For homework this week, my teacher assigned reading a passage of “Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You” by Sam Gosling. Then, we were to examine our own environments, looking for cases of identity claims, feeling regulators and behavioral residue. “…The environments that people craft around themselves are rich with information about their personalities, values and lifestyles” (Gosling 1).
**AN IMPORTANT SIDE NOTE**
This summer, my partner and I moved to a new apartment we purchased and the apartment is: a) both cleaner and messier than I know would be normally (yes! both at the same time), b) still filled with boxes which house many of my identity claims and feeling regulators, and c) filled with behavioural residue which is a more of a function of moving, than everyday life. I felt it important to note because my home does not have the same feeling of a place which has been lived in for months/years, but I still found traces of all three cases.
These are used to make a declaration about who you are. These are examples of “posters, awards, photos, trinkets, and other mementos – that make deliberate symbolic statements” (Gosling 2). Gosling’s book states there are identity claims that are self-directed (“which reinforce how we see ourselves”) and other-directed (these “signal how [individuals] want to be regarded”).
Here is an assortment of personal items, which came from a box labeled “Bailey’s office”. The label is not to indicate where the items came from, but to indicate where they should go in our new home. There is a worn, old photograph of my partner and I, which was/will be placed next to an Elizabeth Barrett Browning quote. The photograph symbolizes: how far we’ve come as a couple from when the picture was taken 11 years ago, love, a joyous occasion and my identity as a person in a committed, long-term relationship. The photographs in the top right corner are of: my parents & I, my father’s college student card, and old photographs of my mother & her family. These are clear displays of how important my family is in my life and how much love I have for them. My father’s college student card also serves to remind me how important an education is, as he dropped out after two weeks. I have the old photographs (versus current ones) because it reminds me of the nostalgia of growing up on the Prairies and my mother’s family history. The bottom left photograph is of my partner and his brothers and nephew. This represents my love and importance placed within these siblings. As I am an only child, these are my brothers too and I know the value of them because I grew up without. The bottom right is an inspirational quote to motivate me to try my hardest and not focus on being “perfect”. It reminds me that whatever I do, it can and will be great. The moose and Inuit with seal are chachkas that my Aunt Bobbie passed down to me. She knows I am enamored with the Great White North and that I love family mementos, things with history. Growing up an only child my friends have become my family and the memories we made are a part of who I am. I keep all my photographs and film negatives, and will have many pictures of friends, family & adventures out on display in all rooms. These are some of my examples of identity claims because I have a high value on the people in my life, who add love and feeling of family. No room in our home is off limits to our guests, we are very open. My examples of identity claims are self-directed because they reaffirm, remind and encourage myself with mementos of my history, people who love, care, support & encourage me, and quotes that motivate me to try my hardest. My identity claims are also directed towards others because that is the image I wish to portray and share with others.
These items are used to create a personal environment, which specifically “manages our emotions and thoughts” (Gosling 6). Gosling’s book states that:
“Psychologists have long known that optimal performance is associated with an optional level of arousal- to do something well, you must be alert and engaged but not so excited that you cant focus on the task at hand. Moreover, there are vast differences among people in the conditions that promote their optimal arousal levels.”
My feeling regulators are peppered throughout our place, but many are still in boxes. What I did find, were grouped together conveniently. On a tin which houses a comfy fleece blanket, you’ll find a scented candle, a porcelain cat which hangs on the edge of a potted plant (plant to come!) and a quote on a round of wood. These are items that physically comfort me: the blanket wraps me in warmth and shields me from external stressors, the candle smells like trees covered in snow which transports me to fond memories of winter adventures with my partner and friends, the quote on the wooden round is a visual cue to transport me to the forest where I feel calm and in control. Lastly the cat reminds me of my grandmother and her warm demeanor.
These are the remnants that we leave behind in our surroundings by our routine actions. “Not all behavior leaves physical remains… the residue of actions that do leave their mark can tell us a lot about a person’s traits, values and goals” (Gosling 8).
My partner and I have lived together for many years but living in a home we OWN together has been like moving in together for the first time. He is extremely conscious of my “dumping grounds” and “snail trails” as we call them. It has forced me to be a more considerate roommate by dealing with my daily remnants immediately versus how I normally would throw them in a spot and let them build. The pile on the kitchen counter stool is a stack of reminders of things we need to do to complete our moving in process. I have my own type of organization but to most it just looks like clutter.
This exercise was very interesting because I realized I hold onto a lot of items with personal significance, which help project my image of myself and I might be a bit of a pack rat…