I am a lister. I make lists for everything and anything. There’s grocery lists, packing lists, lists for tasks, separate lists for things to do today, in the next month, in the next six months. If I’ve got something coming up, there is most definitely a list to go along with it.
My compulsion comes from the perfectionist side of myself. I figure that if I make a list, I’ll think of all the things that need to be done. And if I think of all the things that need to be done, I’ll always be safe, whether that is safety from forgetting to get my credit report to remembering to call my mother after surgery. If there is a list, then I can maintain the idea of being dependable. But it gets in my way sometimes, causing me to freak out if my list is not accomplished or stress over getting everything on my list done. While it helps me to pay all our bills on time, it also stifles me.
This became clear tonight as I looked at my list of things left to do before I leave for vacation tomorrow. I noticed there were a few, nonessential items that I didn’t get around too. I tore off the old sheet of paper from the notepad and went to create a new list for when I get back, but then I stopped. I realized that if I made this list I’d have it hanging over me the whole trip. It would always be in the back of mind, haunting me as I cast my line during the fishing competition (which, by the way, the girls are so winning!) and running through my brain as I stare out the window on the ride home. And I know exactly what would happen. I’d leave it on the kitchen table so that I wouldn’t forget where it was and as soon as I walked in the door I’d see it and be reminded of all the things I needed to get done the next day. I’d come back a grump.
My stubborn side met up with my perfectionist side and tried to convince my chill side to make a list but not put it on the kitchen table. “It’ll be in the other room though,” they whined. “You won’t see it until you’re ready.” But my chill side fought back and won, saying, “Relax man. It’ll be alright.”
And that’s really the problem isn’t it? I don’t believe it will all be okay. I believe that I won’t be able to catch myself, that I’ll forget something and drop that damn imaginary ball that everyone keeps talking about.
So I put the pen down, walked away from the suitcase that still needed to be packed and the dishes that still need to be done and watched an episode of The Hills (don’t judge. You know you watch Jersey Shore and that’s even worse) until my husband got home.