Yesterday I went through the painful process of cleaning my room, something that really only happens once a year. Most other times I’m too busy to dedicate the necessary four or five days to the task, so I usually have to wait until summer or some other extended period of time in which I don’t have school. Don’t get me wrong, my room isn’t a pigsty by any definition of the word other than my mother’s (she, by the way, has asked that I emphasize that she has allegedly asked me to clean my room for two years – I beg to differ). It just had fallen into a bit of disarray since Academic New Year (the weekend of Robotics Kickoff and the first Mock Trial tournament, when we all sign an oath in our own blood promising not to get more than two hours of sleep each night on average – most likely I’ll post another day explaining this strange academic phenomenon), meaning that there were piles of textbooks, study books, binders, papers, assignments, and other miscellaneous crap strewn about my floor (in organized piles because, of course, I can be a slob, but I must be an OCD slob).
So, after certain events caused me to be unduly stressed, I began the cathartic process of violently attacking this mess. I began in one area – the disaster area between my TV and my desk – but as I proceeded to clean that I realized that there were a half dozen areas I would have to clean before I could appropriately organize that one location. It was a veritable domino effect of cleaning, and I still only got to about a third of the mess before sheer exhaustion ended my frenzy.
Let’s just say that by the end of this process I had four of those giant, black garbage bags full of stuff to get rid of (two trash, one donation, and one recycle – don’t worry, I made sure to separate all of the school papers for the recycling bin, I know you were worried). While my problems hadn’t gone away, they seemed a bit more manageable once my thinking space was less disorganized.
But in going through my room there were a few things that I found quite a lot of, and this caught my eye.
First: school stuff. I am a self-admitted academic hoarder. I found papers from 2005 and 2006 in my closet, notebooks from the early days of middle school, sheet music from years back, and worksheets dating back to when my handwriting still included little hearts over the i’s. In the spirit of fresh beginnings, I got rid of most of it. Admittedly, I had to go through it piece by piece and justify throwing it all away (“No, Kait, your 7th grade biology notebook will not come in handy when you’re in college, I promise you…”), and yet my heart still cried at the thought of all of those memories hitting the recycling plant and being turned into toilet paper. What this made me realize is that school is my life. Now, most people I know would say that this was obvious and refute any claim that this was still in question. I guess I was just in denial, then. My entire life is devoted to school, and I’m not sure if that’s a good thing at this point. Yes, academic focus is important, but I’m reconsidering whether or not I’ve prioritized it more than other more important things like my relationships with people or my self-growth or my faith. I don’t know. These questions can’t be answered right now, given that it’s almost midnight and I’m not of the frame of mind to attack these kinds of issues from a rational standpoint, but they gave me a lot to think about.
Second: birthday cards. You wouldn’t believe the sheer volume of birthday cards, thank you cards, random letters, and congratulation cards I have kept over the years. I thought that during the last Great Bedroom Cleaning (it was Christmas 2009, if my memory serves me correctly) I got rid of most of those old cards, but apparently I missed some. Okay, a lot. What amused me wasn’t the fact that I had that many cards – the funny part was the name signed at the bottom of each card. These were girls who I used to be best friends with, or so I thought. Nowadays they wouldn’t talk to me if someone paid them, and, to be honest, I wouldn’t go out of my way to talk to them either. It’s funny how people can change so much in so few years. Hey, that’s puberty for you. But it wasn’t all bad. I found a card from my best friend who moved here from South Korea in the fifth grade. The note made me smile – she had written it right after coming here, when she only knew how to say a few things in English and was just hoping for a friend. I’ve pulled the letter out a few times since, just because it reminds me that there are genuinely kind people out there, if you’re willing to look hard enough.
Third: art supplies. I guess when I was little I was convinced that if I just tried hard enough I would magically turn into the next Picasso and be some sort of splendiferous child prodigy, traveling across the world and earning obscene amounts of money while people regularly discussed my genius. Ha. I know better now.
Fourth: books. I’m going to be honest, I didn’t throw any of these away, but I have a feeling you can all understand that.
Fifth: McDonald’s toys. I’m not kidding. You don’t even want to know.
I found a lot more than just those five, things I could probably write another six or seven page-long blog post about if I were to have the time or the motivation, but those were what really made an impression on me. Going through half a childhood’s worth of accumulated crap made me realize that there are a lot of things I’ve wasted my time on a lot of things over the years, made a lot of mistakes, and had a lot of regrets. But there were a few things that reminded me why I keep trying, like my friends. I don’t deserve how amazing they are, but I know I am going to continue to try to show them the kindness and love they have showed to me. While I may never be able to do for them what they have done for me, I can only hope that one day something I have done will make a difference.
Note to reader: Dang this post was long. Sorry about that. If you were looking for something funny, I’m sorry. I’m not myself tonight, and Not Myself isn’t very hilarious - in fact, she tends to be overly reflective and mopey, which is what leads to self-indulgent blogging like this. I’ll try again tomorrow night, after I’ve gotten some sleep. In the meantime, if you want some giggles read this or maybe this. They always make me smile.
If that doesn’t work to make you laugh, this picture should: