Hi, My name is Neera Gupta and I am a hoarder. (Applause)
They say first step to fixing yourself is to admit you have a problem. So there you go….I have admitted it. I am a hoarder.
But I have a question….
Does holding on to memories make me a hoarder?
I don’t hoard because I have issues letting go…..I “keep” things because I have memories attached to them. Like that smelly headless limbless teddy that my dog JD wouldn’t let go off when he first arrived in our house. It has multiple stitches from all the repair work we did to keep him alive! All of those remind me of the wonderful times we had with our first born (as I like to call him).
And that coffee mug set (fine…..only 1 remains from a set of 4) my best friend gave us for Christmas 10 years ago. It is my way of remembering how we celebrated all occasions and festivals together. Because today, our friendship is only about wishing each other on WhatsApp. Yet I miss her dearly.
We all have those comfy, soft, (now very lose) pajama set which we can’t even remember when we bought. Yet there are so many memories attached to them….slumber party with girlfriends, break up with a boyfriend, sleeping cuddled up with mommy, waking up to Christmas presents and believing in Santa way past adolescence. My favourite memory is of it being passed down from the oldest kid in the family, going through all the cousins and finally reaching me 12 may be 13 years later. I can clearly remember each one of them wearing it at some point or the other. And this wasn’t because we were poor, but because there was so much love and affection and the feeling of togetherness.
I also keep things because I know I can use them later like gift bags & boxes. And it’s not just the money I save but mostly the time and effort of going out to buy a bag or box every time I have to give a gift to someone.
Collector or Hoarder?
So how would you differentiate between collecting and hoarding? Perhaps, if you are keeping things like plastic bags, rags, magazines, non-functional hair dryer, flyers, carton boxes which have no real value or memory attached to it, would that be considered as hoarding? The truth is, people who hoard, believe the item will be useful or valuable in the future. Or for them the object has a sentimental value and may consider an item as a reminder, without which they won’t remember an important person or events in their life.
So, is the headless limbless teddy, the coffee mug, the pajama set, gift bag and boxes, items I have hoarded?
Copyright: Andy Singer
Am I a hoarder???
Because unlike a hoarder, I am not embarrassed about the things I keep. I am not uncomfortable when people see them. In fact, I display them or talk about them with utmost pride and joy. I do not live in a clutter or a mess. I have proper space where I keep all my things and organize them well.
For example, I have a memory box to keep memorabilia for my daughter like her first outfit, her first airplane boarding pass, her hospital tag. I have a separate box for my dogs and for us. Time to time I take them out and remember the beautiful memories we all shared. Things that I am still using I keep them in my cupboard along with the other items. I also have one shelf dedicated for gift wrappers, ribbon, boxes and bags. This way all the things are kept neatly in one place and I have no issues finding them when I need to.
Perfectly good items that are of no use to me like my daughter’s baby clothes, toys, books etc I pass them to my friends or donate to charities. Those that are beyond reuse, repair or recycle end up in the bin. Sometimes I even try my h and at some DIY art and craft to give new life to old items. And yes, every time I have had to move homes (which has been 15 times in last 17 years)…..I have let go of many valuable possessions but certainly not the memories associated with them.
If you are unsure about yourself, seek help. Talk to a professional or reach out to a friend. We all are eccentric in some way or the other but that’s what makes us unique. And the story about those broken sunglasses I have kept….well that’s only going down with me 🙂
Neera Gupta, is a published author and runs an event management company. She has lived in more than 10 countries and recently moved to Hong Kong with her husb and, 15 month old daughter and two dogs. She frequently gives talks on art of networking and supports expat communities locally.