“If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another.
And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made—that you made—and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.“
I used to be very okay with a messy bed, as long as one side was clear to sleep on. Something changed though and I’m trying to get to the bottom of it.
Growing up, I ‘ve seen disappointment on the faces of parents, brothers, aunts on stepping into my messy room. I have had (at least) one friend who was as messy if not messier than I was – she’s a writer – and articles used to pop up in my feed about how messiness is a sign of creativity. These days the search results I get are discourses that messiness might be a sign of a personality problem. Does Google know that I crossed over?
Mess bothers me now to the extent that I take care of it within the hour. I think I can now see what others saw in my messy room, and the cause of their disappointment. But it also bothers me that mess bothers me, and in trying to understand why I realized why it didn’t before.
A mess on my bed was something I was cognizant of. I didn’t find it nagging when people exclaimed What a mess! – I already knew the mess existed. Their comment didn’t spur me into action, I knew no reptiles would emerge from the pile, there was no safety hazard like they suggested (on a different note my notes and work desk have always been organized). But more than awareness, I believed the clutter in the room was under my control, no matter how much it looked like it wasn’t.
(I’m sure somebody is comparing that with how addicts say they can stop smoking whenever they want to.)
What bothered me at one point was how concerned and annoyed the adults and more so my brothers were. It wasn’t mere disappointment – it was often anger that I didn’t take care of my room. You would think I was on my way to self destruction or worse, family destruction, from their manners (the latter makes me laugh but wait.. maybe therein lies the answer).
They probably saw lack of discipline, a disorganized mind that manifested as the mess in my room, when it was just laziness and not being able to see the point when there was clearly an extra bed in the room. Why was what went on in that bed anyone’s business but mine?
I hear my father saying It’s my house, I accept I was in the wrong.
Then, around the age of 23, my mother stopped complaining about the mess. I need to ask her why, maybe she accepted it’s wired in me*. Or maybe she somehow figured I’d change at 26.
The change probably started after I watched the video (where lines at the beginning are quoted from) on the other side of my 20s, kickstarting a Do It mode in me. Nobody’s going to forgive you for a messy room after 25. You may have a roommate or a friend or a spouse who isn’t okay with mess, because they see mess and they see an undisciplined you yada-yada. So you keep it tidy for them, and keeping it tidy for them puts you at ease.
And it did do me good – I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve glanced over to the made-up bed in the room when a meeting wasn’t going well or when I just wanted the workday to end, knowing the bed I made is waiting for me. And it indeed made a difference to know that I made it.
The world has impressed on me that a responsible, perhaps even trustworthy adult probably keeps things tidy.
But I still don’t think a messy kid has a problem, I don’t buy that a messy room is indicative of other issues. The messy kid didn’t care about public (or family) perception. It would be wrong to say that being organized is our natural state – it’s conscious effort that might later turn reflexive.
I care about perception now because it can affect the way people make decisions about you, decisions that may not always be apparent yet are important, the younger me is frowning at that and the older me is partly helpless.
I’ll have to find how much of this keeping-room-tidy is conformist and how much out of choice. I’ll update if I figure it out.