Decluttering In The Closet: Commemorative T-Shirts
I’m back again today to kick your butts, hip hip! Eh?
Officially now adding to the list of unanimously possessed clutter: commemorative T-shirts. I have had not one, not four, but all the clients with all the commemorative T’s.
It’s fascinating, really. You slap a “Harris family reunion ’95” graphic on there, or a “Race Around The Park ’89” and all hangers break loose. My clients are unable to get rid of these, despite the fact– despite!– that for the past decade, those shirts have been sitting, however folded, in the exact same spot; unworn, untouched.
In terms of respectful analysis of commemor-T Decluttering Paralysis, I offer the following: Commemorative T-shirts are a case where a material object comes to symbolize for its owner a connection to the past. Unadorned, that T-shirt would be like any other, and you, being a sane and rational person, would have a much easier time parting with it knowing you hadn’t worn it in years. But emblazoned with any event you ever so loosely participated in, that T-shirt becomes imbued with history. In your eyes it is no longer a T-shirt, but a window into the past. It is the event or time period whose logo it bears.
So often the explanation that people offer for holding onto sentimental goods like commemorative T-shirts is that they need those things as a way to access memories they would never otherwise think of. Yet, think about all your most important memories. You’re able to call them up immediately. You don’t need the prompting of a material object to job your memory.
The truth is that the memories that really matter most will be with you and will bubble up from your memory organically. The items, like T-shirts, you keep as a way to ensure you don’t forget something? Well those memories may just not be as valuable.
I understand how difficult it can be to distinguish a physical item from the memory and emotion which with you associate it. Believe me, I get that if nothing else. Making that mental shift is the basis of much of the work I do with my clients.
From my work I can tell you: that shift is possible. That T-shirt really is just a T-shirt, a piece of fabric, a cotton garment. That’s all.
Here are some recommended courses of action for the commemorative T-shirts:
1. Evaluate your collection of T-shirts individually, rather than as one entity. They are the same category of items, but each one is related to a distinct event. Consider which of them are most significant to you out of the bunch, and donate the rest.
2. Begin wearing them- if not to work out in, then perhaps to sleep.
3. If they’re truly so important to you, put those bad boys in frames and stare at them all day long, I dare you.
4. Decide on a certain number or an amount of space those T-shirts will be allowed to occupy in your closet and keep no more than that. When one comes in, one goes out.
5. Get your crafty DIY hat on and make something cool out of them, like a T-shirt quilt. It’s a thing, (I discovered while searching for photos for this post) look into it.
6. Take a picture. I always advise my clients to photograph those things that they wish to remember the image of, but don’t actually need to retain the physical item.
7. Go out and do something that will earn you a new commemorative T. Doing so will remind you that T-shirts are, in actuality, a dime and dozen. Old ones may get destroyed or lost or donated, new ones may come your way, and neither has to dictate your memory of the vastly cool things you’ve done in your life.Image credits: Eve Wright, Oprah, PB Fingers
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