Claire Dwyer PO ’20
Sept. 26, Vol. XXIX, Issue 1
When I started my first year of college, I never really bought dorm decorations. It just
seemed a bit silly to me. I very much enjoyed seeing the little havens everyone else made for
themselves: I found the coordination impressive, the perfectly placed stuffed animals charming,
the strings of pictures on the wall to contain just the appropriate amount of nostalgia. But here
I am, a senior, still never having even made the smallest attempt to make my room look like
anything remotely “cool.” Of course, paintings of medieval saints slaying dragons are cool to
me, as is my little bandana that says Pomona College from that one time I volunteered on an
admitted students’ day. So are the scattered random post cards that are pasted in various
places on the wall, the medieval Iberian camel painting, the Pomona calendar with all my
appointments and homework furiously scribbled all over it in my mostly illegible handwriting. I
suppose the part of my current dorm “decorations” of which I am most proud is the sizable
percentage of the books I managed to transport from home. It looks like a messy little library.
My room, in all its chaos, makes me proud every time I set foot inside it. I have worked
hard to get to where I am today. I’ve learned a few languages since starting college. I am in the
process of applying to graduate school in medieval history. I have thrown myself into my work.
And sometimes, there’s a half-eaten bag of chips still on the ground when I get back from class.
In my first years of college, that sort of thing would have made me feel bad. Why is my room so
messy when all of my friends have perfect strings of lights across their windows, large
tapestries and a kind of magical ability to keep their rooms always smelling nice? I questioned
myself about it a lot until I realized—potato chips on the ground? You can be proud of them.
They symbolize the fact that you motivated yourself to go above and beyond in finishing your
work last night…and you did! They symbolize the strength that you embody every day, in
studying, in working hard, in showing up to class and managing to never take yourself too
We as students can take joy in our mess. We do not always have dorm rooms that look
as Pottery Barn intended–for whatever reason, whatever challenge we are facing in our lives
that makes keeping a perfect room an insurmountable difficulty. We are not all Good
Housekeeping ready. And that’s okay.
Image Credit: The Daily Illini