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We’re All A Little Messier Than You Think

Updated: Jan 16

written by Libby Sullivan, KMA Team Member

Think back to your first job. (For me, it was food service.)

Do you remember what it was like to start that new job and suddenly gain this deeper sense of awareness? Like you suddenly understood why some baristas are so cranky, or why some drive-thrus take so long? You saw things differently because now you knew what was going on behind the scenes. And from then on, you empathized with that barista, and you grew more patient while waiting for your food.

When you work as a professional organizer, something similar happens to you.

One of my first clients was a young couple with three children, full-time jobs, and a very large house. The wife was very composed and articulate when she gave me a call, and when I first arrived at their home, I was delighted. The house was tall and lovely, a well-kept lawn, and trees surrounding it. The street view depicted the ideal New England home.

The inside was anything but.

Three loads of laundry cascaded down the stairs. The kitchen sink was nowhere to be seen, obscured by stacks of dishes. Not a single bed was made, and the mudroom was more mud than room. Everywhere I turned, there was chaos.

Now, to some, this might sound like a terrifying position to be in. But I’m the special kind of crazy that sees a situation like this the same way Charlie saw Willy Wonka’s factory. (Needless to say, I’m in the right line of work.)

But my point in sharing that visual with you is to illustrate that the outside of that house in no way represented the turmoil within. To an onlooker, that family was living a picture-perfect life, but in truth— as the clients themselves put it— they were drowning.

Now let me ask you: when you drive down your street, what do you see? More importantly, what do you assume? Do you assume your neighbors’ beds are made? That their laundry is folded and tucked neatly in cabinets? Does your mind wander to the mess of papers on your desk or your closet that’s too full to shut? Do you feel bad about yourself based on the imagined tidiness of someone else’s life?

I’ve worked with people of all backgrounds— single parents, working families, students, retires, business owners— and they all shared one thing in common: a well-kept lawn. I don’t put much stock in curb appeal nowadays. And I’m here to tell you, neither should you.

We are often so quick to rob ourselves of confidence and happiness because we choose to believe everyone is doing “better” than we are. We magnify our shortcomings while glorifying the lifestyle of others, even when we don’t truly understand who we’re comparing ourselves to. And we forget that the only true competition we have is ourselves and our pursuit of progress, not perfection.

Our goal shouldn’t be to present a well-manicured shell. It should be to achieve true peace.

That client has become one of my all-time favorites, not just because of the magnitude of the project, but also because of what working with them has taught me. And since that first day, we have transformed their house into a functional, peaceful home that looks just as good on the inside as it does on the outside.

Being a professional organizer has gifted me with a perspective of patience and compassion that only comes from meeting people where they’re at. It has helped me understand the difficulty of balancing responsibilities, passions, and wellness, and it has reaffirmed how impactful my line of work truly is. It’s about so much more than labels or drawer inserts. It’s about helping people reclaim their lives.

And if you ever feel ashamed or embarrassed by the state of your home, please remember: a street view is only a fraction of reality. We are all a little messier than you assume.


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