Clean kitchen counters devoid of anything except an espresso machine. Bookshelves with color-coded rows of neatly aligned books. Nightstands with nothing but a novel and a glass of water.
Absolutely none of these scenes can be found in my apartment. They can, however, be found in the homes of my coworkers, a fact I now know thanks to daily video calls that allow me to get a closer look at their hyper-organized minimalist decor. Which, if I’m being totally honest, is an aesthetic I’ll never achieve.
Having been in my current apartment for just over a year, I’ve managed to settle into my cluttered but colorful surroundings and I feel pretty darn good about them. Or at least I used to feel good about them, until mandatory work from home was put into place. Now, I find myself constantly hopping on video calls and therefore being subjected to one editor’s sleek little desk adorned with a single vase of green fronds, another’s gorgeous vintage subway map perfectly aligned with her delicate French molding and yet another coworker’s tidy kitchen counters on which I can spy nothing but a blue KitchenAid mixer and a matching coffee maker. As such, I’ve rediscovered my deep desire to hide everything I own in cabinets and closets. But it’s not a totally novel emotion; with each attempt to squirrel away a stack of books, I’m hit with a pang of sadness when I remember, I’ve tried this before and it just isn’t me.
I recognize that I’m only seeing a sliver of my coworkers’ homes and I shouldn’t pit my overstuffed hall closet against their bare kitchen table, but that’s easier said than done. It’s much the same as comparing yourself to people on Instagram. You see what they want you to see, which hardly ever includes the general mess outside the frame. And I would do well to acknowledge that my desk space back in our office may have eight water bottles and three vases of dead dried flowers, but just across the way is one that’s boxed in with books and another featuring a cluster of lively potted vines. Perhaps my coworkers find they now require a clean, clear workspace in order to effectively WFH during the coronavirus. Or maybe their very own pile of magazines is actually sitting underneath their computer during a Zoom call. Or they really are living that beautifully simple minimalist life that’s always just out of my reach.