They’re everywhere. They live among us. They go about their daily lives raising little suspicion from colleagues and friends. Only those who live with them know what they truly are: hoarders. And I hate to admit it, but I think I may be one of them.
If, while clearing out your garage or a room in your home, you have looked at something that you have not used in years and thought, “I may need this again,” you’re probably a hoarder. If it’s something you have never used but still keep, there is a chance that you may need years of professional help.
I never knew I was a hoarder until last weekend. I had always suspected it but passed off my desire to keep old photos, school reports and the newspaper clipping that mentioned my old primary school cricket team, as sentimentality. Surely there’s nothing wrong with keeping a few mementos from your younger days? After all, my dad has press clippings from my grandfather’s days as a provincial cricketer; it seems like a memory worth holding on to.
We had to clean out our spare room and garage to make way for guests from the UK. When we moved into our place, we just dumped all the stuff we didn’t immediately need in the spare room and have used it for storage ever since. We borrowed a van from a friend to move a mattress and thought we’d make the most of it by tossing out one or two seldom-used items. One or two. How wrong we were.
We eventually had to implement a moratorium on throwing rubbish away as we simply did not have enough space in the van. An old desk, a broken office chair, a year’s worth of paper and glass recycling, random bits of wood, a broken microwave and a buckled bucket were among the casualties of our cleanout. If we’d had more time, we probably would have been able to get rid of another load.
The trick with cleaning out your home is to be ruthless and pragmatic. If you have not by now used that old blender that your great aunt Edna gave to you in 1999, you are never going to use it. Throw it away. If you’ve been out of varsity for over a decade, those textbooks you are keeping for reference are most likely outdated. Take a good look at which ones are still relevant – if you work in a tech-related field your old books are almost certainly useless by now.
There are benefits to getting rid of rubbish. For starters, you’ll have more space. Which you can fill with things to throw away in your next cleanout. But more importantly, there are probably loads of items you can recycle or give to those who truly need them. Our old desk sat collecting dust, but the chap who unloaded it at the waste disposal site now has somewhere for his kids to do homework. That microwave may no longer work, but someone can either fix and use it or make some money by selling parts of it as scrap metal.
I hope this bit of advice has been helpful for hoarders. Perhaps you should print it and keep it somewhere for future reference. You never know – it may come in handy one day.