The benefits of rearranging your stuff

The benefits of rearranging your stuff

I hate clutter. Whenever I enter a cluttered space, my mind slowly sinks into quicksand. I get a cortisol spike followed by a strong state of restlessness. I can't do anything except concentrate on it — the stuff around me.

Unfortunately, I live with a hoarder. My mom has always embraced stuff as an emotional escape. Things represent fulfillment to her. Excessive decoration is a sign of respect to your physical space and its aesthetics. The more, the better. I've always failed to understand this need for clutter in front of your eyes. I've often told her: "All I want is a big room with white walls, nothing else."

But at home, all I have is clutter. At least I have succeeded in isolating my room from the rest of the house; this is a safe space. A safe space dominated by emptiness. An emptiness that represents freedom and allows me to exercise moderation. Enter my room: a bed, a coffee table, a drying rack, a mirror, a commode, and a clothes rack. My decorations are plants and dust. I like it this way.

For the past couple of weeks, however, my room failed to serve as my mental escape. I was fidgety here: every second thought was an invitation to clean and organize. I was simply dissatisfied with the status quo. Finally, my room became like the outside world I dread. The dilapidated places and obnoxious disrespect that I was constantly complaining about have breached into my personal world.

I was determined to fight these feelings, but I was helpless facing the prospect of the grand réarrangement. Moving stuff around in your room is a trivial action on a global scale. But to the owner of the room, it's an introspective fight. Animal instincts to resist change notwithstanding, it feels strange. Why did I put the bed there in the first place? Am I really supposed to throw my dust away? I needed help.

I reached out to my significant other — the only person I trust to change things in my room. Outside perspective is good, but outside action can be even better. So we started moving things around. We put the bed in one of the corners. I moved the mirror to a different wall. Then some small adjustments: slightly moving the commode and turning the clothes rack, then finding a place for the coffee table. It felt awesome to see the floor beneath where my bed used to be. It felt awesome to regain lost personal space.

For the past three days, I've been waking up in a different place. My habits have also changed: new light enters my room from the windows, so I wake up earlier. My phone rests farther from me at night. I'm not afraid to leave the door open. I'd like to think that these changes are inherent. I was simply not giving myself the right environment to foster this growth. I'm content now; I don't want to escape.

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