Thursday, February 7, 2013

Redecorating my life

The other day I was feeling really down without any idea of how to pick myself up out of the slump. I had already watched two films on Netflix. I'd been neglecting my homework for hours because I knew I wouldn't do an adequate job under the circumstances. I'd spent perhaps too much time on Facebook. It was time to think of something new to do.

And as I sat in my room with its ugly, plain dorm furniture and its ugly, plain white dorm walls, I remembered that I'd been neglecting to decorate.

I said I would do it the day I moved in. But after carrying boxes up four flights of stairs (the elevator was busted), organizing my books in descending height order (I think I have OCD) and realizing I own way too much clothing, I decided that putting up all my beautiful wall decorations could and should be left to another day.

But that left my room feeling constantly unfriendly, foreign and even cold. I would walk in and be confronted by the bareness of its appearance. Four walls, one with exposed brick but the others plain white with nothing on them.

I guess I just couldn't bear it any longer.

So to fix my mood both in the short term and the long term, I put up all the decorations that I've collected in my dorm room(s) since freshman year of college. This consists of several murals, including postcards from every Harry Potter film (including one my dad made for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, since I bought the postcards before that film came out); signs for one of my old dorm's yearly traditions with various thematic (nerd) phrases on them like "It's gonna be totally awesome," "I want to go to there" and "Let's Kill Hitler"; a collection of postcards featuring quotes from John Keats and a painting of John Keats that sit near my head when I sleep; a bunch of Disneyland paraphernalia; a set of art postcards I've found at museums from Chicago to London; and a bunch of random posters I've found or received since my first year at college.

Now, you probably didn't care much about all the stuff that decorates my room. And believe me, I had that in mind. That's why I ran through it so quickly, because in fact, the stuff on my walls is not really the point of my writing this.

When I decided to put up all the silly pieces of paper I've accumulated over the years on my walls a few days ago, I did so as a sort of metaphor for what I wanted to do with my life.

I've realized recently that my life isn't exactly what it ought to be. I have great friends, a wonderful family, I think I have fine prospects in the future. What I don't have, though, is the confidence I need in myself.

When I noticed that day that my room had remained undecorated for these first few weeks back at college this winter, it struck me as slightly depressing. All of these postcards, posters and ephemera have been sitting around in boxes waiting to be taken out. They wanted to prove their worth, but I've been forgetting them, leaving them sitting around and proving nothing other than how much dust a few bags of paper can accumulate.

I think I stopped worrying about it because I didn't feel like I had anyone to impress with it. If no one would see my room in the near future, then why should I feel obligated to make it pretty?

In the same vein, if I had no one to impress with my beauty (inside and out), then why should I go through the effort of showcasing it?

For a while I stopped doing my hair, I wouldn't care as much about how I did my make-up, I stopped writing my blog and in the process I sometimes even forgot to work through emotional instabilities I was having.

But all of these things are integral to my personality - even the superficial aspects (like doing my hair and checking my make-up) make me feel a sense of pride in who I am. That isn't to say that without doing my hair or my make-up I feel lousy, but there's something about the conscientiousness that brings out a feeling of accomplishment.

Kind of like redecorating my room can give me added joy when I walk in each evening or wake up each morning.

I've realized lately that it's little things like this that color your life even when you are feeling down in the dumps. The first time a boy broke up with me, I promised myself that I would not let it show. I continued to wake up every morning and go through my beauty routine as if nothing had happened. I reasoned that I would be failing myself to start wearing sweats or not curling my hair each day. The little commitment to taking care of myself filled me with just enough confidence to wake up each day and have the strength to walk out the door.

Waking up to John Keats (or Harry Potter, Disneyland, a quote from 30 Rock/A Very Potter Musical/Doctor Who, an art postcard or a poster for my favorite play) gives me a similar feeling as soon as I open my eyes in the morning. It's strange to think that something so simple can have such a strong effect on your emotions, but it's also so clear cut and so easy to accomplish that I'm sorry I didn't notice it before.

So maybe it sounds weird, and maybe it doesn't quite make sense, but as of now I'm redecorating my life. I'm going to fill it with all the things I love, all that makes me happy and joyous and try to live with a constant awareness of all that is good. There is goodness all around, after all, even if it's just in the form of a few postcards taped to the walls.

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