Claudia Yanos, Division 2, 12th grade #ws17e-s1d2

I strongly believe that life is happiest when we share life with others, without an excessive individual attachment to material things. As a result, I think of myself as the opposite of a hoarder. While hoarders tend to keep everything they get, I cannot keep anything new without replacing something that I already have. It’s not that I am a neat freak (in fact I can be pretty messy at times), but I cannot get myself to keep items I don’t deem as specifically necessary to my life. I’ll often go on purges where I’ll go through every item in my room and sort it into two piles: need, and give away. I believe that what has shaped my relationship with the objects in my life has come from various aspects of my childhood and personality.

My siblings and I are very close, both emotionally and in age, and when we were younger we shared a room together. When we moved into our new house when I was five years old, the assumption was that I would eventually get my own room (which I did), but I was initially still rooming with my brother and sister. However, even though I was excited, I wasn’t itching for my own room or to get away from my siblings. I was old enough to remember a time when I had siblings and to develop a relationship with my siblings that did not have a boundary line, but I was young enough that I didn’t feel a need to set boundaries. So, when I finally got my own room, it wasn’t a place for just me and my things, but a communal space for me and my siblings. My brother would come into my room every morning, sometimes waking me up, and we would play board games or card games or just talk. I did not feel like my room was something I had sole ownership of, but rather it was a space I happened to inhabit. That’s probably why I felt ok with letting my sister wear my old clothes and take things from my room that she liked (books, paperweights, etc). Furthermore, nearly every toy I had as a kid became a toy for my brother or sister or both. I easily got used to the idea that nothing belonged exclusively to me. This feeling of lack of ownership of my items when I was young helped me easily let go of things as I got older. However, this doesn’t account for the reason I actively enjoy and seek out opportunities to get rid of extraneous items.

I’ve always craved having more freedom and responsibility than my parents have always afforded me (even though they’re typically right). I wanted to be able to move around the city (NYC, where I was born and raised) by myself because my other friends were doing it, even though they lived much closer to school than I did. I wanted to make my own decisions about what time I went to bed and when I did my homework. I craved the feeling of being a responsible, independent “adult.” However, my only representation of that (since my parents didn’t count of course), was television. On TV, everyone's room was clean. The only times a character had a dirty room was when they were being irresponsible or they were upset. So, my model for responsibility was cleanliness, or more generally, lack of clutter. Furthermore, it was always a sign of responsibility to throw things away after dinner or to clean out my room.

So, every time I throw something away, I’m improving myself. I get to feel responsible; I get to feel like an adult. The more I throw away and organize my belongings, the closer I get to becoming independent. Now that I am going to college, I have to once more decide which of my belongings really matter to me the most. I have already reached a place where I feel I have exactly what I need, yet, only a fraction of that will travel with me to college. Finally, I am gaining a new responsibility and fulfilling my mental association of responsibility and lack of possession.
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