Functioning as a Mess-aholic

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Junior year of college. I’m an upperclassman now. College juniors have rough, stressful lives; we run around all day from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. with barely any room to breathe in between. Think of how nice it would be to come back from a long day and have a little baby animal to cuddle with and nurture—even if you struggle to care for yourself.

“Are you kidding? Elise, you’re a slob! You can’t even clean up after yourself, let alone a cat.”

Ouch. Thanks Dad.

Let me give you a tour of my current apartment. Enter my room, and you’ll smell cinnamon and pumpkin. I have an obsession with candles and good scents and have them everywhere, so you’d think I’d have my life together then, right? Wrong.

Walk in, and or at least try to, and you will see shoes, socks, hangers, papers, boxes, my Michigan football tickets and my jackets are lying around everywhere. You’ll find different ear plugs scattered along my desk. Cups whose ages I don’t want to admit sit on my windowsill and dresser. Heck, when I do my laundry, half the battle involves going through the clothes on my floor, seeing if they pass the smell-test or need a wash.

I am addicted to the mess. It provides comfort; empty space scares me. But for a lot of college students, they rely on organization and order to keep them on top of things, or even to help them feel calmer. Ask me the last time I made my bed, if you dare…

Call me a slob, but I like the mess. I spend so long running around all day that when I get to my apartment, I just want to relax, not spend time making my bed. I’m the only one who sees my bed, anyway, so why would I bother spending the time to make it just for myself?

Yes, I’ll admit, despite my love of  messiness, it hasn’t been all great;  I know that I can function with it, but last year it gave my roommates stress and anxiety. I guess I can’t blame them for getting upset when they walked into the room and saw confetti all over from my birthday a month prior. But hey, it works for me.

My mother doesn’t understand this either, of course. Every time she comes to Ann Arbor to visit, I start to frantically clean for her. Even though she knows I am her messy girl, I still want to avoid her scolding. “How can you live like this?” my mom says to me, gasping in fright, when I FaceTime her and show her the room.

For me, it works. It works because I’m used to it. I’ve learned to find the things I need in my piles, where my important papers are and where my keys and wallet go when they disappear. My room doesn’t get a grade for its cleanliness. When I’m out at the library, I don’t even think about my messy room. It doesn’t affect my ability to think or do work.I’m able to focus on my assignments and my meetings to be successful even if my floor needs vacuuming or my bed needs new sheets.

In fact, the University of Minnesota conducted a study and found that messy desks and creativity go together. A messy environment can lead to a more creative workflow. To all my haters: This is proof.

Last semester, I got the best grades I ever had in college. I didn’t have any folders for my classes to keep the papers. I just had one giant pile of class papers on my bedroom floor. And I managed. And it worked.

When my peers saw the pile of papers, they would ask, “How are you able to get good grades? I don’t know how you do it.” Contrary to popular belief, I’m not some superhero (unfortunately) who can handle the chaos of my room on top of the insanity of academics mess and school. I don’t have magic powers.

I’m just addicted to the mess.

It doesn’t bother me, it defines me.

It’s who I am. I am messy. And I am proud of it.

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