I remember, during freshman year, looking with a bit of excitement and a lot of anxiety at the walls and empty surfaces of my dorm room as if they were blank canvases.

It was an unprecedented opportunity to start fresh. With a couple of items and a decent idea, I could set up this whole new aesthetic for myself and my life. All I had to do was go out into the world and find the posters and accessories I wanted. I put considerable effort into finding items I liked and building my room into a place I could call home. But I always felt — and still feel — like there’s something missing.

I realized this feeling is what drives people to constantly be working on something in their  home, or to buy new furniture, paintings, or flower arrangements randomly. It’s what drives them to hire expensive home decorators or buy a grand piano when all they know how to play is “Chopsticks.”

Reader, this week we’re going to talk about interior design — well more like interior design lite, since I am no expert on this subject.

Interior design is what makes a house or an apartment a home. It’s the personal flavors and preferences of whoever is living there. And because of that, it serves as an extension of how we choose to show ourselves to the world. My room featured a lot of bright colors and decorations centered around nature — I like to think it showed the side of me that loves the outdoors. (Even though, reader, I don’t have much time these days to be outdoors.) And while it is an opportunity for us to express ourselves, it can also become an reflection of our own insecurities.

Why am I always feeling like I could do more, or that my room could be a bit more organized, or just a little bit better? Why am I never satisfied with the way it looks? Why am I a little embarrassed when people come into my room and observe what I think are half-done decorations? It’s because my room is so closely tied with how I like to present myself. It’s no different than the clothes I wear everyday.

It also can be a show of wealth or life experiences. I’ve been in homes littered with random baubles from around the world, each with their own anecdote on how amazing that specific trip was. Or homes with cherry wood kitchens, granite countertops, and handmade Egyptian rugs that all seem to scream, “I make a lot of money,” I’ve also been in homes overrun with toys, school materials, and pastel colored mini furniture, obviously hinting that there’s a small child nearby.

I feel like we can all take a good look at how we decorate our rooms and homes. There’s insights about ourselves there that are useful, and you’ll either be pleased, or find something to change. It can be the first step you take to start your own transformation, or it can be a comforting affirmation of your own self-confidence. Maybe you’ll find the energy to experiment with new looks — who knows! And, reader, keep in mind what I find most important about how we present ourselves to others — in the end, the only person that matters is you. Show what you want to show, and if people take it the wrong way, who cares? What’s important is what those items or posters mean to you. Maybe you’ll share why you like them, or maybe it’s a closely held secret. Either way, how you decorate your room, what you were, or even what you do is only in service to yourself.

My room is currently as barren as the Sahara Desert. There’s no posters on the walls, no cute baubles on my desk. I recently moved, reader, so I haven’t had the time to put anything up. But, now I think I’ll let my room lay blank until I have a strong feeling and see that through. Until then, my walls will resemble the ones I was so anxious about during those first days of freshman year.

Tagged: Not Vanilla

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