By Nidhi Chopra
At the risk of sounding like I am a complete loser who needs a life, I confess that my go-to activity when I’m upset or need to think is pottering around my house organizing everyone’s wardrobes and toiletries.
According to the husband, anyone who prefers to spend Saturday morning taking out every single item from one’s wardrobe only to reorganize and put it back is in need of help. I simply see it as doing the good people on Pinterest a huge favor by beta-testing their ideas on organizing the home, and leaving meticulous comments on what works and what is downright impractical!
I also believe that Marie Kondo and I were sisters in another lifetime. I was exposed to the KonMari method much before her big Netflix debut. I used to pore over her books and marvelled at how she folded and organized. She has a very interesting take on tidying up. She simply requests you to hold each object present in your home or wardrobe and ask yourself, “Does this spark joy?” If it does, you keep it and if your answer is “No”, then you thank the object and let go of it.
I use the KonMari method in almost all aspects of my life now. From old photographs to the seventh tooth that gets presented to me for safekeeping by the resident eight-year old. Storing yet another milk tooth does not spark joy in me so off it goes in the trash when no-one’s looking. However, what really got me completely converted on the efficacy of this method is when I started practicing it on all my personal relationships about two years ago.
Time and again in my adult life, I’ve found myself in noxious relationships – mainly personal ones where I just could not walk away. These could be with friends, boyfriends or even acquaintances. I never really questioned what the relationship did for me. I simply accepted that holding onto it made me better. Now in hindsight, I am willing to admit that I also had a very healthy fear of being alone.
It took me a long time to accept and be okay with the fact that I might end up as the spinster cat lady in your building except with a 13-dog entourage.
After I married my husband and had him sufficiently wife-trained, I thought I had finally let go of that insecurity. However, I found a similar behavioral pattern repeating itself with some of my friendships all over again. I continued to get into relationships that did nothing for me, but I still hung on to them. I was attending social events and get-togethers I had absolutely no interest in. My kids would get put in one useless class after another just because the other kids of other mummies were doing it.
Now, I must add here that the downside of wife-training your husband well is that he will be able to point out your ineffective behavioral patterns from a mile away. I was told repeatedly that I was bending over backwards in my friendships and losing my identity in the process. I was spending time and money doing things I hated, in the hopes of maintaining my social circle and relationships by conforming.
All of this only hit home at 6.30 am one morning when for the umpteenth time I found myself waiting for other kids in the building so I could drop them to school at the same time as mine just because their mummies called at 6.15 am. Well, in my defense all the kids were from the same school as my kids. So, it’s not like I had no backbone at all. I was simply missing a few vertebrae here and there, is all.
I now practice the KonMari method in every aspect of my life – especially relationships and situations borne out of these relationships.
I even apply this to my marriage as I think most of us should. Case in point, I hate to cook. It does not give me joy. The husband, on the other hand, completely loves it. Therefore, my current household arrangement works perfectly. He’s the head cook and I’m the invisible hand that strives to keep everything he needs to cook an awesome meal at eye-level!
I think the KonMari method would work perfectly in every kind of marriage – even the ones that are settlements but get paraded as marriages to the world. I know of several marriages within family and friend circles that are barely even operational forget being joyful. I have several close friends who’ve decided to move on from toxic relationships and are much happier individuals today.
“When we really delve into the reasons for why we can’t let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future,” says Marie Kondo in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.
I categorically refuse to be stuck in my past and also refuse to become beholden by fear of the future. Not every relationship is worth putting time and effort into. Some need to be enjoyed from a distance whilst keeping the faith in knowing that you will survive and eventually thrive if you hold on to your beliefs and seek positivity. It will eventually make you healthier and joyful too.
Nidhi Chopra is a Singapore-based digital entrepreneur, an in-the-closet writer, mother of two, wife of one, friend to many.