How Redecorating My Teenage Bedroom for an Online Semester Taught Me About Self-Love

"I think I'm crazy, honestly. It's like my brain knows that I'm an adult, and this living situation is temporary…" I struggled to articulate the grimy feeling I'd been experiencing since I moved back in with my parents due to the pandemic. "But, somehow, I keep feeling like I'm a teenager again." Just saying it invoked a full-body cringe from me, and I already wished I hadn't brought it up. I mean, what could anyone possibly say in response to that? "I don't know if that sounds silly, I'm just worried feeling like this will make things really difficult once my online classes start," I admitted. 

"Oh, that happens all the time," my therapist chuckled, "I'm almost fifty years old, and when I visit my parents, I feel like I'm a kid again." This was a session we had over the phone, as per the COVID-19 norm, but I'm certain he shrugged as he said it, like what he said wasn't going to single-handedly transform my experience living at home. "Have you tried redecorating the bedroom you're staying in? Our surroundings are really influentialthey not only affect how we feel but how we feel about ourselves."

The posters that had been up since high school were gone that afternoon.

And a Pinterest board was made at 2 a.m. that night.

I decided to pin down (yes, pun intended) the aesthetic I was going for before I even let myself get near an Ikea. It was a move distinctly different from how I spontaneously decorated the same room when I was a teenager when I would buy anything that caught my eye in the moment and throw it up on my walls without any regard for cohesion. Calling it eclectic would be giving my pubescent self way more credit than she deserves, honestly.  

I opted to go about choosing the room's style in a new way, too. Instead of decorating it to look like everything trendy I live for right now, aka effectively creating another time capsule I'd probably make fun of in five years, I pictured what my ideal adult home would look like if my ideal adult self lived there. It started off more abstract, but the more I thought about it, the more concrete the characteristics became. Ideal adult Francesca would be proud of enjoying the things she liked. She'd be serious about her career but also hold a lot of appreciation for the simpler, more mundane things in life. Ideal adult me would lead a more mindful lifestyle and partake in more self-love.

person holding book in a bath Photo by Taryn Elliott from Pexels Oddly enough, the ideal aesthetic came together in my mind while thinking about these things. To no one's surprise, it did end up being more practical to see what kinds of decor items would help me build my new vibe prior to going shopping because I was able to stay objective and not fall victim to impulse buying, which I admittedly do still struggle with despite being a certified adult. This strategy was a good start to rehabilitating not only my bedroom's image but my own image of myself. After leaving the fourth store empty-handed because they didn't have the perfect golden curtain rods I was after, I felt strangely empowered. Already, before any of the real changes, I felt more comfortable sleeping in my old bedroom.

Another cathartic change was setting up a professional desk space. I made a to-buy list of supplies I'd need to conquer online coursework and headed over to Target, where I shamelessly made some fun impulse buys, including a Lisa Frank notebook that is the light of my note-taking life. Don't get it twisted: I went in with a budget, and I stuck to it; I just also allowed myself to indulge and use up that budget instead of being needlessly stern about money I already planned on spending like I usually do (thank you, Latinx upbringing). By the time I'd gotten home and sorted out which cute binder was going to be home to which class's notes, I felt more confident than I had in weeks. In taking the time to organize, I wasn't just facing the reality that I was going to be taking an all-online semester; I was jumping into it. Though I hadn't been as committed to academia when I was in high school and sleeping in the same bedroom, the desk in front of me was a physical reminder of how much that has changed for the better. Maybe the girl I was in high school might've been overwhelmed by constant breakout rooms, but the adult I am today is too dedicated to let a few zoom meeting passwords get the best of her. 

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My walls ended up staying the same color I painted them in 2014, with the exception of the two accent walls I painted a deep green, a shade that has never been even in the top 15 of my favorite colors. Honestly, it still isn't, but curiously enough, it makes the room feel like it has space for me to grow in it, which is exactly what ideal-future-me is all about. Though, if we're being honest, I think somewhere along this room flipping adventure, I realized it's what current (trying to be her best self in a pandemic) me is all about, too. If you saw my walls, you'd see they're decorated strikingly akin to how they looked when I was a teenager, though now the cute, random pictures are in frames and are more artsy. In 2020, we're calling that kind of look maximalism, but the similarity isn't lost on me. In all actuality, I find it really amusing that ideal-adult-me's bedroom looks so similar to messy teenager me's room, and I'm choosing to interpret it in a way that's self-loving instead of mean. In my mind, my teenage self has been with me every step of this project, from wishing I felt more "adult" to confidently hanging up the pictures I like on my walls. A few weeks ago, I might've felt very different about this conclusion, but I've come to believe that we can change a lot throughout our lives while still carrying our past selves with us for the rideand there's nothing wrong with that. Our teenage selves, as illogical and immature as they might've been, are parts of us that we should treat with compassion instead of trying to drown them behind layers of paint. 

 

Sure, she could've been a little more organizedbut I learned that skill along the way, and without her, I'd be down one glittery notebook.