So I’ve talked a lot about myself on this here website. By this point in our journey, regular The Gloss readers know about my life as a 19-year-old nude model, my sensitive vagina, my struggles with social interaction, and even a bit about my horrible foot secret. But one topic I’ve been too ashamed to crack thus far is my tendency towards messiness and hoarding. It’s embarrassing! Then again, I’m guessing some of you are in the same boat as me, so I think it’s time to talk about it. And by “it,” I mean my compulsion to build nests out of dirty laundry.

Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve been a really, really, really messy person. I’m pretty good about common spaces (I’m not a monster) but when it comes to my own personal living space, there are clothes, books, and various other items covering at least half the floor at any given time. I’m not living in squalor, mind you; there are no dirty dishes or science experiments lying around. But my messiness does make it tougher to sweep, so my room has a higher population of dust bunnies than it probably should.

The above photo is what my room looks like right now, no cheating. I’ve actually been better lately (more on that later). I tend to use the side of the bed I don’t sleep on as a place to store clothes, which then get pushed onto the floor when my boyfriend comes over. Then back to the bed, then back to the floor, etc.

Here’s what it looks like if you’re sitting on my bed:

The green thing on the right is a bag of laundry, the black thing is a suitcase I have yet to fully unpack, and the white thing on the left is a bag of pillows that I bought a few days ago because my roommate told me any pillow that’s more than two years old is at least half composed of dead skin cells and dust mites. My pillows are all more than two years old. I’m still deciding which of them to get rid of.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve felt really bad for being this way. Like I’m either mentally deficient in some very specific way, or just really lazy. But I’m not lazy in other areas. I write seven blog posts a day, cook most of my meals from scratch, and ride my bicycle to run errands. I’m pretty sure there’s an area of the human brain that’s dedicated to wanting things to be orderly, and mine is simply defective or missing.

It’s not the mess that bothers me (if it bothered me, it wouldn’t be there), but the judgments it causes people to make about me. Are they right to judge me? Maybe I am a shitty, incompetent person because of the way my room looks. I mean, I hold a steady job, give money to charity, and carry on meaningful relationships with people, but there are undies on the floor and none of my socks match, so…wash?

It sounds silly, but these judgments have made me question my entire self-worth at times. Over the years, I’ve been told that I wouldn’t be able to think straight if my surroundings were chaotic (by my mom, who later admitted this only applied to her), that I wouldn’t have any friends (I do, we just tend to hang out in the living room), and that I wouldn’t be able to find anything I needed, ever. (I am actually very good at finding things! I mean, I have to be, but still.) One roommate even played on my fear of being alone forever by saying, “you know, Jamie, you’re never going to find a boyfriend with a room this messy. Guys are going to look at it and think you’re crazy.” He’s not my roommate anymore.

The turning point might have come when I met my current boyfriend. I tried to tidy up a bit before I brought him home for the first time, but my room still looked like my room. I was probably more nervous about that than letting him see me naked for the first time, and apologized profusely for my clutter, but he just shrugged and said he was messy too. (And yet, so together and sane!) When I saw his room, I found out he wasn’t lying. He’s not as messy as me, simply because he has fewer possessions to strew about, but he clearly has the same mental defect that I do. Like pigs in shit, we are in filthy, decadent, messy person love.

And as soon as I stopped having an inferiority complex about my messiness, do you know what happened? I got less messy. What do you know about that? I’m no shrink, but I’d venture to guess that by ceasing to beat myself up about this trait of mine, I’ve made whatever neurosis is causing it subside enough for me to actually improve my organizational skills. Gradually and without pressure. I’m never going to have the OCD tendencies of Jerry Seinfeld, but it’s gotten to the point where I’m just sort of “normal messy” and not “drowning in mountains of unused thrift store items” messy. Which is good enough for me. I’m finished apologizing for who I am, dammit. And if any of you reading this are feeling similar pangs of shame (not guilt, mind you, but socially imposed shame), I want you to stop it right now. Go on, forgive yourself for your disgusting habits. You may actually find yourself cleaner for it.