From time to time, I retreat from my daily burdens. I have found my reclusion to birth memories of my childhood, which have clung to my sleeves all this time. One particular notion I have stored away from my younger years is an encounter I had with my 5th grade teacher.
One morning, before settling into our desks to begin our lesson, my teacher stopped me at my cubby (a cubicle bookcase) and said these words to me,
“Your cubby hole says a lot about the kind of person you are. If it is messy, then I will suspect you to be a messy person.”
My cubbyhole had become a black hole. I tried shoving everything I could into the 12×12 space. Pencils, erasers, sharpeners, books, homework, loose paper that would later be rendered useless because of the excessive wrinkles and plenty of other random things that had begun to form an Eco-system. Until my teacher explained to me that my mess wasn’t acceptable, I had no idea I was being represented by my own shelf life.
After spending hours repeating the embarrassing scene in my mind, I asked myself, was my space a misrepresentation of me or was it true? Was I a messy person? Am I, a messy person?
Within my household growing up, my mother was very strict about keeping a clean home. The vacuum was introduced to me at the age of five and the mop became the Robin to my Batman soon after. I knew what it meant to keep clean. I knew the pride my mother took in teaching me about the importance of organization and of the sweet smell of lemon scented Pine Sol.
At school, the cubbyhole was my domain. It was a place where pride didn’t exist and conscious of self was lacking. I was free. My cubby was free. Or so I thought.
Following the conversation with my teacher, I made sure to tidy my cubicle daily. I desperately wanted her to know my bedroom was clean at home and every stuffed animal on my bed was lined up in a meticulous way. I carefully placed my books at the right angle to show the text on its spine and I removed any unnecessary junk that would be an eyesore to the class. At the time, what I was doing felt right. Now, I see so many things wrong with eliminating portions of my mess to convey myself as a well-behaved and organized student. The mess of my cubby didn’t take away from me upholding my respectable behavior and the quality of my work didn’t diminish, but I cleaned as I was told. Mess isn’t attractive.
Many of us go through our lives eliminating our mess in ways that portray the perfect representation of ourselves. We choose the right Instagram filter for the new outfit that was bought online at high dollar price. We clutter our Facebook newsfeed with a shitload of vacation photos. We overload our Twitter timeline with news of landing a super sweet job we applied to three months before.
We fail to post the pictures of our vacation that highlighted three days of nonstop rain during the five days we were there. We fail to post about the time when we were jobless and couch surfing. We fail to mention that we didn’t get the promotion we had been betting on for several weeks.
We have learned that mess is unattractive. We fear what our mess will make others think of us. We fear what our mess represents to ourselves.
With life, shit gets messy. We are messy. No matter what you decide to eliminate from the view of the social world, your mess will remain with you when you lock your home screen and power down your computer. It is a portion of what makes you, you.
I can be a messy person, literally and figuratively.
At this very moment, the floor of my closet is littered with clothes even though perfectly working hangers’ dangle lifelessly above.
At this very moment, the airbed I sleep on reminds me I have progress to be made with my life and with my career.
Don’t allow the highlight reel of your life to be a misrepresentation of you as a whole. Appreciate the mess. Embrace it.
It makes you pretty damn attractive to me.