Girl Talk: On Being A Slob

My name is Winona and I am a slob.

Growing up, my mom affectionately referred to my bedroom as “the pig sty,” and rightfully so: the clothing, books, art supplies and cereal bowls that covered the floor would often reach knee-height before I felt the urge to tidy up a bit. At some point my brothers began gathering up the trash from their cars and setting it my room instead of putting it in the garbage. Months would pass before I found the bags of Slurpee cups and cracked Green Day CDs.

When I moved into my college dorm, my roommate was also a slob, and within months the trek from our doorway to our beds had become eerily reminiscent of the scene in “Star Wars” where Luke Skywalker falls into the Death Star’s garbage compactor.

I believed I was flouting gender roles and societal expectations by refusing to do the dishes.

There are a few variables that contribute to my slovenly ways. I’m easily distracted, impossibly disorganized, and I have a pretty high tolerance for chaos and clutter. Sure, I get stressed out about messes, but it doesn’t really bother me until it’s reached a point where even one of the people on “Hoarders” would be like, “Dude, ever heard of a file cabinet?”

And there’s something else that influenced my behavior for many years: being a slob made me feel rebellious. Men are expected to be messy and unpredictable. Women are expected to clean up after them. I saw so many women in my life spend their time and energy cleaning up after their husbands and boyfriends; I swore to myself that I would never let that happen in my own relationship. When I moved in with my boyfriend,

I believed I was flouting gender roles and societal expectations by refusing to do the dishes.

This wasn’t the root cause of my messy habits, of course, but it’s a big reason why I didn’t work on them for so long. It took me awhile to realize that my boyfriend wasn’t asking me to vacuum the living room because I am a woman. He was asking me to do it because I am his partner, and he did it last week.

Once I’d decided to try my hand at cleaning, the question was how. My attempts at tidying up usually involved me burying myself in a pile of paper and knick-knacks and having a panic attack, so I called in reinforcements. I had my friend Katelyn come over and give me organizing workshops. I quizzed my neat freak friends about what it took to maintain such a strange and foreign lifestyle. I read a thousand housekeeping tips online. I bought cleaning supplies in bright colors to make the task seem fun. (Spoiler alert: it’s never fun.)

Slowly but surely, I’m learning. Last week, for example, I cleaned the bathroom. Like, really cleaned it. I scrubbed the floors and the tub, replaced the shower curtain, shined the mirror, and rearranged the medicine cabinet. I did it all of my own accord, and I never thought I’d say this, but it felt good.

Are you a slob or a neat freak or somewhere in between? Does it affect your relationship?

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