Learn to Pack Lightly: A Beginner’s Guide to Lessening Emotional Baggage


I’m the world’s worst packer. I’ve spent a semester in Italy with various trips to other places in Europe, I’ve moved in and out of college for the past four years, and I often take trips home to KC on the weekends in order to get a much needed break with my friends and family. One would think, after all these experiences, that I’ve finally figured out this whole properly prepared thing. Nada, my friends.

I always end up shoving several of my outfits that I would consider wearing into my Vera Bradley duffel, along with outfits that I haven’t worn for months in hopes that one day they’ll be worn again. I almost never get rid of clothes; I have a navy military jacket that hangs in my childhood bedroom, and I just can’t find the energy to get rid of it. This leaves an awful mess and anyone I ever visit looks at me in disbelief at my ability to pack so many useless items.

Is this a self-help guide on how to become more efficient at packing? Not exactly; but my packing skills give some enormous insight into how I deal with my emotional baggage.

I’ve struggled with some deep rooted issues in the past, as have we all, as humans. I’ve let these issues accumulate over the years, resembling my unnecessarily large closet. Eventually the mess inside my soul grew too great to clear out, which lead to the daily struggle of a very heavy heart and cluttered mind. My desire to ignore the problems at hand only worsened my condition and led to my very serious struggle with depression. My junior year of college, the pain became so overbearing that I was crying for little to no reason and began to wake up not wanting to be alive. Everyday felt exhausting; regular tasks like smiling, talking to friends, and going to class left me tired and irritated and by the end of the day, it felt as if I had been carrying a 40 pound backpack and lugged two carry-ons up several flights of stairs.

Truth be told, the weight I felt was the emotional baggage that I had refused to clear out years before. I left self-care on the backburner, and I paid for it, the slow and hard way.

Thankfully, I was surrounded by wonderful loved ones who encouraged me, and kicked me in the butt; it was then that I decided to see a counselor. With her help, lots of prayer, and a change of lifestyle, I began to clear out the emotional baggage I was constantly lugging around. It may seem like a daunting task, but let’s break it down to baby steps.


  • See a counselor. Or talk to someone who is qualified. While I fully encourage surrounding yourself with positive people, your friends can only answer so much. Although they know you best, they don’t know all the answers, and qualified counselors can help ask the right questions in order to help you change your mindset and lifestyle.
  • Find a routine. Self-care, self-care, self-care. I can’t say it enough. Start working out, even if it’s something simple and quick like Zumba (which many find hard and tortuous). Whatever your cup of tea may be, find it and DRINK it. It will not only get you in shape, but help balance out your hormones.
  • Spend time in silence. Give yourself time to think and reflect. Journal, pray, draw, sit outside and watch the birds fly by. I am the queen of extroverts, but reflection is important to understanding who you are and what is important.
  • Treat yo-self. Don’t blow your whole paycheck on a week’s worth of Starbucks, but if vanilla cappuccino is what cheers you up every other day, then by all means, my friends, buy the damn cappuccino.

Lastly, don’t be so hard on yourself. Mental health is often undervalued, but if you struggle with depression or anxiety, these are legitimate health issues, not a choice. So go easy on yourself. When you start to worry, remind yourself of what’s reality or not, and what you are capable and incapable of fixing. Repeat with me: you are loved, you are loved, you are loved.

The most important thing we have to remember is that this is a journey of recovery. Rome wasn’t built in a day, so you won’t be cured in a day. Try and practice good habits, talk to a friend, and let yourself have that fancy coffee if need be. But understand that you’re human and you will have dark days; while I have come out of depression before, I still have times where I struggle with it daily. But I am most thankful for these dark times, because they are forming me into the person I am supposed to be and in them. Because in this darkness, I can see that light at the edge of this tunnel shine even more clearly.


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