What Does a Clean Garage on Social Media Tell Us About Ourselves?

Last week I posted a picture on my Facebook and Instagram accounts that revealed my amazing victory over clutter. I was finally, after nine long months, able to get both cars in the garage.

Since moving into our home this had been a goal, but like many people we were coming up short. We needed one more trip to Goodwill, or one more trip to the trash. It always seemed that there was something standing in the way (literally) of getting my car in the garage.  On this particular Saturday morning I claimed my independence from “stuff” and finally made it happen.

When I posted the picture to social media I honestly thought it was funny more than anything else. I never anticipated how many people would resonate with the picture. It seemed to strike a nerve on social media, 13 comments, 134 likes on Facebook, and close to 30 likes on Instagram. People were genuinely excited and, in some ways, envious.

I was struck by the response to the post and even more surprised by the dialogue around this topic, which lead me to this very logical question: Why? Why are people so enamored with cleaning out stuff?

I think it is because our stuff represents us, and sometimes when our stuff is out of control our life feels out of control. I know there are moments when I look into the room, see that it is a disaster, and all I do is shut the door. I’m not prepared to deal with my stuff. I also know that sometimes my stuff is more than just stuff, I know that sometimes it represents my emotional state or it represents a time in my life that I’m not ready to forget.

In the case of the garage it was about getting settled. I was going to park my car in the garage to finally prove to myself that I was settled.  And when I conquered my stuff I felt good, I felt in control, and for that one moment I felt put together.

I think a lot of us struggle with our stuff. We struggle with our physical stuff and our emotional stuff. And the reality is that the only way to fix either problem is to take the time to go through it. To pick up each piece and each emotion and then decide where it goes. Some of it needs to be put away, some of it donated, and some of it just let go of.

The question is: What are you doing with your stuff?