Why I Clean

Marina - Los Angeles, California
Entered on August 15, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
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When I was a little girl, I would throw my toys around the room, empty my clothing drawers onto the floor, and take every item off my shelves – just so that I could put everything back in its right place. On extreme days, I would do a “spring cleaning” for my entire Barbie house. I’d even wash my dolls’ clothes and rearrange their furniture. I hardly recall just playing with Barbie & Ken like a typical girl my age. From as far back as I can remember, everything around me had to be clean, tidy, and organized or else I just didn’t feel right. As a child, I believed that if my surroundings were together then my mind would be too; this naïve yet profound belief has taken me on a life-long quest for perfection in every inter-connected aspect of my adult life.

Now, as an adult, I can honestly say that when I straighten up my home or classroom, I still feel as if I am getting closer to a physical as well as an emotional excellence. If I am depressed, lonely, anxious, or any other detrimental emotion, I clean to heal myself: I fix what’s broken, dust what’s neglected, vacuum what doesn’t belong, plan what’s tentative, and go on with my day. Rejuvenated. Ready. Empowered. I consider myself lucky to have such a beneficial routine, unlike those who abuse or poison their bodies to deal with their issues. All I need is a broom and some labels. Those are my drugs.

Of course, I know that cleaning, organizing, tidying cannot make me truly happy, cannot cure all my woes or perfect my life. I understand that one cannot instantly wash away pain or mop away sadness. But, taking care of my home and responsibilities does reduce my stress and discomfort, making life significantly easier to enjoy. I have always believed that my physical environment affects my body, mind, and soul. So, why not strive for the neatest place possible? Why not take my mind off what’s wrong and focus on what I can make right? Why not believe that one can wipe away the germs from one’s floor and one’s mind?