I Felt Something After KonMari-ing My Home—But It Wasn’t Joy

updated Jan 9, 2020
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(Image credit: Shifrah Combiths)

I stumbled upon “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo” while nursing my New Year’s Day hangover. I was craving something soothing to distract myself from my pounding head and throbbing feet. Curled up on the couch in my favorite sweats, I turned to Marie Kondo‘s show—that I watched for five hours. (I seriously think my butt left a dent in the couch that day.)

(Image credit: Amanda Becker)

Throughout the show, I watched Kondo help a husband-and-wife team struggling to keep up with housework while juggling parenthood and their relationship, a widowed woman who needed a little push to say goodbye to her husband’s belongings, and a couple who was preparing to welcome a baby. During the course of every episode, I saw each guest’s life change just by organizing their home. In this hungover state, I made a promise to myself that I would tidy up my room and hoped not to regret it—you know, like when you agree to do that 7 a.m. workout.

(Image credit: Amanda Becker)

During the show’s tidying up process, each person found joy in cleaning and organizing, which is something I’ve never experienced. Their lives seemed to be improved in general by the KonMari Method, too. I thought to myself, if it worked for them, it had to work for me. Right?

Like the people featured on the show, my life had taken a few turns I didn’t anticipate and in an attempt to stay afloat, taking care of my home completely fell to the wayside. After months of attempting to get a new job, I was able to start a position last October that I hoped would set me off on the career path of my dreams. Well, fast-forward to the end December, and I was laid off. So I decided I would use this free time productively, and tidying up became the perfect way to do just that.

(Image credit: Amanda Becker)

The first thing I did was introduce myself to my space and set my intentions, like Kondo does. Since I have two other roommates who weren’t too keen on me purging their stuff, the only room I tackled was my bedroom. I sat on my bed and pictured my room as the perfect zen space where I could go to escape the hustle and bustle of the city after a long day. Full of optimism and energy, I ripped everything out of my closet to start with a blank slate. With clothes piled on my bed, the organization began.

After about 10 minutes of examining clothes and thanking the ones I would be donating, I was officially out of gas and ready for a nap. Unfortunately, that wasn’t physically possible as my bed had become the Mount Everest of clothes. I needed a new game plan.

(Image credit: Amanda Becker)

So I decided to break up purging and reorganizing. Once I separated everything, I decided to remove myself from the space and go to Buffalo Exchange with my first round of purges. (I also stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts because after two hours of purging, I deserved it!)

With a renewed desire to invigorate, I was able to get everything back in my closet. Let me tell you, the sense of accomplishment I felt when my clothes took up only half my closet was enough motivation for me to persevere and finish what I started.

I put on my favorite podcast and really dug in. I organized my clothes based on categories, thickness, and color. I’m not sure if clothes based on temperature—colder to warmer, right to left—is Kondo-approved, but it worked for me. As I pushed on and painstakingly folded every t-shirt I own, I kept waiting for that spark of joy to hit me. It’s like I wanted a switch to flip inside me that would take this whole process from agonizing to enjoyable.

(Image credit: Amanda Becker)

For five days, I emptied drawers, donated what no longer sparked joy, thanked clothes, folded clothes, color coded, put them back into drawers, and repeated, all while anxiously awaiting this joyful feeling that I expected. Maybe the feeling comes once everything’s done and I’m able to find my items with ease? Not so much. But while I didn’t find joy, I felt something else that I didn’t expect to feel—accomplished.

(Image credit: Amanda Becker)

Since my layoff, I felt lazy. My days were filled with completing job applications, hour-long trips to Trader Joe’s, and binging TV shows. However, when I open my newly curated closet now, I’m greeted with a tangible reminder of hard work paying off. I know in the grand scheme of things an organized closet isn’t going to solve my problems, but it is a small reminder that I can accomplish something I set out to do.

Maybe that’s what I was supposed to find? I started tidying up looking for joy—and my favorite tank top I swore I didn’t lose but haven’t seen in nine months—and ended up finding something I didn’t even know a needed: a sense of achievement.