I Will NOT Wear It Someday
As a proud member of the ADD / ADHD Adult community, it's no surprise that I truly dislike cleaning out and organizing my closets. The only thing that would get me to start spontaneously clearing out my clothes closet is the opportunity to stall on doing something else I find even less motivating.
Last weekend, the clothes closet was the lesser of two evils. The worse evil was filing. (In fact, filing was actually a stalling device for … well, I won’t go there!)
So there I was on Saturday with this sudden urge to purge my clothes closet. I knew I had lots of clothes that didn’t fit. Some of them had been too small for over 15 years. But these items had survived several former purges because:
- They were in perfect condition, or were even unworn (some still had price tags!)
- They had cost more than I’d spend now on clothes
- I had loved them in the past
Any of these conditions allowed them to slip into the “I might wear them someday” category that I call one of the mantras of people with ADD / ADHD. This “might need it someday” clutter trap has us holding on to everything from old college textbooks to ancient credit card statements (long past the time they’d be needed for tax documentation) to broken furniture or crockery that you think you might want to repair.
These clothing items were from the late ‘80’s and ‘90’s, old enough to look dated, but not old enough to be retro hip. I had clung to them, thinking I’ll someday lose enough weight to fit into them again. But this time, a new insight emerged in this closet purging that had somehow escaped me before.
Even if I were to ever fit into these clothes again, they would be hopelessly out of style and no longer appropriate for my age or my life.
There is no way I will ever again need a shoulder-padded navy blue consultant’s pantsuit with legs long enough to cover 3” heels. And much as I loved those low-cut slinky tops, I must regretfully admit I won’t be wearing them again in this lifetime. So a two-foot high mountain of clothes is getting donated to a local charity.
When I made the call for pick-up, the charity representative reminded me that they'd be happy to pick up furniture and household items as well.
My eye falls on the antique rocking chair that I scored for $20 at a neighborhood tag sale. I had thought it quite a find with its intriguing wood carvings, dismissing its need for refurbishing. But it’s too big for the room and uncomfortable to sit in. And suddenly, the idea of gaining some floor space in the room is very freeing.
I hope I can remember this feeling the next time a tempting but completely unnecessary item calls to me from an attic sale (“Take me home… I'm only $10!)
I am confident I will NOT need it someday.
I enjoy reading your posts, and this one in particular. I was diagnosed with ADD at the age of 32, about a year ago. I have always avoided reading for the most part but have recently read this book. The Life-Changing Magic of Tiding Up by Marie Kondo. It is amazing and for us ADD/ADHD people who suffer from keeping things like you mention in this article, it is a huge help. More information can be found at: http://tidyingup.com/
Every ADDer needs to buy the Life Changing Magic of DeCluttering by Marie Kondo. It is amazing and worked even for this crazy messy ADDer!!
It looks like Marie Kondo has more than one fan, but each of you gave a slightly different title.
The complete title is: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. Thanks for sharing.
Absolutely true. Not anywhere near as extreme for men. But it is very difficult. I finally got a bug up my butt a few months ago to attack my over bulging closet. 4 hours and 3 large garbage bags later, I had a great big donation to Amvets and can actually get in my closet again. There actually is quite a bit of space on the rods, and I keep finding more things I should have gotten rid of before.
Even though I feel great every time I see the floor of that closet, it just isn’t enough to kick me to attack other things...
Bob, I know what you mean. Seeing a nice neat file drawer feels good, but I’d STILL rather do anything else but file!
Oh gosh, I didn’t realize this was part of my ADD… Your statement, “Even if I were to ever fit into these clothes again, they would be hopelessly out of style and no longer appropriate for my age or my life.” covers a lot of ground and I will keep it in mind when I make the time to purge!! Thank you!
It’s hard to ever know what part of us is ADD, versus simply reflecting our personality. I can only say that there are a LOT of people with ADD who think they’ll someday need every scrap of paper, rubber band, odd sock… At an extreme, it can look like hoarding, though the thinking is different. It’s not so much that we’re anxious about getting rid of things as that we really do believe we’ll find a use for them.
(Of course, if the day were to ever come when you remember you kept that item, just try FINDING it!)
Well, I just finished clearing closets, but I had some pretty clear purge parameters as a trans* person who has little use for the old wardrobe. However, I do accumulate new wardrobe…
But if we don’t talk of the clothing, sometimes it is more complex. Yes, I have a lot of stuff I haven’t touched in years. But I just retired, and split up with my spouse, so that means a lot of this stuff will start being processed – and making money for me, I hope. So it’s kind of like the difference between quitting drinking and quitting overeating. Drink, you just struggle to turn off, buit there is is a distinct measure. Either you did or didn’t. You can’t give up food entirely.
And that’s part of the problem with my mess. (I am making progress – thank goodness – for once, but it is glacial.) It seems sometimes for me the better approach is “I have 5 things like this. Which are the two best?” – instead of looking for trash, look for gems. Assume most of the shit is going, and you’re just picking the best 1/3 (or 1/10, or 1/2) that will remain. And then you can dump stuff that’s perfectly good, because you’ve established you have better ones so don’t need that.
But damn, I wish my pre-frontal cortex etc would just play along and do what it’s supposed to do. The constant struggle against the wall of stuff is exhausting and frusttrating as hell.
Rivke, you explain the dilemma so well. Interesting concept to decide whether you should be looking for trash, or gems. It gets more complex when you can comb through your closet and shelves for things to sell — that you can decide you don’t want to keep, but then have the additional decision of whether to sell it and how to price it.
Perhaps you do an initial PERSONAL pass through the closet strictly for what you will keep. Then, move into the BUSINESS phase with everything you remove: sort those items into piles of what you will sell, donate, or trash.
I saw on Ebay and Etsy that people are actually selling women’s ’90’s clothing like the things I have. But for what they get for it, I don’t want to spend the time. I can donate them and take the tax donation.
Hi Bonnie-The real truism in your post is that actually doing things we are not looking forward to helps me to identify what I want to do even less! In some ways this procrastination can be informative in this way, and I CAN get much done while avoiding the even more dreaded task!
The key challenge is starting these that are THE most dreaded, then trying to just start! Not always easy for me to say the least, but it does provide focus and motivation for the less dreaded task!
Fred, help is on the way! Watch your emails for free video training starting next week, and my Procrastination Transformation training program in October.
Comment When I retired four years ago, I set about de-cluttering and cleaning out because I was waiting for my disability checks to start, and badly needed the money. (That’s ONE way to motivate ourselves!) I must have sold, donated, and trashed the equivalent of two dozen lawn and leaf-sized trash bags of stuff: clothing, shoes, handbags, hats, scarves, coats, plus home decor and accessories of every description. I even sold some old silver that wasn’t taking up space, but it fetched a good price.
Now, four years later, I look around and wonder, why does my home STILL seem so full? Closets and all? I swear things just seem to GROW! I got so tired of constant, mostly fruitless attempts to organize and de-clutter that I have put it all on hold in order to just do things that I enjoy doing–art, photography, crafting, etc.–and I’m feeling much better. It came to me, finally, that no matter how much stuff I get rid of, I am NOT good at organizing, and my home is going to look cluttered, period. I’m not at all reluctant to get rid of stuff, I’m just tired of doing it. It’s like a full-time job, and I’m not up to that.
I’d rather start using some of my strengths and doing things I’m good at! Someday, I’ll tackle excess clutter and continue my pursuit of a filing system that works for me, but life does not consist of fighting my ADHD while ignoring everything else. I’m retired, and I want to enjoy myself for a change!
Bravo Lesley! We waste too much of our lives worrying about what we’re NOT good at instead of enjoying what we ARE good at. What’s the point of retiring if we can’t relax?
Small Changes Can Make Big Impacts for Adults with ADD/ADHD
[…] small steps like hanging up your clothes rather than letting them pile up – or cleaning out your closet – or doing the dishes as you use them instead of keeping a messy kitchen are just a few examples […]