If you're like me, you may have recently tried to declutter your life. You may have taken nine garbage bags of stuff to the Salvation Army (or tried to sell your stuff to Beacon's Closet with humiliating results). If you're like me, your closet and, let's face it, your entire apartment, still look exactly the same as they did before your decluttering attempts. How did you acquire 11 new tote bags so quickly, am I right? But perhaps that's okay. I've decided that I'm pretty good at being messy. It's my natural state and perhaps it's yours, too. I know where all my belongings are and where to find them. Foreign currency? Inside a Ziploc bag inside a Playboy cigar box inside a desk drawer. Sports bra? Hanging on the doorknob. Cats? Everywhere. We all have a system.
So, let's all learn to embrace the mess. I've compiled a few ways to find the joy that comes with leaving your shit everywhere.
Jennifer McCartney is the author of The Joy Of Leaving Your Sh*t All Over the Place: The Art of Being Messy. She has written for the Atlantic, Vice, Teen Vogue, and BBC Radio 4, among other publications.
1. Messy people are more creative.
It's a scientific fact. Researchers at the University of Minnesota and Northwestern came up with similar results when studying how people reacted to messy rooms: When test subjects were placed in a clean room, they chose "classic" menu items. The also showed more conventional thinking when it came to thinking of creative uses for ping-pong balls. The people in the messy room? They chose "new" menu items. They came up with crazier uses for ping pong balls. So go ahead and embrace the creativity mess brings -- the next great American novel isn't going to write itself (especially if your desk is clean).
2. Piles are an efficient way of storing things.
In his book The Perfect Mess, David Freedman explains that "piles have a chronological meaning to them...people know how many inches they have to go down on a pile to get so many weeks or months back in time, and that makes it very easy to find things." I don't need a book to tell me that. Mess piles are just good science. Every time you want to wear your favorite sweater it's like going on an archeological dig. I wore it maybe two weeks ago, so it's under the black dress I wore last Friday, but it should definitely be on top of my gym clothes which I haven't worn in a month. Remember when you wanted to be an archeologist? We all did. Because of dinosaurs. So, basically, by piling stuff in heaps we're fulfilling a childhood dream.
3. Mess is the real you. Flaunt it.
Your 267 Instagram followers don't care what your coffee table looks like. Your brunch? That's a different story. But spending time artfully arranging some flowers, your Diptyque candle, your Rizzoli hardcover about Palm Springs or Tom Ford, alongside some chevron notepaper and newly trendy maidenhair fern in a hand-painted ceramic pot? It's going to take you much longer to arrange all that stuff, photograph it, then Photoshop it, than it did to just read that sentence. And what's it all for? A few Likes? Will 23 Likes make up for the time you invested in creating that (let's face it) false image? Next time, try a real coffee table shot: half-full coffee mugs, your laptop, a few dishes, unpaid bills, and your feet. Now that's beautiful. Plus, with all the time you saved not photographing your table you have more time for watching baby goat videos!
4. We're lucky to have stuff. Why let it stress us out?
We live in a consumerist society that wants us to buy lots of things and stay in debt forever and then die and look good in our funeral outfit because that's probably something we planned ahead for because buying things is fun. There are some aspects of owning a lot of stuff that are troubling. But the reality is, you live in a place with a roof and walls that contains your things. Which is nice for you. Not everyone has that. So instead of obsessing over what the place looks like, tell your things how grateful you are to have them and then move on to more important concerns like your homework or Tinder profile. But seriously. Don't talk to your things. They don't have feelings.
Courtesy of Giphy.
5. Objects have meaning and that's okay.
Some decluttering books may instruct you to discard treasured items that hold sentimental value. The theory is that these items serve no function and only cause guilt and anguish because of your inability to let them go. That diner mug from a coffee shop on Route 69? Your grandmother's brass candlesticks? The participation ribbons you won at camp when you were 12? According to the declutter movement, this stuff all has to go. I say, what's the harm? It's nice to pick up something and look at it and think of a trip we took or a person we love. It's fun to open a box stored under the bed that we haven't gone through in years and rediscover these parts of our past. Peace of mind may briefly come from ditching all your old things in one massive purge -- but more likely 10 years from now you'll be glad you hung on to the Vegas hotel ashtray, sequined prom dress, and signed copy of Ready Player One. Keep it all. Your future emotional wellbeing could depend on it.
So, if you're still going through a decluttering phase that's fine, too. Wait a few months and then revisit this article. I promise it will change your life.*
*I don't promise that.
By: Jennifer McCarthy
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