The Quality of Being Real: Owning Your Space

Mahalia O’Brien. Photography By Deun Ivory.

A slow hush has settled over me in this new season.

It has been my steady. My stay.

It’s been a year since I walked through a therapy session, yodeling to myself, “therapy is for crazy people, I don’t belong here!” But it was through therapy, that I found sanity - and the route to identity. As I began carving out who I was and how much power I inevitably had, I started tethering my character not to who or what culture/society mandates, but to what I could achieve by redefining my personal space.

My space, I learned inadvertently, is my wholeness, my extant, even to un-etched edges of my future. My character. My emotions. My space is my own, it expands beyond the square-shaped borders of my living room and its hominess. Beyond the corner lot of my home. Beyond walls and room definitions. Beyond the glossy imitations of our current reality. Although it consists of others, I can choose with whom I share this delicate part of myself. In other words, in owning my space, I’ve let go of pigeonholing, mistrust, and indifference and found the freedom to be the sole judge of definition.

I learned the most about myself here in a slower unfiltered way. I am at home, within myself, and have become intentional for the first time in a long time about self-definition. I’ve learned to land and peel back some layers to find the core of who I am and honor her with all the authenticity she deserves.

Some days, it’s still a fight to withstand replaying the events that invade the landscape of life without my permission. But what I’ve learned so far is that in becoming anyone authentic and genuine requires embracing the dark hues of life. The mess. The grit. Though this lesson hasn’t come easy, through it, I’ve found solidarity. And since I’m not absolute, there are a few eternal verities I consider sacred, and one of them is decluttering my space as often as possible.

While chiseling through the blurred lines, I found, my query isn’t a lack of passion, or a disdain for material duds; the bedrock of my life as a human being isn’t materialistic. The truth is, we own way too much stuff. I believe, if we desire to grow, says, the unrestrained Mark Manson, we must also have a growing appreciation for life’s basic expressions and experiences. He goes on to say that, “accepting your own mundane existence will actually free you to accomplish what you truly want to achieve with no judgments and no lofty expectations. You will learn to measure yourself through a new, healthier means.”

And since I refuse to haul the past around in a tote bag while trying to authenticate my current and future self, I found ways to declutter every sphere of my space and aura of respectability: I began by:

1.    Decluttering the Mind:

I set boundaries by a method of mental minimalism, paring my thoughts to the essentials of positivity was vital, I released the things that were beyond my control. I focused on the things that mattered most in my present circumstances. I wrote down achievable goals by weeks, months and year. Making time to rest was essential.

2.    Decluttering the Body:

I’m an avid runner. It wasn’t always so. I started with slow walks to running half marathons for the pleasure of it. Moving gets the body to release endorphins. So, one day I Just get up and moved. With more movement I became happier, I drank more water, which is really great for the brain especially as a thinker and writer, I slept a lot better as a result. Eating moderately healthy is also a large practice I endeavor to assimilate one meal at a time.

3.    Decluttering the Soul:

The soul consists of the will and emotions. Self-compassion is the greatest gift you can give yourself. When your feelings are free of judgment, you learn to track your emotional responses, you’re resolved to living your life and not the experiences of others. Kindness toward the self is also accepting the fact that you can’t have it all, and finding contentment with what you have. Weigh the motives behind wanting more.

4.    Decluttering your Space:

Perform an exorcism per se of your home by reorganizing. Begin room by room. In my experience, even clearing the junk drawer in the kitchen relieves stress. You don’t have to begin with a vast space, start small, make a list of things to donate or sell and save to your rainy day or vacation fund. Decluttering has been proven to reduce anxiety and boost creativity, so don’t deprive yourself of these essential benefits.

When I declutter literally, and figuratively I’m taking steps into a lifelong journey, I find I’m better armored to embrace the things about myself that are true, no matter how I'm perceived. I’m more open to inspiration and more apt to let go of negative emotions. I measure life not by how I’ve failed but by how I’ve had my own back, how I’ve bounced back. I take stock in how I handle ambiguity, and to always weigh myself by the metrics of authenticity I’ve chosen to live by.

When you own your space, your brilliance shines, and you thrive.

Mahalia O’Brien is a writer and creative living in the Palm Beach, FL area with her husband and children. She's certified speaker and coach, through The Les Brown Coaching and Certification Program, where she also worked as a content editor. When she’s not writing, Mahalia speaks and coaches other women in her community through Brawn and Grace, an organization she’s founded. Her lifelong dream is too equip women to be champions in their daily lives. She inspires to teach others how to listen to their own lives, to learn and grow from that place. You can follow Mahalia on instagram @dearesthali and Facebook @mahaliakobrien.