For some time now, I have worked one-on-one with people who want to organize their homes. I call it “home curation.” This work is fascinating because it is designed to align the home with one’s concept of the self.
When the apartment or house does not “match” the internal sense of self, there is a daily conflict in life that can be exhausting. Bringing the home environment into accord with one’s inner being is a liberating, relieving experience. You simply remove things that you don’t need or want and organize everything maximally for both aesthetic enjoyment and utilitarian needs. Every person I have worked with has talked about feeling a true sense of liberation, joy, and relief when we were done even though the process itself can be grueling.
This practice of curating people’s homes in accordance with their inner wishes and desires resonates very much with the current craze to amplify one’s social media image. It is no longer the case that our family name, clothes, address, phone number, and job title are the most prominent factors in the self we put out in the world. We are now defined by our social media selves as well. We have digital images that speak volumes about who we are, and we need to be ever vigilant that the online self matches our inner selves.
The difference between curating the social-media self and curating the home is that we have a lot of control over who enters our home, but virtually no control whatsoever over who sees our online persona and what they do with the information gleaned there.
We have all heard horror stories of high school students having their college admission rescinded because of something they put out on Instagram or Facebook (for example, the recent Harvard incident). It is not uncommon to learn about people who haven’t gotten a job offer due to an online presence that is not in alignment with a company’s values.
Why does this happen so often? Because the things we find funny or cool or awesome as teenagers and young adults can be less palatable to older adults who have a more highly developed sense of ethics, aesthetics, social norms, and responsibility to family, self, community, and the planet.
In this crazy online world, I urge people at all phases of life to curate their online selves, imagining what their future self might think when looking back on the photos and articles previously posted. All of it speaks to who you are and who you want the world to think you are.
For many years, as a dean at three Ivy League colleges and now as an AVP at a university with an extraordinary mission, I have had a front row seat to the obstacles to success that college students and their parents confront every year. Even at so-called elite, highly selective colleges such as Princeton, Harvard, and Columbia, where I spent some of my career, students struggle on a daily basis to remain healthy, happy, grounded, and to stay in school. I am dedicated to helping them.