The Junk Drawer of My Life
You’re never too old to become younger.
— Mae West
The urge to purge. That’s what gives me immense pleasure these days. Getting rid of all the old stuff, to prepare for the new that I will infuse into my life. A momentous day includes a trip to the landfill to toss broken appliances, used engine oil, and dead batteries. I love going to the Salvation Army where I’ll bring old clothes, worn household items and no longer needed books. All are relics and artifacts of years past, in the feng sui tradition of clearing space to let in the light of a new day.
Yet, I need to hold onto those items that, while not necessarily useful for my daily existence, will connect me to my past. I don’t want to lose sight of where I’ve been, so I can chart a course to where I’m going.
These are the items that I will keep out of sight, yet accessible, and are the elements that will help keep me moving forward. I ask myself: what belongs in the junk drawer of my life?
1. Adolescent angst. Adolescence hasn’t intruded on my life for more than 45 years, yet its slings and arrows need a place in my junk drawer. Insecurities and uncertainties that reigned then often rear their ugly heads today, even though I’ve reached and climbed over my prime years. It helps to be reminded that I survived it then, when it mattered a whole lot more than getting through it now.
2. Twittering twenties. Ah, yes, I was at the top of the mountain during those years. Newly-minted diploma in hand, I tackled the world of work like a bull in a china shop. I thought knew it all. After all, I had the sheepskin to prove it. The next decade appeared, and it became clear to me that I was lacking in so many areas, but, until then, I was unstoppable. It’s worth remembering how it felt to be at the top of the world, with the sobering realization that what put me there was a sham. It’s worth keeping in mind that what I think is not always reality. Check my ego at the door.
3. Thrashing thirties. I became a wife and a parent during these years. No one prepared me for either one. I need to remember that sometimes you just don’t know things, but you do them anyway. You don’t wait for anyone to tell you what to do. You seize the moment and you act. Fake it til you make it. The wisdom comes from knowing when to ask for help.
4. Forlorn forties. Middle age set it and serious self-questioning. Am I in the right career? Am I a good parent? Is my hair turning gray? Vital questions of this decade shaped my status in life from that point onward.
5. Fabulous fifties. Perhaps I really don’t give a damn what other people think, after all. There was a glimpse of this being within me my whole life, even during the adolescent angst. But this persona went underground because it was clear that it really did matter what people thought of me. I needed to face the reality that I was at the whim and mercy of the adults in my life.
6. Sentinel sixties. I’m here. I made it. I am examining the contents of my life to keep sane, sober and upright in a world that can knock me off balance if I lose sight of where I’ve been and who I am. I’m ever watchful, grateful for who I am and what I’ve experienced, and aware that things can change in a blink of an eye.
The reality is that this junk drawer is the only thing that really belongs to me, and I will demolish anyone who dares to dump it.
Including, and especially, me.
Hello, I’m Janet, career coach, writer, workshop leader.
I help women create their best lives through personal writing.