Confession: I’m just the tiniest bit type A.
Why, yes, this is my outfit planner for August, along with the little notecards I use with all my clothes on them.
At the beginning of each month, I shuffle the deck and see what I’ll look like for the next month. (I was using a service, but it was $5 a month, and its randomness didn’t give me as much control over how often I wore stuff and dressing for particular occasions. So I DIY’d it.)
Here’s why I organize the heck out of my clothes. Waste stresses me out. I hate buying clothes I don’t wear, but sometimes, I feel self-conscious wearing my fancier outfits or trying new things. When I create outfits, I actually use everything. As a side benefit, it makes me feel braver to look nice.
So I try just a little too hard with my clothes every month.
I’m delighted I’ve found a solution to my anxiety about clothing, However, I’ll be honest. Spending this much mental energy planning out my outfits really, really embarrasses me.
I like being organized; it’s a helpful life skill. I also feel sheepish about being organized, because it’s just the littlest bit much. Yes, I plan incessantly. Yes, I let little hand-drawn cards tell me what to wear. No, my style is not spontaneous or spur-of-the-moment.
Very little that I do is spontaneous. Carefree spontaneity stresses me out.
I plan a lot, guys. I plan menus, grocery lists, what jewelry to wear, my children’s activities, my cleaning schedule, my writing schedule, and where to put the flour in the pantry. I do this:
- out of desperation because otherwise I can’t find or remember stuff,
- so I have enough bravery to accomplish stuff that scares me because smaller tasks and a schedule ease my performance anxiety,
- because order makes me calm.
I do not wing things. I try hard, I plan ahead, and I overthink everything, including where to buy my underwear.
I used to try to avoid planning because it used to make me feel lame. I thought it probably made me seem perfectionistic and controlling.
But the funny thing is that for me personally, planning helps me let go of control and perfectionism. It eases my anxiety and helps me concentrate energy on other stuff. I’m calmer and less bossy when I plan because I know I’ve done what I could to create order—and if that wasn’t enough, I have to trust God for everything else.
So why the embarrassment? I didn’t get it.
Reading Brené Brown’s book, I Thought It Was Just Me (But it Isn’t) a few years ago, I came across this sentence about the paradox of perfectionism: “Imperfection brings shame, and working too hard for perfection brings shame.”
Little bells went off. You can be perfectionistic about not trying too hard.
I could not believe it.
This is me, I thought. Thisismethisismethisisme.
I have always been so freaking scared of trying too hard. Being too much, being intense and overenthusiastic. “Play it cool, Caliri,” I say. It didn’t work.
I was like a duck, appearing motionless from the waist up, while my feet paddled like crazy.
It’s a little hard to hide your penchant for planning when you get excited about organizing your pantry. (I legitimately like organizing my pantry).
But I’m done holding back at 40. I don’t really care about coolness anymore. I am much more hopped up on passion.
In other words, my Type-A, try-hard way of living is nothing to be ashamed of—and neither is its spontaneous opposite. I don’t need to hide my intensity, my plans, or my lack of spontaneity. I don’t need to apologize for how my brain works.
You don’t either. It’s okay to have to work way too hard to be a decent parent, or artist, or person. It’s okay to be just slightly intense about life, planning, or spontaneity.
When you find something that calms you, that frees you from anxiety or shame, that makes your life easier and uses less energy, grab it even if it makes you feel self-conscious.
Let’s stop hedging our bets on life, holding back for fear of losing our cool. Let’s live sold out and all cards on the table, running pell-mell after anything that brings lasting peace.
And lets look our shame in the eye—wherever it comes from—and treat our naked longing and fear with compassion.