Within the disruption and uncertainty of college life, some basic everyday tasks can seemingly be lost in the confusion of homework assignments, group projects, and exams to cram for.
When was the last time you cleaned your room? For me it was at least a few months ago. It isn’t dirty or anything; my belongings are just cluttered, scattered, and can seemingly go on forever – much like my brain when I am sleep deprived (thanks, senior year).
I try to keep my room somewhat organized, but for every item I put back ‘in its place’ a dozen more are seemingly thrown about the room without any discernible order – laundry to be put away, books to be shelved, papers to be sorted and stacked. But this attempt at a normal looking room – one that would be socially acceptable – always fall short.
I tend to overthink everything – every single aspect of my life. From what I am going to have for breakfast, what I am not going to have for breakfast; if I should wear a black t-shirt today or a button down; should I set my alarm for 7:00 a.m. or 7:01 a.m., etc.
However, this overthinking often leaves me in a somewhat weird situation. I have so many thoughts, ideas, and ‘stuff’ constantly running in the back of my mind that, most days, I feel like I am in a mental bind – I know what I want to do but have no clue how to start. Then I get sidetracked by something on my bookshelf or a video online and before I know it I’ve spent a solid hour mindlessly scrolling through YouTube. Then I make a cup of coffee and go on with my day.
I like to think of my mind – or my life, for that matter – as… a mess of sorts. Ideas here, schoolwork there; hopes, dreams, and desires scattered throughout. One day I want to be an astronaut, the next a photographer; two days after that an artist, and somehow I always end up back at being some form of a writer. My interests change with the wind; my music taste varies from folk to 60’s rock to electronic to pop.
One day I decide my new ‘thing’ will be to wear jeans as much as possible, the next will be to invest in an unhealthy number of plain t-shirts. I could wake up on Tuesday and spend the whole day sitting in front of my TV, and on Wednesday I could spend $100 on books and banish my remote to the deepest depths of my dresser to avoid any technological temptation. I can walk into Target for a pack of pens or some gum, and before I know it have spent 45 minutes deciding what my next hair product should be, stranded in the Men’s Care aisle (it’s Everyman Jack Fiber Cream if you’re wondering).
But in all this confusion and chaos, while sitting in my still-messy room, I realized something – and it rings as loudly today as it did a year ago when I first spoke about it:
My room is the perfect painting of my mind.
Journals full of notes, ideas, stories, memories, and thoughts fill my drawers. Dozens of books that are on my “to-read” bucket list line my bookshelf and rest atop my desk waiting to be discovered – at the right time, of course. Pens, pencils, markers, and erasers are everywhere just in case I get an inspiration to doodle something. My camera sits patiently on a shelf waiting for the perfect spark of photographic inspiration.
I have some half-completed “things” in my life: books halfway completed, never to be opened again; albums half listened to, doomed to be lost in the shuffle forever; story ideas with nothing more than a few sentences written.
There are a handful of clothing items strategically placed on my chair for quick outfit options. Post-It notes, notebook paper, and planners are everywhere to remind me of other story ideas, thoughts, or tasks that need to be done (eventually).
Sentimental items and collectibles occupy just the right amount of space on the shelves above my bed – akin to the space in the back of my mind, the space that is specifically reserved for them. My bed is messy with the comforter rolled into a neat pile – because who actually makes their bed?
I used to hate when my room was messy – even the slightest deviation from the picture perfect example in my mind could drive me nuts. But as I have come to realize over the last year, a messy bedroom is just one of those things that I need to accept and appreciate.
For now, this is my only living space. My entire 21-year old life condensed to an 8×12 room. And while it may seem that I have just too much ‘stuff’ for my space, I like to think of it as my mental depository. A place where I can bring as much information and as many ideas as possible to store for safe keeping in hopes that I will find a use for it one day. So until I move out and get a bigger place, I owe it to myself to stop worrying about the clutter.
Is it inhabitable? Definitely. Is it organized? To me, yes. Is it ideal? God, no. But that’s kind of how my mind is – an unpolished, cluttered mess just waiting for me to pick it up, dust it off, and put it good use.
So maybe one day I will finish the handful of books that I vowed to read this summer (or the summers before). Maybe one day I will finally put pen to paper and deliver a completed story. And maybe one day I will come to understand myself and my mind more completely. But until then I am going to go back to my room, put on a record – then change it – then change it again – and then… maybe I’ll doodle. Maybe I’ll write. Maybe I’ll read. Maybe I’ll just sit there and do absolutely nothing.
And maybe I’ll never make up my mind.
And maybe that’s not such a bad thing.
Originally published 10/21/16