Nandi Cook-Creek is a Senior English major and Student Staff at the Women’s Center.
Content Note: I wrote this as an able-bodied, neurotypical person who lives in an urban area. To all who cannot relate to this, I mean to say that you are worthy of all the aspirations you have for yourself, however you arrive at them.
I need to admit something. As many times as I have made fun of my age-mates for “decorating” their living spaces with that one Pulp Fiction poster, or the Periodic Table of Marijuana, I have absolutely no idea what to do with my own home. Despite this, I find myself in possession of hundreds of square feet. Responsibility on this scale boggles my mind, but that’s not necessarily a new feeling. After all, the cozy-cute bachelorette pad in my mind is just another goal. Even when goals are very different from one another, I find that I take the same path to accomplishing them every time.
Being stuck in my home forces me to dream for it, and desire more out of it, so I am. Spending so much time with myself forces me to turn inward and create activities that I can really feel accomplished at the end of. So much of women’s achievement goes unnoticed and uncelebrated and under-valued. We see grandiose, man-centered narratives glorified in film, television, literature, and we internalize the feeling that our little lives are just that: little.
So, it’s important to assert that all the silly little bits and pieces of our lives matter. I believe that we can shift and re-organize our mindsets around celebration by setting up goals and intentions to knock them out. As an example, I’ll describe how I’ve been making myself take ownership of the house I have no idea what to do with.
How to Trick Yourself Into Thinking You’ve Remodeled Your Home: A Goal-Setting Guide From a Hermit
Step 1: Prep
The first concrete action I took was going to Home Depot with a very short list: boxes, furniture sliders, and colored light bulbs. I know nothing of home improvement so I found myself walking in circles and asking employees for, “th-the things that you- you put them under furniture to move it”, but the trip was still a small success at the beginning of a big project.
Staying stagnant for too long can feel like nothing you want to do matters. It’s hard to imagine new possibilities in the midst of your reality looking the same every day. To plan, to imagine, and to act on that imagination takes a kind of resolve. Oftentimes, the build-up and the first steps you take end up being enlightening and exciting, and it’s perfectly fine to just make up something to be excited about.
Step 2: Plan
I paced and paced and paced around an upstairs room for almost an hour, just thinking of a game plan for when I’d actually go in and get my hands dirty. In my case, I had to pack up my sister’s whole life to make room for mine, so when I had my route totally mapped out I told her about it. After all, she lives here too.
Telling people you trust about your goals establishes a sense of accountability. I don’t think most people are very fond of accountability, because it raises the stakes in a way. What if you fail? Someone will see! Wait though, because the secret, hidden side of accountability is that when people know what you want to do, then they know how to help you do it.
Step 3: Execute
I chose to dig in over the course of the weekend after my prep stage, the sooner the better. That Saturday I got up, ate breakfast, put on overalls (very capable clothing, for very capable girls), and I whipped myself into a packing frenzy for 7 hours. By night time I had hit a wall and couldn’t move another object, but I had done more than I even planned for in the best way possible.
Occasionally after planning, our goals can feel much too big and energy-consuming. That’s because they are when you’re just sitting there thinking about them. I really find myself comforted when I remember that objects at rest stay at rest, but when I get myself in motion I will keep going to a point where it makes sense to stop. It’s like thinking of yourself as a ball rolling down a hill, and being certain that you can trust yourself to build momentum, if nothing else.
Step 4: Enjoy!
At the end of my first day cleaning, when my sister came back all cavalry-like with packing tape and more boxes, she looked around and was taken aback by the change a few hours made. I was almost spent, but I felt a rising pride in my ability to change my surroundings, even just a small amount. Then, when I woke up on Sunday I felt energized to do it again.
Sitting down at the end of a day and just reflecting on all that you did is a good way of pouring back into yourself. It’s not always recognizable when we’ve been starved for acknowledgment and appreciation, until we finally start giving it to ourselves and we discover a trove of nice feelings that we couldn’t access before. When you’re ready to try something new or do even more, it’s so much easier to move from a place of appreciation and excitement.
Another fun term for this process is selfishness. This type of self-fulfilment, self-centering, and self-improvement is an impulse that marginalization shames out of us at a very young age. Regardless of our conditioning, here many of us are, stuck with our own company much more than we’d like. While we’re in this state I hope we can embrace that self-determination that allows us to explore ourselves in a way we’ve been denied for much too long.