Here at Preen, we’re fully aware that adult life doesn’t always go as smoothly (and look as beautiful) as curated Instagram feeds. We all face challenges amidst all the good things. Meet Mikka Wee, a former food editor-turned-working gal in Singapore, who’s about to share all the ups and downs that come with adulting and living. Welcome to Bless This Mess!
When the going gets tough, when people get on our nerves, and when all we want to do is scream and press the “Eject” button, we normally find ourselves making some hasty and careless decisions.
I used to do a lot of “retail therapy” (shopping for clothes I hardly ended up wearing), “travel therapy” (booking a ticket and just leaving because I’m young and wild and free), and even “food therapy” (indulging myself with a luxurious meal or a lofty buffet). Why? Because I felt I freaking deserved it!
I felt very self-entitled to treat myself so often because I saw these impulsive purchases as rewards that I soooo deserved for all my hard work. I was under a lot of stress—work hard, play hard, right? WRONG! This pressing need to constantly “treat myself” in order to cope with the perils of adulthood ended in embarrassment when I couldn’t pay for a Forever 21 shirt that was on sale for only P250—because I had P120 left in my bank account. Woops. I felt really pathetic, so I sought some advice on how to regain my balance and feel good—without having to make an extravagant purchase.
1. Try Kondo-fying your life
One day, I spontaneously picked up Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, breezed through a few chapters, and decided to just do it. So, I bought a pack of 10 XL-sized garbage bags and started tossing out things that simply “did not serve me any longer.” I didn’t realize how much useless junk I’ve had lying around in my room for years. I ended up throwing out a total of 14 XL garbage bags, getting a huge lecture from my mother, and treating myself to some ice-cold soda after.
It made me realize how material things carry a fleeting amount of satisfaction, but going beyond the “magical transformation” of my room (a.k.a. purging), it was also an exercise on knowing what to let go of and what to keep—literally and figuratively.
2. Transform your room into your altar
After I Kondo-fied my room, I was amazed at how little I really needed. There was so much space—and it was my personal space. So I went to the department store (don’t worry, I didn’t go on a shopping spree to fill the empty gaps of my drawers and closets), and bought a lamp that exuded a warm glow, new bedcovers, and an oil burner.
I wanted to turn my room into a refuge where I could release my stress and be at ease in. The clutter and chaos that preceded it was subconsciously adding to my stress, I realized. But coming home to a room that helped me relax made sleeping and waking up so much easier. I would normally have acid refluxes and anxiety-related tummy problems, so shifting things around and making my room more “me” helped alleviate my uneasiness.
If oil burners aren’t your thing, then do what you need to make your room feel like an oasis—if you think you need a map of the world tacked in front of your bed, then do it! I wanted space that provided warmth and coziness; sort of like a nice embrace after a crazy day.
3. If you’re open to it, try meditating
I say this with a disclaimer because I know meditation does not work for everyone. I have a mild case of ADHD, so you can imagine how challenging it is for me to sit still for even just three minutes! I still struggle a lot, but what helped me to really get into it and gain some relaxation and focus was yoga. I also downloaded a bunch of apps that helped sync my breathing with some meditation music and guided cues.
If meditation absolutely does not work for you, then do an activity that calms your mind. I was addicted to those “mindful” coloring books at one point. I know a lot of people who turn to running and some just rest it off.
Go ahead and explore what makes you detach and reconnect more with yourself—it may even be as simple as putting your phone away and heading out for a walk (I find this to be extremely therapeutic most of the time). Sometimes, the exhaustion could also be brought about our gadgets and social media, so taking a break from them may just be what you need. I like going on airplane mode during weekends and cozying up with a book—try it; it works wonders.
4. Find your happy place
E. E. Cummings once wrote, “For whatever it (like a you or a me), it’s always ourselves we find in the sea” in his poem Maggie and Milly and Molly and May. And while this is the line most people seem to remember (but trust me, read the entire poem—it’s short, but it’s magic), I must admit that it is my favorite line, too. It was through this poem that I got the idea of literally going to the sea to “find myself” again whenever I felt disarrayed.
I would plan some weekends to take time off, catch a bus to the beach, and spend a few days there swimming and chilling by the shore. Saltwater also has so many good and soothing benefits that can ease the soul, and I really enjoyed wading under the sun. In the city, my happy place would be in a quiet café where I could write in my journal, or a bookstore where I could just hide behind the shelves and read quietly. Find a place where you can catch your breath, even if it’s just at the park behind your office.
5. Get into a routine that makes your soul feel good
I started doing “Morning Pages,” which is a writing exercise I do as soon as I wake up. I dedicated a notebook for this, and the first thing I do each morning is empty my unfiltered thoughts (it even could be about how lazy I am to write because I’m still sleepy) onto a page before I start my day.
Leo Babauta of Zen Habits said that the first hour of your day is the most important one, and it is the best hour for you to do something that makes your soul feel good. Whether it’s taking a light jog, doing a few yoga poses, preparing coffee or tea (this can also be really meditative), or writing, it’s always great to wake up and get yourself into the groove by doing something that uplifts you.
Every now and then I still treat myself to a nice sweater or a delicious sushi dinner, but I’ve been training myself to think before I make a purchase. “Is this something I really need?” Or “Am I just buying this because I feel I deserve it because I’m stressed?” It’s not as easy as it sounds, but turning away from the retail route can sometimes lead you to a better understanding of yourself and what it is your soul truly needs.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Preen.ph, or any other entity of the Inquirer Group of Companies.
Art by Lara Intong