Today as I drove around and around the field, I planned a project. A big collaborative project. I grew more and more excited, scribbling ideas into my little notebook.
“But how could I possibly do that?” I thought to myself. “I’m terrible at organization.”
“Wait.” The notebook was set aside for the moment as I tried to puzzle out this new problem. “Am I organized?”
There was a sudden swift and semi-brutal cognitive dissonance in my mind.
I’ve always partially defined myself by how unorganized I am. I’m the kind of person who’s always leaving the house three minutes late because I couldn’t find my shoes. I think of organized people as the types who have a planner and stick to it, and who have their lives together, neither of which I do.
However, when I’m lying in bed pondering injustices of the world or feelings for boys or whatever, I think in an extremely organized outline format. I summarize first, and then list the main points, and then the sub-points, like I’m writing a research paper or giving a speech.
I love the organization of composing speeches, and blog posts, and term papers. I love directing plays and organizing who goes where at which time and says what. When I was a part of the ROV club I was in my element as the “mom” of the group, keeping everything organized.
So am I or am I not?
As a teen, I defined myself as completely unorganized. Defining myself was very important to me, partially, and somewhat ironically, because I wanted to organize people into categories and see where I fit. I imagined that the person I was when I emerged from my teens was the person I’d always be.
This has proved false. For instance, I defined myself as bad at math, when in reality I’m just slow at math. Even so, I still find myself making decisions based on somewhat outdated definitions I created for myself.
Like, “oh, you can’t do that project, Emily! You’re not organized!”
When I got home, I said, “Mom, can I ask you an odd question? It’s not a trick question. Just answer honestly.”
“Am I organized?”
“When you choose to be.”
Oh. Okay. I’m organized when I choose to be. Cognitive dissonance is over. Reason and order is restored to my mind.
Have you ever defined yourself a certain way only to find those definitions changing with age?