using the KonMari Method to build my confidence

One of the aspects of subjective perfection that has been hardest to overcome is increasing my self-confidence. So I'm excited to begin a series of posts dedicated to methods and steps I've used to do just that! Each post in this series will be tagged as a part of the "Becoming Confident Series" so you can easily find them. I hope you find your own self-confidence through reading how I've worked to increase my own!

For some time the KonMari Method of tidying has been circulating among my friends, acquaintances, and family members - many of whom have been talking about their interest and success in de-cluttering life with this system. The KonMari Method was developed in The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, written by Japanese organizing consultant and lifestyle expert Marie Kondo. Her process takes the reader through tidying clothes, books, papers and other areas of your home, presenting this challenge for each area: ask yourself whether each object you have is achieving a purpose. Is it propelling you forward or holding you in the past? 

I was first introduced to this book in August of last year and was quickly intrigued by that challenge. The KonMari Method requires that you begin your tidying process by going through your clothes, a part of life with which I have had a long-term love/hate relationship. This struggle stems from being unhappy with and self-conscious of my body size. I know I'm not alone by any stretch - all of the influential women in my life have struggled in this area, and I am sure that some of you may share my struggles as well! So as much as this post is about the KonMari Method and using it to clean up my closet, it's also about how being unhappy about my body has impacted my ability to be subjectively perfect. 


My journey with self-consciousness

It all began in elementary school. I distinctly remember being in fifth grade and writing in a diary about how much I thought I should weigh. I wrote down my current weight and created a tracker for sit-ups because I thought that was going to be the magic exercise to whittle my weight to a smaller number. My self-conscious body image continued through middle school and high school. I didn't feel like my clothes were the right style compared to the more popular girls in school, but I also didn't fit well into the clothes that were considered stylish. I began trying various weight loss solutions - Weight Watchers meetings, Slim Fast shakes, LA Weight Loss - all of them providing some success but nothing long-term. The comparisons continued those many years and I always felt less than the other girls in my class.

My body image comparisons continued through college. I joined my sorority as a sophomore and, while it was actually a very body positive environment, it gave me a platform to compare myself more easily against a wider pool of women - those who were in the other sororities. My sorority chapter was a group I could use for accountability (helpful!), but one that could also promote sabotage in changing eating and exercise habits (unhelpful!). Body image issues persisted as a graduate student and in my second year I worked, intermittently, with a woman who struggled with an eating disorder. I remember during a conversation realizing that I was jealous of her determination, all the while knowing that what she was doing was harmful. 

  During a summer break in college, wearing the dress I would wear every week to weigh in at Weight Watchers meetings.

During a summer break in college, wearing the dress I would wear every week to weigh in at Weight Watchers meetings.

  During the summer in between my first and second years of graduate school on a study tour I took of the UK with my program. I  loved  scarves and cardigans in graduate school because I thought they camouflaged my size. 

During the summer in between my first and second years of graduate school on a study tour I took of the UK with my program. I loved scarves and cardigans in graduate school because I thought they camouflaged my size. 

So how does this all relate to tidying? Well, when I began reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, my closet had clothes ranging in three different sizes. It was disjointed, contained a variety of fashion styles from my college, graduate school and early professional years, and didn't give me any confidence. I allowed its disorganization to excuse shopping more often because I regularly "didn't have anything to wear." I was stuck in a cycle of buying new clothes to make myself feel better while also dieting and exercising to get back into the clothes that used to make me feel good. Nothing was working. 


The tidying process

As I read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and thought about my clothes I had moments of both apprehension and excitement in tackling this tidying project. I knew it was going to surface emotions and thoughts that I try very hard to suppress in an effort to be more positive about size. I also knew it was potentially going to give me the opportunity to take control of those negative feelings and turn them into something positive. 

  My "after" pile of clothes that didn't make the cut to stay in my closet. I wish I had a photo of the "before"! 

My "after" pile of clothes that didn't make the cut to stay in my closet. I wish I had a photo of the "before"! 

As I began cleaning out my closet I made sure to follow the process outlined by the KonMari Method very closely. She writes that you should empty your closets, drawers, spare rooms, etc. and gather all your clothes into one space. Then, once gathered, you need to separate them into categories - tops, pants, skirts, dresses, sweaters, coats, etc. Items from each category should be placed on the floor in distinct piles. From there, you move through each pile, picking up each individual clothing item one by one and holding it to see whether or not it gives you joy. 

When I began this process, I had enough clothes to fill a very full closet, three full under-the-bed boxes, and two full dressers. When I ended, I had a partially full closet, one under-the-bed box of winter sweaters that don't get much use in Florida, and one partially full dresser. And, more importantly, I had a closet full of clothes that resonated with who I am now. The disjointed feeling and varied fashion styles were gone and in their place was a closet of clothes that fit properly and gave me more confidence than ever before


The results of increasing my confidence

Friends, hear me when I say that I still struggle with how I look and feel. This isn't something that will go away overnight, if it ever goes away. But I'm finding each day is a little bit less negative and a little bit more positive because I've given myself the opportunity to address those negative feelings head on and choose to move past them. Now when I get dressed, I don't have to play the "is this going to fit?" game because I know that everything will. And I have continued to institute this tidying process on a quarterly basis, taking inventory of what I have and what isn't giving me the joy that it used to. By continuously taking stock of how I feel about my clothes, I've given myself the opportunity to own how clothing impacts my overall view of myself, increasing my self-confidence as a result. 

Tidying my closet using this process also helped me identify my style more accurately. If you were to look at my closet now, you'd see clothes that make sense together - they are a little bit classic, a little bit casual and a little bit trendy, and they match who I am as a person. Additionally, I have a clearer picture of what to buy when I do choose to go shopping. For example, the one item you won't find anywhere in my closet anymore are skirts. I got rid of all of them through this tidying process because I could never find a skirt that made me feel good! Now I skip that section of a store or website entirely and focus on the clothing items I know make me feel confident instead. 

The KonMari Method helped me build self-confidence and value myself as I am because I accepted the challenge - with each item I held, I asked whether it was achieving a purpose and if it propelled me forward or held me back. The KonMari Method helped me tidy not only clothes but also the emotional baggage which accompanied them. Both my mind - and my closet - are now much lighter!

I'd love to know - how do you tackle your body issues, and who do you turn to for support? Do you ever feel like you're the only one struggling? Share your thoughts in the comments - I know there are others out there hoping to connect with someone sharing this struggle! 


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