time. When we went to order breakfast to our room on Saturday, we found out that we had missed the breakfast window and the cook was preparing for lunch, but the attendant went out of her way to place our order anyway after hours, which was so sweet of them.

The nittany lion inn

If you know me, you know how much I rave about The Nittany Lion Inn. If you could visit a modern day version of the hotel from White Christmas, this would be it. This hotel is grand, sophisticated, and comfortable. If you get the chance to stay there even for a night, it’s so worth it. Fun fact: Vance and I almost had our wedding here.

Visit central pa

Football fan or not, Central PA provides some of the most beautiful views of nature that I’ve seen in Pennsylvania. Its mix of farm to table, home grown values and modern elements protect it from becoming outdated or out of touch with its roots.

For us, State College was a fun place to run around, but since we’ve graduated it has become a quiet retreat for us too. Taking in some of the beautiful campus architecture or having brunch in a downtown restaurant with tons of windows to watch the light rain fall are some of our favorite things to do.

Have you visited State College or another city in Central PA? What’s your favorite part?

Why Adulting Makes Us So Miserable

Issues

I recently read an article from New York Magazine’s section The Cut titled “I Moved to L.A. and I Hate It!”. What I didn’t realize, though, was this article has a lot less to do with living in L.A. and a lot more to do with who we become once we enter our 20’s.

I had a rough transition into adulthood. Everything changed all at once, like I was dumped into a brand new routine without an instruction manual and expected to be an expert. I’m sure most college grads can relate.

From one strange world to another

College is a kind of artificial world, like a simulation. You think that you’re being an adult, but you’re really not. You’re charging 10 bags of chips to your meal plan, using loan refund money to buy concert tickets, and wearing sweatpants to class — things that don’t really fly in the real world.

In The Cut article, an anonymous woman asks a columnist why she can’t seem to be the happy, carefree person she used to be 10 years ago in her 20’s. She said that she used to be fearless, unbothered, and really in touch with her inner voice that always knew what she wanted.

The columnist’s response was everything.

She told the writer that the person she was in those glory days was part of a façade or an act that she didn’t even realize she was putting on. Depending on her circumstances or the people around her, she was influenced and “played up” certain aspects of her personality.

For example, when we’re around our best friends having a great time, it’s much easier to feel carefree, confident, and on top of the world. So, it makes sense that we feel lonely and sad when we’re at home in bed scrolling through social media all night.

“I wanted a lot more. I wanted everything. No one seemed to like me anymore. I wanted to be my brilliant, confident, funny self again. In order to feel good, though, I had to feel my feelings (instead of thinking myself in circles). I had to locate the sad, lost little kid I’d been hiding for decades…”

Heather Havrilesky @ The Cut

The veil lifts

Even though a façade makes us feel confident or untouchable, it isn’t authentic and it won’t last. Reading this surprised me, mostly because I felt most “myself” in college. I felt inspired, smart, engaged, and busy.

After graduating and starting a full-time job that didn’t fulfill me, things were much different. Some college friendships fell apart, which might have happened because they weren’t meant to survive the real world.

Feeling this change in mood, thought pattern, life goals, etc. isn’t you losing yourself. It’s probably fatigue from either comparing yourself to a past you who you think had it all, or continuing to put up a façade that isn’t you in order to fit in.

The columnist writes that the only way to break through the façade is to do the “hard part”- that is, let your vulnerability and authenticity show through. Pretending slowly suffocates, but making a conscious effort to be your true self is a breath of fresh air to your soul.

Where we go from here

Being completely honest with yourself is difficult. It’s hard to own up to your sadness. As the columnist writes, it’s easier to wish that you had the friendships you did 5 years ago than to own up to the fact that you’re still really sad that those meaningful friendships ended.

Honesty and self-love are crucial. Acknowledging and breaking down insecurities, doubts, and negative thoughts is difficult and healing isn’t a linear process. It isn’t as easy as saying, tomorrow I will wake up and be my true self for the rest of my life. It takes practice and it takes mindfulness.

Start by incorporating more things that you truly want to do into your life. Make less time for activities that don’t really reflect what you’re passionate about. Stop keeping up appearances.

Can you relate to the existential dread that is “adulting”? What changes have you had to incorporate after college to adjust to adult life?


Be a Rebel, Be an Optimist – Marisa

The Voices Series

You’re invited to become a part of The Voices Series!

Click here to get started!

 

Meet Marisa

 

“Self worth is your most precious possession – protect it and fight for it.”

 

Where does your self-worth come from?

 

      “A lot of factors play into contributing to self-worth, but ultimately it comes from the self. You have the fundamental power and right to declare yourself, and celebrate and empower all it can be.

Self-worth does come with trials of joy and pain but ultimately lead you to a place that makes sense – even if only to you. It is your most precious possession – protect it and fight for it.”

 

What is the difference between living and existing?

 

“Living is contributing. Existing is watching. We all begin by existing, when we choose to live – that’s when the whole adventure begins. At least that was what it was like for me.”

 

Is humanity headed in the right or wrong direction?

 

“Ultimately, I believe humanity is heading in the right direction. We are advancing and discovering greater ways to enhance the quality of life.

I believe we have never felt more connected, regardless of the societal walls that attempt to divide us.”

 

“We act out of urgency not necessarily with care. Societal leaders especially have a role in this factor…”

 

What causes the most harm in the world, but is completely avoidable?

 

“Lack of empathy.

There is definitely a larger call to help one another, however those in harm are not always receiving what they need. We don’t nearly listen to one another in ways that we should. We act out of urgency not necessarily with care. Societal leaders especially have a role in this factor.”

 

“What’s my message for the world?

First of all – let’s catch coffee sometime, I’d love to meet you.

Secondly, love. Love is the force and the peace you crave. Let’s put it to practice.”

 

How do you want to be remembered?

“I’d like to be remembered as authentic.

Regardless of our relationship, or our experiences together – good or bad. I’d hope to ultimately be understood as someone as real as they claimed, and as authentic as you heard. I try to be advocate of this persona – through word and example. I speak my mind and wear my heart on my sleeve. I’ve come to learn through too many unfortunate incidents that many things will deceive and alter your reality – I don’t want it coming from me or anything I have control of.

I love life too much to it allow it to harm, at least under my watch.”

“I used to believe in forever, but forever is too good to be true.”

– Winnie the Pooh

 

About Marisa

I’m a dreamer, I’m a storyteller, I’m a friend, I’m a sister, I’m a daughter, I’m a little bit weird. I crave challenge and encourage criticism. I want to be my best self, but unsure what that is and when I’ll know what. I try to play my part in ensuring everything and everyone I encounter receives the love and respect they deserve.

Ultimately, I consider myself extraordinary ordinary. Trying to take the best of what’s given to me and turn it into something beautiful.

 

About The Voices Series

The Voices Series

If we aren’t growing, we aren’t living.

The mission of The Voices Series is to help each of us recognize that our thoughts, ideas, and passions offer something to this world that no one else can offer. Each of our perspectives on the world around us is valid and needed.

There is so much to be gained outside of your comfort zone.

If you’re reading this, you’re invited to become a part of The Voices Series!

Email me at carissarkb@gmail.com to get involved.

The world in 3 words

Issues

Bent, not broken: my three words chosen to describe our world.

In Fall 2016, I took a Political Science course in International Relations, which was an elective outside of my major. The core of the curriculum was based on learning IR perspectives: realism, liberalism, and constructivism. Aside from the power-driven motivations of realism and the overly-cooperative nature of liberalism, constructivism offered a completely different take on how we look at the world.

Constructivism taught me that we have created the world around us. As citizens, we’ve created the rules. Basically, my professor explained that we give symbols meaning –  in traffic signals, we’ve assigned colors to represent stop and go (and they didn’t need to be red or green). We’ve made the norms. It’s because of constructivism that I wholeheartedly believe that we are solely responsible for changing our world if it disappoints us.
Bent, not broken is my philosophy. We will never be beyond repair. We can pick up and start again, we can reinvent the cycle.

-CK

Me before you

Issues

I really messed up.

The most frustrating aspect in all of this is that weeks before 2020 had started, I was the biggest advocate of setting intentions and reminding myself of the habits I’d be letting go of in the new year. I even made a vision board of inspiration for myself and taped it to my wall.

Of course, I’ll be going into depth about exactly how I sabotaged my prior vision for 2020 and how it happened so sneakily that I actually thought I was choosing the right path. I was mislead, and as I’m writing this nearly 3 1/2 months later, I see that my decisions were heavily rooted in the best interest and approval of everyone else but me.

Even that feels too cliché to type. I always put everyone before myself. But I don’t think that all of us are chronic martyrs. I can’t remember the last time I did something for myself, and even then, I probably still felt guilty about it. It’s all such a horrible feeling – constantly reexamining everything that you want because you can always give it up for the greater good. Most of the time, that seems like the most worthy cause, but it always ends in waiting, feeling stuck, and being really unhappy. To be honest, that is the part that makes me the most angry.

We ended 2019 by really, really wanting a puppy. My husband and I are major dog lovers and spent most of 2019 dreaming about our future doggo. The dog fever was extreme, and probably even more so after we got married. We knew that with living in an apartment and also being separated by 6 hours, having one was going to be nearly impossible. But by the end of 2019, after another year of trying to jointly relocate back home and failing, we were ready to move on, accept our current circumstances, and take the leap of finding our first dog.

We came across the sweetest, most beautiful puppy we later named Yeti. We are certainly biased, but Yeti is the smartest, most loyal and loving puppy we’ve ever known. Now at 4 months, I can’t imagine him not being in our lives, but his first few months were pretty hard… for me. I spent a few months 6 hours away house training, meal time training, and behavior training him which took up most of my day. I did not take the job lightly. To be honest, I became a little obsessed with make him the perfect dog. I felt that every single moment was a teachable opportunity, which meant that I just couldn’t let him make a mistake. I’ve never really heard of anyone’s mental health tanking after caring for a puppy, but somehow, mine did. I stopped caring for myself so much, skipping meals, and just generally feeling mentally exhausted.

On top of all of that, I became panicked that I solidified myself 6 hours away for the forseeable future. Of couse I loved spending time with my husband and our puppy, but anyone who knows me knows that I’ve started our journey back home because I don’t want to be away from my family and friends. It’s very hard on me to spend to an extended amount of time away, and knowing that Yeti needed routine and couldn’t be left alone during the day, I wasn’t sure when I’d be able to go back home, which was super anxiety-inducing for me. I wasn’t myself for most of January and February.

At the same time, I had received a job interview request from a company I had dreamed about working for. While in Michigan, I completed a video interview and received a request to go onsite. I was super excited and scheduled some time to come back home for a few days, Yeti in tow.

My interview experience was incredible. The team was awesome and I was growing more and more excited about the opportunity. My time onsite, way up high in a skyscraper downtown, made me feel like I was getting back to myself after years of school, unemployment, and one existential crisis after another. I had barely made it home when I was contacted to come back onsite to meet the rest of the team. I was ecstatic.

I think that before reading this next part, it is important to understand the job struggle that has plagued our relationship for a while. I was voluntarily unemployed during my Master’s program in order to make the distance between home and my husband more manageable. In late 2018, we decided as a couple that my husband would start looking for employment back home. After a year of countless interviews, nothing. We ended 2019 no closer to the goal.

I have an instinctual nature of dropping what I’m doing to help someone else, whether the need is big or small. So when I know that my S.O. needs to find a job back home, I dedicate most of my time to making that happen, becoming absent-minded to my own wants, needs, etc. Sure, I spent about five months interviewing for many jobs, but I never actually had the time to think through the logistics of getting my own offer.

Then it happened. Three hours after my interview, I got a job offer. For my dream job. I couldn’t believe it and I felt a huge wave of relief and excitement… until I realized the other things that it meant. Leaving 3 month old Yeti alone for 9 hours a day. Living 6 hours away from my husband. Finding my own housing close to the city, alone. I was terrified and sad. When I made my 2020 vision board, my success was on there, but further separation for an indefinite amount of time was not. I had a major internal dilemma that translated to family or career.

After I declined the offer, I thought I would feel better. I chose family, which was the right thing to do…right? I didn’t feel better, I felt much worse. Sad, then angry at myself. I felt like every decision I made so far in 2020 was the worst. My emotions were out of control. I didn’t trust my judgement anymore.

For the most part, I still don’t trust my judgement, but I am working on it. Now, about a month after the job denial and 2 1/2 months after getting Yeti, I don’t feel as stressed, but I still don’t feel like myself. I feel changed. My choices were so unfair to myself.

I talked through the job situation with my friends one-by-one and they’ve given me so much grace that I feel I don’t deserve. They say there will be more jobs, they tell me not to be hard on myself, but I already have been. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to drive into the city again without seeing that building and thinking of the possibilities.

Regret. It hurts really badly. But one lesson I’m taking from it is that immediately after I followed the routine path of putting others before myself, I felt sick inside. I felt that I had nothing left to give. I was a shell. I remember a few days after I sent that email, I felt uncontrollable rage. The next day, I woke up at 10am and fell back asleep until 2pm. I had no motivation anymore, which was really scary. Things have always been difficult, but at least I used to always have motivation.

I learned the gut-wrenchingly hard way that I have to be done avoiding my own desires by hiding behind everyone else’s wants and needs. Being humble and selfless are virtues, but not when they are to the detriment of yourself.

What is “Choose what you pay” and does it actually work?

Issues

Online shopping – you know the process. Think of an item and the process usually looks something like this:

Picture the process of shopping for a new backpack. Step one: Google “backpack”. Step two: Find a brand you like that’s associated with “backpack”. Step three: Browse the website until you find THE “backpack”, and step four: Checkout. Simple, without any gray-area. It costs what it does.

But the “choose what you pay” movement is shaking things up.

“Choose what you pay” or “Pay what you can” is a modern pricing structure that is pretty self-explanatory. Businesses don’t turn away customers who can’t afford the listed price of products, so they allow the consumer to look at the product and decide what’s fair to pay.

There’s a few reasons companies might implement this strategy. First, profits may end up evening themselves out. When you give people the option to pay what they think is fair, they might be willing to pay even more — which is an incredible balancing strategy that allows people of all budgets to visit your coffee shop or boutique.

Stores might also adopt the “choose what you pay” philosophy in order to get rid of excess inventory. I recently discovered the ethical clothing company Everlane, which produces clothing carefully and consciously. Everlane specifically takes advantage of this pricing strategy to sell off their excess inventory.

Essentially, they offer select items at three different price ranges, the lowest of which still covers the basic cost to manufacture the item properly and pay the factory workers a living wage (enough to actually support themselves). The other two prices, which go up in increments of about $10-$15, include a note that the extra money will be used towards keeping the Everlane office running or donated towards future product development.

Instead of just listing these items in the sale or clearance section, they let customers decide what they want to pay for them.

Do you like this strategy? Is there any difference between setting one price versus multiple prices? Does a strategy like this empower customers or guilt-trip them into paying more for the same product? Let me know what you think.

Grown or out-grown?

Journal

Is it always one way or another?

Why is it that we grow with some friends, while we outgrow others?

We definitely outgrow clothes, there’s no debating that. As we age up from childhood, there is no way to fit back into our old dresses or shoes. We’ve outgrown them.

Can we outgrow hobbies? Interests? Life goals? Does it make us sad to think so? Maybe if the thought of outgrowing something you once loved makes you sad, leaving it behind isn’t the answer…

Maybe it’s okay for things to take on a new form in our lives. Maybe you’re now seeing things from a new perspective. We become older, wiser, and more thoughtful everyday, therefore our approaches to the things we love also change… But I’d argue that they don’t necessarily leave us; they evolve into something more complex.

I started this blog in 2014 with a passion to write and a bold desire to make a difference. My blog caught a little traction on social media… before the algorithm. I enjoyed pouring my heart into short captions that summed up a new lesson I’d been learning in my own life. Inspiration was aplenty. Life was good.

As I got older, I found it increasingly harder to write. I had deeper, more complex thoughts that were difficult to caption-ize. I wondered whether I’d be perceived as cynical or depressed for using my platform to talk about bigger topics. I wasn’t depressed – I wanted to use my words to start a discussion on important topics, sometimes hard topics: elections, politics, women’s rights, race, gender, norms, etc, to bring a human element into the conversation.

My confidence became clouded as I entertained the thought that many people might not understand what I was trying to say — I’m still trying to understand my own thoughts. And of course, engagement went down. Through WordPress, I can track post reads, which became much more inconsistent at the same time the notorious Instagram algorithm began rearing its ugly head.

The most dangerous thought I had was that I didn’t have anything important to say anymore. Yet I didn’t stop having meaningful thoughts, I still had a means to write, my platforms hadn’t shut down. In reality, my interests evolved. My thinking patterns evolved. My vision for myself and the way I wanted to impact the world evolved.

I love this blog. Creating it was one of the truest, most ME thing I’ve ever done. Over the years, I’ve read more than a handful of messages about it’s impact on readers, from you, even from those who only briefly visit or exit out without ‘liking’ it.

My biggest goal has always been to write in a way that reaches someone else, not necessarily for agreement, but to spark original thoughts and ideas. Looking back, I’ve done that, and I want to continue to do it. I’m not sure exactly how, but I know that I Am Society [carissastory] was created with the same intent and purpose that still lives in my heart and soul.

More from me soon.

I got KonMari-ed

Issues

Yep, it happened.

Marie Kondo has officially changed my entire outlook on the things I want by showing me all that I really need to live the life I desire.

And it was surprisingly easy.

****

Marie Kondo Source: People

Marie Kondo and her organizing techniques are one of the lastest binge-worthy series on Netflix. “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” went live on January 1st with its entire first season available for streaming, offering a fresh start for anyone who’s new year’s resolution was to get rid of their junk or for those looking for more ways to live more purposefully.

One of the first things I noticed when I started Episode One was the sharp contrast between Marie Kondo’s persona. Kondo is a 34-year old Japanese woman hardly even shown on camera without a smiling face. She enters the homes of flustered, frustrated, typical American families to bring her gift of peace.

To begin the process, you throw all of your clothes on the bed, just to see how much you actually have. This part really stirs up my anxiety and seeing the piles makes me feel a little trapped.

Part of Marie Kondo’s process begins with creating a pile of all the clothing you own.
Source: Design Indaba

You navigate through the pile piece of piece, considering the utility of each and every clothing item and consciously thanking the ones you’ve chosen to part with. By internally thanking the item, closure is gained and you feel less guilt about removing the item from your collection.

It seems like an arduous process to go through every shirt, every item with the price tag still on, but it’s a necessary and eye-opening experience. I’ve found that the longer I kept with the process, the easier it was for me to discern between items I truly needed/wanted versus items I was keeping…just to keep them. This mindset kept growing and I felt more and more exhilarated to get rid of the junk. Soon, spending time cleaning out a storage closet felt like self-care, giving me peace of mind.

Long story short, the process is hard when you’re just starting out. But the good news is that it gets better – a lot better. For me, it’s done wonders for my mental state and has taught me contentment. I feel so much less of an urge to shop because I think about filling my closets with things I didn’t really want or need.

There’s an endless number of reasons why people accumulate things, many of them good reasons. We hold onto items because they’re sentimental to us. We value their memories. They might also choose not to part with items in fear that they might need them sometime in the future. What seems to be a common denominator is fear of loss – loss of memories or loss of resources.

More rewarding than avoiding fear is freeing the mind of clutter. Ridding yourself of unnecessary negativity saves time, energy, and allows you to feel like your sanctuaries of relaxation (your room, home, etc.) are truly refreshing and rejuvenating for you.

Just in time for spring cleaning 🙂

You can learn about Marie Kondo’s KonMari cleaning and organizing method on Netflix or with a quick Pinterest search.