Establishing familiarity: A watercolor avocado, a T-Swift ticket stub & many terrible family selfies

Nov. 14, 2017, 1:00 a.m.

I’ve always hated blank white spaces. To me, empty walls are meant to be decorated and covered with the things you love, however strange or silly they may be. When I moved into Lantana this year, I had a mission to make my side of the room feel like home and to do it in a single afternoon. The job ahead of me wasn’t easy — I had a much larger  wall to decorate than the previous year. But once I got in the zone with my sticky tacks and Command hooks, there was no stopping me.

I’d describe my wall as organized clutter. There are more than a hundred photos of my family and friends, amateurly painted canvases, tickets from notable events, posters, maps — I’ll put basically anything up on the wall. You can even find a watercolor picture of an avocado my sister made me for my 20th birthday last summer. Whenever someone comes into the room, there’s usually a 30-second period of silence as they take in the contents hanging on my wall. I used to be embarrassed about this reaction, but I’ve since realized making a space your own is important.

At Stanford it’s easy to get lost and find yourself in an unfamiliar place. This could be a physical space or a mental state. Whether you end up in the wrong building for a new class or can’t seem to settle on a major, you might start to feel adrift and out of control. During these times of confusion, it’s important to establish familiarity in any way you can. I believe coming home to a safe, comfortable space is a great way to start.

Hanging up a tapestry from your grandmother, a collage of postcards or a running list of hilarious quotes can make all the difference. Even if the only thing you have is a ripped “Star Trek” poster from Five Below, you should display it proudly above your bed. Your walls don’t have to be aesthetic (mine certainly aren’t), but they should be full of things that harbor good memories and a sense of comfort. Trust me, staring at something meaningful instead of a blank wall is so much better when you’re procrastinating an assignment.


Contact Emily Schmidt at [email protected].



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