Find Your Genius in the Mess of It All

My genius is in my purse. Confused? Let me explain.

I carry a giant purse that is stuffed to the brim with everything I need, which includes two of everything. I used to judge myself for not being more organized. I even found myself gravitating toward people who appeared to have all their shit together (which translated to tiny clutches with a small handful of carefully curated items).

At some point, after all the hard knocks and epiphanies, I figured out that my messiness was actually the true source of my genius.

That word genius has plenty of meanings for most of us. Some of us think of it as an inborn talent, while others see it as an expression of our deepest truth. For me, our genius isn’t merely something we’re really good at doing. And it’s not about mastering some subject or art, and getting it perfect or right.

For me, my genius is the brilliant gem that lives in the mess of it all.

In the midst of the conflicts, the fear, the confusion, and the million curveballs life is sure to throw our way, our genius is the unexpected gift. It is not born from perfection, or escaping the distractions and “harsh” realities of our lives to find ideal circumstances. With genius, there is no “if only.” We discover it right in the middle of our life, exactly as it is, precisely where we are. That was a huge lesson for me when I wrote my first book, Your Messy Brilliance. I was called upon to walk my talk and to live the lessons I was writing about, every step of the way. And by no means was it easy.

But here’s the thing: Genius doesn’t exist despite our unique stories and struggles; it exists because of them.

Only when you decide to dive right into your mess with the utmost self-acceptance and compassion will you find your genius. This involves getting really curious about where your true joy and purpose live, as well as where you experience fear, confusion, and paralysis. The place where all of these things meet up is where you will find your genius. The deepest, darkest messes in our lives often lead us to our brightest passions—because they were never separate, to begin with.

Whatever the case, your genius is really just about your specific story and struggles…you know, the stuff that people often write off as being too messy, or too weird and out of the box. Sometimes, we’re too busy covering it up and hoping that nobody else will see to acknowledge it as the source of our greatest wealth.

But the cool thing about messiness is that it’s the source of our power as creative beings.

Every good idea any of us has ever had, every bolt of inspiration from out of the blue, emerged from a messy, primal soup of creativity. That’s why, even when I attempted to clean out my purse, I would just end up feeling irritated and unsettled. After all, when I tried to limit myself, I ended up not having everything that I actually needed or wanted. The things that other people might have written off as unnecessary knick-knacks were actually important and contributed to my sense of resourcefulness.

Messiness varies from person to person, but it usually clashes with our “ideal” images and the version of perfection spoon-fed to you by society. I’ve always admired the people that have a neat, orderly environment. But, because I finally realized that part of my genius lives and breathes in my “giant purse” m.o., I know that I’m being resistant to my own brilliance when I fixate on cleaning every nook and cranny of my home!

Each time I surrender to my messiness, I discover that I no longer need to control my environment—or the contents of my purse.

I used to be so frustrated with my gigantic purse because it symbolized everything I resented about myself: my randomness, my inability to just get it together and be organized, and the fact that my mind is much faster than my ability to respond to its directions. But here’s the thing: My randomness IS my genius. It’s the powerful key to accessing my creativity. When I stop trying to keep myself nice and neat and organized and in control, I discover that I can really let go of control and be more of my true self. And when that happens, I have free rein to do what I do best: create.

I discovered that when I stopped keeping the “monster” of my messiness on lockdown because of shame or fear, I could see it for what it really was: my genius. I could go wild, revel in my messy terrain, and turn the perceived beast into the source of my truest beauty.

So, what’s your genius?

Where does it flourish, and where does it hide out? If you’re having difficulty identifying it, notice the places where you close down or cover up because you are trying to get it “right.”

I want you to polish your brilliant diamond and discover your true genius—which is something only YOU have. Your genius is the source of your greatest joy, and the world needs it. And, contrary to popular belief, you can only find it by taking the leap of faith and diving into your mess.


This is part of a series of blogs about the power of owning your messy brilliance, leading up to the publication of my book, Your Messy Brilliance, 7 Tools for the Perfectly Imperfect Woman. When you pre-order Your Messy Brilliance today, you’ll claim a free seat in my upcoming course, Embrace Your Messy Brilliance in 30 Days ($49 value). Click here to learn more.

And be sure to sign up for my email newsletter, Notes to My Messy Self, for a daily reminder of the powerhouse that you are. Sign up here.

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About the Author | Kelly McNelis

Kelly McNelis is the founder of global community, Women for One, a speaker, coach, facilitator, and bestselling author of Your Messy Brilliance: 7 Tools for the Perfectly Imperfect Woman. With more than 25 years of experience as a nonprofit and small-business consultant, Kelly empowers generations of women around the world to build the relationships, community, and confidence they need to achieve their wildest dreams. She finds daily inspiration in spending time with her husband and children in her home outside of Seattle.

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