Keep Your Self-Critical Mouth Shut

Today’s post is mostly an admonition to myself after I realized something I do pretty regularly. The title really says it all, but I’ll elaborate. It wouldn’t be much of a blog post if I didn’t!

See, I recently moved and I’ve been really trying to make this new apartment seem more like “home” and less like someplace I’m going to watch TV and sleep until my lease runs out. There are so many things I love about this unique apartment, and with a great landlord and a fabulous friend living in the same building, it really is a joy to live here. I have loved many apartments I’ve had over the years, but this is by far the best place I’ve ever had to myself.

So, after a couple years living in a comfortable but minimalistic place without a single knick-knack or decoration besides some pictures on the walls, I decided to buckle down, think through some decorative choices, invest in some bookshelves and furniture, and assert a little more of myself into the space. A few trips to IKEA and some relatively painless building time, I had myself a nice TV stand and a little set of shelves – some of which we put some glass doors on to make them “classy” – and I opened the long-packed boxes of books and random treasures and started to find them new homes in my new place.

I’m sure you’re wondering where the “shut up” part of this story comes, since all I’ve done is gush about how much I love my apartment so far. Well, it comes next when the occasion came along for a couple friends and I to meet to discuss a project we’re taking on and I thought it would be fun to host the meeting so I could show them my new place.

Perfectly Fine Imperfect Shelves

As I busied myself around the apartment before them came over, cleaning the sinks, shuffling things around the shelves, folding blankets, etc, I caught myself pre-emptively making excuses for the things I didn’t quite think were “right” yet. Serious thoughts came into my head like, “Oh, I can just tell them that the junk on the bottom shelves still needs to be sorted”…”I can mention how I think I probably need new sheets to match the new bedroom”…”I can point out the dust on the windowsills I didn’t clean yet and comment about how gross I am”…Wait, what?! *cue record screeching halt*

STOP.

STOP STOP STOP.

Here I am in a place that is not perfect, but that I still love and am proud of. Why on earth would I point out its flaws when I can share the things I truly love? Why criticize myself when I instead can take a little bit of pride in what I’ve put together? Will my friends notice the random un-done stuff? Maybe. Will they care? I truly doubt it. Does it matter? No. Right then and there I decided to not voice a single one of those thoughts.

Bathroom

Bathroom Peacocks. For reals.

When my friends showed up, I showed them the new shelves, and the peacocks on the bathroom walls (true story), and the washer and dryer (YOU GUYS. I have a washer and dryer!!), and I kept my mouth shut about the flaws. I shared my vision for things I didn’t have yet, but didn’t make excuses for not having them. They ooh-ed and ahh-ed and shared my excitement; I felt better about not tearing myself down. I consider that a win.

Even now, I still have sorting and arranging to do. I have bedroom furniture to buy. But I also have a great place to kick up my feet and enjoy, and now it even comes with a little bit of positive self-awareness. If you visit, there might be dusty windowsills or a dirty kitchen floor or a haphazard pile of sheet music on my book shelf, but I’m gonna do my best not to point them out to you.

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2 thoughts on “Keep Your Self-Critical Mouth Shut

  1. I absolutely love this post. I typically avoid having people over, and when I do, I make excuses the entire time. I’m so worried they’ll think I’m a slob, when the truth is that I work full time, and when I’m not working, I’m trying to play with my dog or exercise or work in my writing projects, so a lot of the time dishes don’t get done right away or certain bookshelves hardly ever get dusted. I’m not a slob — I’m just doing my best to prioritize a list of tasks that no one could possibly fit into a 40 hour work week. Haha this is such a long comment. Obviously you hit a nerve with this one!

    • Hey Mika, Totally thought I responded to your comment the day you posted it, guess not! I hear you on how hard it is to get everything done to “standard” when you have so many standards – personal, professional, and cultural – to meet. For what it’s worth, I’ve always found your house to be perfectly presentable and comfortable and I really enjoy visiting you there!

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