This is the story of how Voldemort inspired me to get organized, and it’s also the post that helped me figure out my niche was turning movies, TV, and books into life and style tips.
I’m 28, and I moved into my apartment two years ago. Prior to that, I had moved four times. And every time I move, I think the same thing: Why do I still own this????
Does anyone else have as much trouble throwing things out as I do? I still have buttons from clothes I’m pretty sure I donated years ago, and my closet, which started with one container of mementos, has grown to two.
I knew I needed a system for getting rid of things, and I finally found one. In between work, school, and volunteering, I took a minute to wonder, “If Voldemort didn’t want Harry to find the horcruxes, then why did he hid his soul in such obvious items?” For those who don’t know, the ultimate baddie in Harry Potter, Voldemort, tries to achieve immortality by spliting his soul into seven pieces (although I’ll argue this wasn’t JK Rowling’s plan until at least the fourth book).
Voldemort hides his soul in the following items, and they’re mentioned in the following books:
- Quirinus Quirrell (Philosopher’s Stone, definite ret-con)
- Tom Riddle’s Diary (Chamber of Secrets, definite ret-con)
- Nagini (Goblet of Fire, possible ret-con)
- Marvelo Gaunt’s Ring (Half-Blood Prince)
- Salazar Slytherin’s Locket (Half-Blood Prince)
- Helga Hufflepuff’s Cup (Deathly Hallows)
- Rowena Ravenclaw’s Diadem (Deathly Hallows)
All of these items are super obvious.
If Voldemort had hidden his soul in random pieces of rubbish in California or at the bottom of the Atlantic, he likely would have won, given how ineffectual Harry, Ron, and Hermione were for most of Deathly Hallows.
But Voldemort choosing these items made me wonder if I owned irreplaceable items. I realized that I do and that these items show me what’s less important by comparison.
So, I organized my items into categories, which I found helps to keep the item’s importance in perspective:
These are items that aren’t technically mine. They’re family heirlooms that I can’t get rid of even if I wanted to.
I run into a lot of issues with sentimental items, because I have a plastic container that I’d ideally like to hold all sentimental items I have, but I can’t seem to get rid of birthday cards. I have a birthday card/obituary folder and it’s way too full. Combining those wasn’t deliberate; they’re just both paper and I only had one envelope. But when I compare these items to my horcruxes, I know which of these I can get rid of.
I put all these items into one category because what they all have in common is that I’m fairly good at going through them and figuring out what I no longer need. I do need to get better at throwing out old cables that may not belong with computers I still have, so maybe that’ll be my goal after I condense my sentimental items. And eventually I’ll post about why I still love my DVD collection and will buy movies on DVDs until they stop making them. But given that the Greatest Showman came out at the end of last year and it’s getting a DVD release, I think people have realized they would like to actually own their movies.
I have paintings from my mum and my grandad. Not paintings they gave me as a gift but paintings they painted. I’ll always keep them. I also buy posters from my school’s poster sales. The poster’s have a shorter shelf life, except for my Slytherin poster, which I’m pretty sure is now permanently glued to the wall.
I need utensils. I also need Windex. As I’m writing this, I’m realizing it’s in order of things I’m good at giving away…for the most part.
With the exception of my kitchen table, I think I’ll be keeping all the furniture I have for the foreseeable future. I especially love my book case, which is an Ikea book case that doesn’t look like Ikea.
If the above categories don’t describe the item, it’s probably rubbish and I can throw them away.
When I know what category an item is in, I know how assess if it’s important.
My dining room table is good until I can afford a different one, my clothes must pass the “Would I buy this if I was shopping?” test, and my sentimental items need to be almost as important to me as my horcruxes (of which I have seven, by the way. Completely accidental).
I think what also helps me donate things or throw things away is that I know that I can’t take it with me.
Eventually, someone is going to have to go through my stuff. If I keep accumulating stuff for the next seventy years, that person is going to hate me.
When my great-grandma died, my grandma and my great-aunt went through her room at the nursing home. This took them less than an afternoon because my great-grandma was so good at getting rid of things. She kept things that mattered, like sentimental photographs and jewellery, but she didn’t keep the ridiculous number of items that I do.
I’ll never be a minimalist.
The problem with minimalism is that it idolizes items more than hoarding does. It claims that if you would only live with as little as possible, you would be happy. It turns stuff into something to be feared, instead of something to deal with in a healthy way.
Besides, if I follow my new system of figuring out which category an item fits into, and then assessing the item based on that, the next time I move, I won’t think, “Why do I still own this????”