Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

The Life-Changing Magic of Being Messy

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Nanyang Tech chapter.

Recently, Marie Kondo, a famous organising consultant, made an honest and brave confession that her house is now ‘messy’ after 3 kids. It raised an uproar on social media: some felt cheated, while others basked in her ‘misfortune’. Many also seemed to be relieved that they could make an example out of her, that if she gives up, then they give up too. Yet, I believe most seem to miss the point. As someone who has dedicated many hours of her life to the KonMari method, I can testify how helpful her philosophy is for cleaning and organising. Cleaning is unavoidable as things are bound to get messy. In the face of the inevitable chaos that comes with life, tidying up is an essential skill to have, in not just your home, but also in every area of your life. The lesson to be learnt here isn’t about giving up, but about balance.

Kondo has always been fixated on happiness: she frequently asks her clients if their possessions “spark joy”. So, when do we transition from the joy of tidying up to the joy of letting things go? It is when we realise that we have been chasing perfection, rather than working on progress for far too long. Towards the later half of the semester when assignments pile up and work quality often dips, I have been coping through obsessing over the state of my room. I have learnt that this urge is just a sign that I feel out of control when things aren’t perfect. It reveals my struggle in adjusting to my circumstances. With that, Kondo teaches us something new: instead of rushing to where we need to be or wondering why we’re not there yet, we can slow down and delight in the imperfections of the present. We don’t stop trying, but we start appreciating the process over the outcome. There is still joy to be found here. It is a new calm we can offer to ourselves amidst the old storm.

In fact, the sooner that we accept mess as a natural part of life, the less likely we are to stress over unrealistic expectations and start making bigger strides towards our future. Research shows that messier people are usually more creative. Many of the most successful entrepreneurs or artists are notorious for being messy. New York Times bestselling author, Austin Kleon explains it best: “new ideas are formed by interesting juxtapositions, and interesting juxtapositions happen when things are out of place”. Creativity doesn’t come from doing things like everyone else all the time. It usually strikes when you are free to experiment boldly and spontaneously. Furthermore, undisturbed by their environment, messier people might have a better sense of priorities and can easily get in the flow of work anywhere and anytime. Essentially, without perfectionist tendencies, they save a lot more time and energy. Ironically, messier people do practise organisation in the way they devote themselves to what really matters. It all boils down to balance.

Lastly, here’s a quote that always reminds me to be mindful in these situations: “We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting all this happen”. When you allow space to fill up, you make more room for yourself. Embracing mess goes into embracing yourself, at every stage of your life.

Gredel Teo

Nanyang Tech '25

Y2 English and Communication Studies major Email: gredelteo@gmail.com IG: @gredelteo