Neat freak? Not me

Woman's messy room

A young woman sitting on couch in messy room surrounded by lots of clothes.

Photo credit: Pool | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • I used to think; there must be a secret school to learn all of this because I am clean but not neat.
  • I used to think that some of us creative messes were badly raised and could not qualify for wife material.

From way back in high school, Nkiro, as we called her, was so neat and extra organised that the school matron always used her as the SI unit - to assess the rest of us.

Nkiro smelled nice, even after a cross country run. Doing a 10 kilometre race up the hills and through the farms left many of us in need of a dip in an antiseptic pool.

“Take time to shower. Wash under your armpits, between your ears…” the flustered matron used to tell us.

“Look at Nkiro, even her toe nails are trim, neat and clean.”

Few girls ever achieved that level of neatness. We came close, but it seemed such an effort, yet Nkiro was immaculate both in the dorm and in class. Even the dust seemed to be afraid of settling on her white socks. 

Now as an adult, I have come across people as organised as Nkiro. I am sure you have too, that is, if you are not one of them. There are those guys whose desks are so neat that when you take a selfie, you do it there, knowing very well that yours looks like a scene from a mini hurricane.

Ever been to a home that has toddlers and teenagers but the house looks like a picture out of that Facebook page Home Beautiful? 

Badly raised? 

Now imagine waking up every day of your married life to find your clothes for the day neatly spread out for you, including the socks. The meal plans in point, the cutlery and dishes selected with a keen eye. Everything coordinated; clearly, every detail taken into account.

I used to think; there must be a secret school to learn all of this because I am clean but not neat.

It takes the periodic spring cleaning to get my creative mess into what the conscientious people call minimalistic.

I used to think that some of us creative messes were badly raised and could not qualify for wife material, because, it is assumed that women are neat freaks and the men are hopelessly messy.

Keeping a close to perfect house, changing beddings daily, colour coordinating clothes in the closet is not a walk in the park for some of us. Don’t tell me you have not tried time and again and wondered why you cannot sustain it.

Worry no more.

It was a relief to learn that conscientiousness is a personality type. If your spouse’s personality dimension falls under conscientiousness, like mine does, you will have unique conflict.

These guys take time to schedule stuff, are extra mindful of time management and deadlines and - worst of all - are super detail oriented. Chances are, you are impulsive and schedules and details bore you.

Twitch of envy

In this pandemic season, both our businesses were greatly affected and we closed our respective offices, bringing home those office cabinets with essential items.

I opened his cabinet the other day and could not help but stare in awe and a twitch of envy. Each drawer was neatly arranged, with pens still in their respective boxes, files labelled, staplers and pins lined up.

My cabinet is - how do I put it - a nightmare of a mess, with items still in those old plastic bags that the National Environment Management Authority banned. Yet (and this is important), I still will get you my birth certificate in thirty seconds, something he does not understand.

Hubby keeps all the important documents or items, because he assumes that they will get lost if they remain with me. I remember him looking worried when a document that is not in digital format was required for a project.

I closed my eyes for a few seconds and promptly recalled where I last stored it. In the middle of Anna Karenina, one of my favourite hardcover books, up in the box atop the closet.

We have had fights when he tries to arrange my stuff. 

“Why don’t you just file these?” he will ask me. 

“I will get round to it.”

“You said that last month. I have some files…”

“Hey, just leave them. I don’t need them filed.”

Conscientious people are obsessed with structure and organisation. In their computers, folders are labelled, the desktop clear of clutter.

Of course, we can learn a thing or two when we are done envying their tenacity for minimalism.

But how boring life would be without the creative messes, the extraverts of the world?

Karimi is a wife who believes in marriage. karimigatimi@yahoo.com 

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