Never underestimate the power of change. Even simple change. Sometimes a mere change in your surroundings, life, or mindset can have immense benefits.
I have held off talking about this particular topic for a while now. My dad and brother are probably sick and tired of my constant updates about my situation, but admittedly, my mind is overly nit-picky. I have certain (probably unreasonable) standards for myself, and usually the most insignificant of details is what grinds my gears.
This school year, I’m living in an apartment off-campus with one roommate, a roommate who happens to be an ex. Which, right off the bat, people probably are already pointing out an obvious problem here, but that’s not even a big deal in the grand scheme of things.
I established early on that I wanted distinctly separate spaces for each of us. I see my home as a sanctuary away from the stress of the outside world (if that means I have some hermit tendencies, well, so be it). Only for certain people and in certain moods am I willing to sacrifice my space and standards of living (again, selfish? Probably. I’m just way too picky for my own good).
How the apartment is laid out, you walk into a living room/kitchen space, go down the hall to a bathroom and bedroom, and a large back room finishes it off. My roommate took the back room, and I had a desk set up in the living area. We each had a twin bed in the bedroom and we obviously both use the bathroom.
I never actually realized it as I went about my day, but I essentially was never truly alone. Since my desk (the spot I am at 98% of the time) is the living area, I was always subject to hearing whatever was going on in the back room as well as being around him if he was in the kitchen or going out the front door. This also meant I knew when the kitchen and front door were being used and essentially would need some cleaning, making me paranoid of whatever mess might be left over and being generally on edge 24/7.
In complete honesty, the last few weeks, I have been at one of my deepest depressions in a long time. Just really not in a good head space. Every single aspect of life left me overwhelmed and yet I had zero motivation to do anything. The bare minimum in class, even if that meant putting off my own health, was all I could muster.
And yes, I’m still working through that phase right now in hopes that I can see a light at the end of the tunnel, but last weekend, some magic happened. Magic in the form of a roommate’s idea and a mother’s words. First, when coming back between class and work on Friday, I was taken aback to see my roommate’s bed no longer in the bedroom. He then told me that he realized that I truly have never had any privacy in the apartment, figuring that moving himself completely to the back room might help. Also, when I was at work, my parents came down to the apartment to puppy-sit, and my mom (aka my savior) was really honest with my roommate in my fragile state and some of the little things I’ve confided in my family but haven’t explicitly detailed to the roommate (confrontation is not my strong suit).
After some serious self-care (which looked like washing my face and showering after not doing so all week), I walked into the bedroom, closed the door, and I don’t know what it was, but I immediately felt a difference. I relaxed for the first time in what felt like months. I hadn’t actually talked to my roommate since moving in, and we actually had conversations. I actually slept in later than 5 AM and felt more rested and not like a zombie. My creative mind felt like it was waking up from a long hibernation.
We introverts truly, desperately need alone time to fully recharge. Regardless of your temperament, we all need an environment that supports our well-being. In my case, that means having a room where I can close a door and be in my own space, a space where I’m not constantly spinning around worries about how clean the kitchen is or being aggravated by any minute behavior of my roommate differing from my own preferences.
Don’t underestimate how your environment affects you. If you’re in a space that drains you, constantly around others that don’t benefit your mind, it’s time to change things up. Maybe you’re somewhere that doesn’t allow for much dramatic change, but even simply adding some fun decor or going to a place away from home that can provide you with peace can really help. And, most importantly, self-care all the way. Do the little things that make you happy, in a space that supports your motivation and productivity. A change of scenery can be the push you need to reevaluate your attitude and mindset to better reflect how you truly want to feel.
Where is your “happy place”? What elements in that space make it your sanctuary to recharge and ground yourself? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie