Conversations With Anxiety: Spring Cleaning

Well, this is embarrassing.

I am a hoarder. In my room, you will see lots of pieces of paper that have absolutely no meaning that are on every surface.

But, Whitney! You might need that tag from your new Nike shorts. Or that receipt from the grocery store. Especially if you’re audited. Because you’ll probably be audited.

I cleaned my room a few weeks ago. I piled up all the random pieces of paper, scraps of trash, empty prescription bottles (but what if you need them as EVIDENCE for something?), and empty boxes from packages I ordered ages ago. I don’t know why I keep all of this nonsense, but I get really antsy every time I have to throw something away.


What if I need that syllabus from a class that I’m not taking anymore? What if someone asks me about it? What if that is what’s keeping me from getting published? What if it’s secretly a message from Agents of SHIELD and they want me to join them? What if it’s secretly a portal to Middle Earth? WHAT IF?! 

So I stopped listening to that voice, and I threw out pretty much everything. And since then, I’ve been doing it consistently. I’m learning to get out of my brain, to stop creating worries when there isn’t anything to worry about, and to live a cleaner life.

With that has come a few new realizations about spring cleaning:

1. Dog hair is disgusting, and also, I should probably vacuum more often. That, or turn Atreyu’s extra hair into a beautiful mohair sweater or a shag rug or a brindle scarf or a hairy lampshade or something. He just keeps shedding, which makes me worry that maybe he is sick or maybe he hates me AND THEN I HAD A DREAM THAT HE WAS SHEDDING SO MUCH HIS SKIN AND TAIL FELL OFF. See what I mean about creating worries when there isn’t anything to worry about?

2. I’m way, way too dependent on technology. The past few months, I’ve been learning to put my phone away, and put my computer down. I’ve learned that I’ve really lost the ability to communicate with people verbally because, you know, I’m good at words and stuff like that. So I’ve been effectively cutting back on technology since January in order to relearn how to use a phone as a phone. So far, it’s only kind of working, but that’s because I have the NYT crossword puzzle app on my phone, and damn, that’s fun.

“I wish I knew how to quit you.”–Gay Cowboy Whitney/Jake Gyllenhaal

3. Relationships are like plants, or something. Along with my technology issues, I have learned that I’m not very good at being involved in the lives of my friends if they are not in my immediate area. I’ve been worried about that a lot lately–they think you’re awful, your friends hate you, you’re a terrible friend, why don’t you call more? Why haven’t you gone to see them? Why are you so distant?–but I’ve been also trying to show that just because I’m not actively involved with people who live far away doesn’t mean I don’t care. I’ve been shooting out texts (irony!) telling people that I miss them, love them, and care about them. I’m embracing the fact that I’m much more likely to want to grab dinner with someone in town and catch up for hours over sweet potato fries than I am on the phone more frequently or even over Skype. It’s my preferred method of keeping touch, because it’s the least stressful, and most rewarding. So sorry internet friends, and real life friends, and college friends, and old work friends, and everyone else: I LOVE YOU, but, like, can we talk when we’re in the same town? Just because I’m not reaching out doesn’t mean you aren’t in my brain, it just means that I hate talking on the phone.

4. Sometimes it’s really, really good to get rid of old writing. And other times it’s hilarious. A few weeks ago, we did a reading from our old journals. Which got me thinking about all of my old writing, which made me think of you readers, and made me want to embarrass myself and give you something to entertain yourself.

So, as part of my spring cleaning, and being more open and honest, and also laughing at myself, please find your way to My teenage DeviantArt account, where you can laugh until you cry at all my old writing.


I’m sorry I’ve been so distant, blogosphere. Let’s take this relationship to the next level as I get prepared to drive cross-country once more.

39 thoughts on “Conversations With Anxiety: Spring Cleaning

  1. I am completely the same! I’ve even been known to keep shoes that have completely fallen apart and smell disgusting, just because I’m a sentimental soul. Loved this post 🙂

      1. Because every time you look at it you remember your wonderful (I hope?) time in Europe! I can’t even tell you how many bags full of shampoos I’ve stolen from hotels that I never intend to use

  2. My purse is really just a carrier for Target receipts and chapstick. I really need to get on this. Great job on weaning back on the phone dependence!

      1. Wait until parenthood! My purse is a carrier for all things children: cheerios, hot wheels, crayons, crumbs, diapers, etc. That’s on top of all the receipts, coupons, and chapstick! Serious black holes.

  3. Oh, goodness. I am a hoarder. Some day I might NEED that thing.
    I WILL eventually fit back into that dress!
    Books and papers and notes… anything with even a HINT of sentimentality attached to it. (That broken guitar string was given to me by that guy I had a crush on senior year! So what if he was a jerk and I am SUPER thankful to have moved on? How DARE you suggest I rid myself of this tangible piece of my past!???)

    And pretty much EVERYTHING in number 3. yep. Everything.

      1. We can be hoarding friends as long as you promise to admire my junk without touching it. (MY PRECIOUS…… ^_-)

        Those 500 cds I don’t listen to anymore? At least they show I have great (and diverse!) taste in music.

  4. I could relate to every single thing you said.
    I’m a major hoarder, but the universe hates me because when I finally admit, “Okay girl, time to throw away some thangs.” I throw them away, and I need it by the next week. I’m cursed!
    Gots to do some spring cleaning myself. Pinterest all day err day. Home décor diys….for more hoarding.
    Another major thing you said. Did not know relationships were so hard. It’s so much easier when you have a regular school schedule. You’re forced to see people everyday, but when you’re doing your own thing…kind of forget people’s names.

    1. I just would like people to know that I’d much rather talk to them for six hours in person about everything that’s happened over the past year than call once a month for an awkward conversation that I’m not good at. Just because I don’t do that doesn’t mean I don’t care!

      1. I sooo resonate with your whole post, but this most of all. Phone chatting feels like small talk to me – forced and phony. Also, I have one of those bagless vacuums, which means I can see how much dog fur I pick up per square foot… it’s always gross.

  5. Great post. Mom is trying. She has a little box she carries into a room and fills it up to throw AWAY. It’s a start in the beginning. XOXO – Bacon

      1. Well get out the whip because mommy has a LOT to do. She *never* tosses anything. I’m always after her – snorts. XOXO – Bacon

  6. I’m not a hoarder unless you count books, and I certainly hope that you don’t. But, do you really think it wise to allow me to view your DeviantArt account? I already plan to make fun of you endlessly without adding fuel to the fire.

  7. I used to he a hoarder, but soon I learned to discard things I haven’t touched for over six months, and now I’m afraid I’m obsessed with throwing things away. Later I regret it, of course, but I think I live a cleaner (and more frugal) life this way!

  8. I commend your efforts at cleaning up your workspace – I may, too, someday. Currently, its a pile for everything and everything in its own pile.

    Now, you’ve inspired me to think more about cleaning.

  9. I don’t enjoy cleaning, but I thoroughly LOVE to throw things away, and unclutter my shelves and cabinets. It’s a catharsis. And it doesn’t have to be Spring for me to do it!

  10. Now this is a post I can totally relate to! I intend to do some cleaning time to time and even sit with all the items I have, but instead of throwing them away I feel more and more attached to them! Hope I can even muster the courage some time soon!

  11. This was great – – the link to your teen writing is not working for me. Will ty it later. I sure wish my mother had saved my stuff from back then. My creative writing teacher used to write long, elaborate comments and I could never tell if he was just trying to raise my self-esteem or if I was any good back then. Anyhow, very curious to know how you tamed the hoarder and taught it not to have a panic attack? I tell myself that if I need it again, I can just buy it, but still my heart starts pounding because I think, “what if the manufacturer discontinues it??” I love What ifs?? They get me nowhere.

  12. I’m so glad a piece I wrote on procrastination inspired the blog gods to tell me I should connect with you. They were right on. I, like you, am going through old writings and finding treasures to either laugh at, be mortified by, be proud of, want to rework and share, or want to rip to shreds and know I’ll regret it later so decide to hoard it for another look years from now. I look forward to procrastinating on my own work and reading yours instead. Feel free to do the same with mine as I’ll likely post a plethora of good, bad, and ugly things in the near future just to get them out of these old files and piles. Love your humor. BTW, we have lots of people in our household and there’s quite a bit of OCD and we’ll call it “saving” going on.

  13. Brilliant. I enjoy cleaning but I used to keep things as you did, questioning myself “what if?”. What got me through the habit was the saying “If you want to have new things in your life, get rid of old ones and make room for the new stuff”. It helped me get rid of a lot of things; things I didn’t even know I had. Also, I agree with you on keeping in touch with friends thing; I’d rather have a 15 minute conversation over coffee or something than talk to someone for hours over skype or phone. I try my best to avoid being slave to technology and embrace the natural sides of life, simple things that matter.

    1. I’ve gotten a bit better with phone calls, though I still have no idea what to do with my hands. Maybe I should just get back into cat’s cradle? That could work.

      And if I get something new, I have to get rid of something old. Or at least that’s what I tell myself. In practice…ehh…

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