Move-in day: probably one of the most iconic and also most stressful days of freshman year. A few weeks ago, I had mine, transitioning my whole life to a little college in Mississippi. I’ve gotten settled in and learned a lot along the way, and I want to share some of that with you today.
Before we get to the big thing I’ve been learning, here are a few little tips to make moving in and settling in a lot less stressful:
One: Don’t try to pack everything. Make a list as you pack and then go to Target or somewhere once you get there to save space in your car. Things you can buy there include snacks, paper towels, cleaning supplies, decorations and command hooks, etc. (On a side note, make sure you have a good stock of snacks! You’ll need them.)
Two: Bring a board game or card game or something. It will be fun to share in social situations. You might think you won’t use it – you actually will.
Three: Make a to-do list for the day! The day I moved in, there was so much going on, so many little things that needed to get done, and I tried to keep it all in my head. Not a good strategy. Write down anything that you think of; that way you can focus on one thing at a time without worrying about forgetting things.
Four: I have my bed raised pretty high off the ground, and I made a little nook underneath it with a rug and a bunch of pillows. It’s such a nice place to sit and study, it’s where I do my devotions, etc. I would recommend it!
Five: Use your first few days to get the lay of the land. Figure out where your classes are and where other things are on campus that you might need. Check your mail. Find the library. Etc.
Six: Try not to stay up ridiculously late right away. It’s not summer camp, even though it might feel like it – you have to maintain your life for a whole semester. Especially if you like your roommate, it feels like a sleepover initially. It’s okay to enjoy some of that, but try not to go too crazy.
Seven: Unpack everything as quickly as possible and get it organized. Starting out that way for a few days is nice while you get your footing. But know that it likely won’t stay that way, which leads me to the big lesson I’ve been learning so far…
It’s okay for things to be a mess.
In general, I’m a very organized person. I like things to be neat and nice, everything in its proper place, easy to keep track of. But since I got to college, I’ve had less and less time to clean and organize. There’s not a lot of surface space in my dorm, so everything gets piled on the desk most of the time. And I’m learning to be okay with that.
Here’s the thing: life is not about cleanliness. Life is about the pursuit of God, and living each day in light of eternity. To put it bluntly, organization for its own sake is pointless and a waste of time.
Yes, God is a God of order, and we are called to be good stewards of the possessions He has given us. But taken to extremes, the pursuit of organization can become a distraction from better and more important things. Everything we do in our lives should be for the sake of the kingdom of God, and so the only reason to clean and do laundry and other things of that nature is so that the disorder won’t hinder our kingdom work.
If it’s a little bit messy, that’s okay. Maybe your time would be better spent reading your Bible, or ministering to a friend who needs encouragement, or pouring yourself into the local church. It comes down to priorities. What is in our hearts? Are we making organization an idol? Or is it one more means to the ultimate end of seeking God’s glory throughout our whole lives?
As I’m getting settled into college, I’m realizing more and more that I don’t have the time to make sure my dorm always looks perfect. There are bigger and better things happening that need my care and attention. As long as I can continue living, the mess is okay.
Do you make organization an idol? How are you learning to embrace the mess in everyday life? If you’re in college, what move-in tips do you have?