While growing up, my parents emphasized having a neat, tidy, and organized lifestyle. They lived this life around my sister and me hoping, we would see and learn. If my mother wants me to do something, she points out repeatedly until my brain gets tired and finally gives in. There is something about my generation, we get a kick in doing the exact opposite of what is expected!
All this resulted in me turning out to be a very messy child!
My parents did not give up either, and thus I had no help in cleaning my room! My habits and my parents’ efforts resulted in my room becoming the epitome of coziness! There would be 5 to 6 piles of clothes, neatly folded but piles of them on my bed for days before I finally arranged them in my cupboard. There usually was a corner in my room where two, three pairs of shoes would keep lying around waiting to be cleaned and put back into their places. I had enough storage and designated places to keep everything, but periodically, I chose not to.
Some time back, our family was shifting and the interiors were being decided for the new house. I had all these elaborate demands for my room and my parents were reluctant because even after getting a customized room, they would end up creating a mess. I managed to use my communication skills and a room to my liking!
About two months back, I was a part of a project to revamp a company’s presence on social media named Dharohar. It was a real-time project, and it involved a vast team. For almost 3 months, we had 2 meetings a day. We took so many decisions in every meeting and were dealing with a lot of information. In addition to this, we had to keep all the stakeholders in the team informed of our progress at all times. I took up active responsibility to document everything. We started documenting the minutes of all meetings and work updates in a very neat template. Even before I started, I knew it was going to be a considerable challenge for me, given my history with organizing. When the project ended, we had recorded 90% of all actions taken over 3 months.
This influenced me in a very different way. I started making notes from almost all meetings I was a part of. Even with non-work calls like when we were planning a trip to Lonavala, I had the entire plan. It reminded me of school days when every word our biology teacher spoke in class was noted down in our textbooks so that we don’t miss any important points. Making notes, organizing data, keeping information safe became a part of me.
Parallelly, during all this, my academics began online for this semester. I had seen our seniors living their prime college life in their last year of engineering. I had a list of plans ready to implement but the universe had different plans. Cities shut down, the economy crashed and our college started online education. In my first years of studying engineering, I was always relaxed. I never tensed unless it was exam time. Now, when papers and whiteboards turned into ‘pdfs’ and ‘am I audible’, I did not adjust so well. It was perhaps because from March to June I had nothing to do that as soon as college started suddenly, it was very overwhelming for me.
College was always like a steady river and we swam close to the bank but now it seemed like a flood or rapids of a river. We did not know what assignment, submission, and oral exam to expect when. I respected the efforts our professors took to keep us engaged and to ensure our education doesn’t suffer but for some reason, I just felt overburdened.
I had two online calenders to follow for college and projects. I was also learning a lot through projects like Dharohar but it ended up increasing my screentime excessively. I started eating all means in front of the screen sometimes in class or during meetings. I felt a little chained and stressed! A mentor recommended me to do something I loved, therefore I started dancing 3 hours a week with my favorite Zumba instructor. It added to my time table 🙂
I agree, the hustle is a must at this age, but we should also be able to breathe or live the moment the day!
One evening, I canceled everything, missed one lecture, picked up some brushes, and just started painting! I took an old chocolate box and some paints and just started painting! I painted some boxes, added colors, and patterns. I was terrible at it, but it was a little relaxing. After they dried, I do not know what took on me, and I emptied the contents of my entire dresser on the bed. I got a cloth and started cleaning. I started organizing everything. I went on a scavenger hunt in my house and picked up unused trays and boxes and arranged all the makeup and accessories in them. After that, I re-arranged my entire wardrobe. I was feeling happy but not 100% satisfied. So I picked up some artificial flowers and an unused vase from the storage and placed them in the dresser. I went that extra mile and sprayed some perfume on the flowers.
I was so happy that I called every at home to see the magic I was working on. I even video called some friends to show them my work!
While exams, assignments, quizzes increased and work commitments did not reduce. I continued cleaning and organizing. To be honest, I do not come off as someone who enjoys organizing. I would still end up making a mess in my room but every three or four days, I would reorganize and beautify my room. As soon as my exams got over, I did the same for my sister’s room and the storage cupboards of the house! This wasn’t even my territory, but there was no stopping me.
Anyone would be happy to be living in a cleaner room, but a tiny voice in my head thought there was more to this! The reason can’t be this simple – just for distressing! Especially because, at the end of the day, I did go back to making a mess.
After having a few conversations with people around me, I realized the potential source: a seed for organizing that my parents planted in me when I was a child. It was kept alive with my parent’s regular nagging to keep my room clean. During the Dharohar project, I must have watered this seed regularly by unwillingly and then voluntarily organizing.
I may or may not have cultivated a habit.
It was still pretty abrupt for me because it was a war between 3 months of being organized and 20 years of loving a mess.
It is my last year studying Engineering and I have no solid written plan ahead, I felt like I was living in confusion. My life was in a mess. Given the conditions I was in, I did not want to make a decision I would regret. I wanted to slowly sort my life. This mess was a fictional unreal creation of my brain which I realized that while researching for this blog. Whenever I read about people doing well, my friends getting into colleges, getting placed, or securing internships, they felt sorted. I too wanted to feel sorted like them. Thus I resorted to artificial and temporary organizing to temporarily feel sorted and pretty.
I am a big believer. I think, everything that happens to us, good or bad, happens for a reason. Sometimes, we get to know the reason soon, and sometimes, it takes longer to know the motive behind the universe’s actions. But now I think, with the universe’s reason behind a situation, there is another explanation that we can come to and it might be very simple also. Something as easy as, I did not face my thoughts of not figuring out my plans and instead I sorted out my wardrobe and shoe rack. It was so easy, I just had to zoom out a little.
PS: I have reduced my cleaning and organizing to what my family refers to as normally frequent and I made a map of how my next 5 years look, so now, everything is sorted!!
Originally Published at Enterprise India Fellowship on 16th December 2020