Monday, January 5, 2009

To Thine Own Self Be True

A year ago I had a painful revelation.

For many years, I had been under the false but comforting impression that I was Miss Type A. Organized. Together. Detail-oriented. Ambitious. A list-making, time-managing, efficient, dynamo of a gal.

But as time went by, I was daily bombarded by a perplexing disconnect between my identity and my reality. My home was not organized. I often felt that I was anything but "together." And while I own a label maker and I can spend hours roaming the aisles of Staples and I heart containers, my life does not reflect Type-A-ness.

This disconnect between my identity and my reality was ostensibly easy to explain. I was simply a Type-A who had fallen off the wagon. And there were lots of good reasons for this. Juggling career and family and home. Living with disorganized people (known as children.) Not having a Type-A husband to partner with me in all things orderly and organized.

I was a victim of people and circumstances who did not align well with my needs and goals.

And then the truth just hit me one day. Heavy. Undeniable. Painful to swallow. And even more painful to admit to others.

I am not Type-A. I never was. I was just a wannabe Type-A. I didn't fall off the wagon. I was never on it to begin with. I was just some deluded girl running behind the wagon...sprinting, sweating, breathless, and very determined. But not destined.

Don't get me wrong. I love order. I crave visual peace, especially in my home. I even use my label maker. But for every Type-A-ish attribute, there are 10 characteristics that prove otherwise.

I am usually late. I am very absent-minded. I often can't find stuff. I am very easily distracted. I procrastinate unpleasant tasks. I love to start projects and not finish them if they become un-fun. And I feel guilty of course but not guilty enough to employ the self-discipline I need to complete the not-fun project.

Worst of all, I am a horrible manager of my time. Like when I'm on my way to the bathroom and I pass the computer and decide to just quickly check my e-mail and then it's 45 minutes later and I have forwarded a "get to know your friends" questionnaire that somebody sent me that I didn't have the heart not to do and then I decided to make my bed because it would look prettier and then I am wondering why I've nearly peed my pants and why my children are running wild and my baby is screaming in the high-chair and out of Cheerios.
That is not Type-A. That is Type-ADD.

And while I do not want to be that person, I am who I am. And when I finally accepted it, I felt free. And freedom is a beautiful thing.

You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free. And it did.

Sure, it's disappointing to realize you're not who you want to be. But all that blame-shifting and deluded thinking was exhausting and disappointing. Exhausting because I was always running after that dang wagon and never reaching it. Disappointing because I had an impossible image to live up to. Not to mention that being a blame-shifter makes you unlikeable and cranky because you blame everyone and everything except yourself.

Two funny things happened when I told my husband of this grand revelation. First, I got all self-righteous about my self-actualization, thinking I was brilliant for realizing it and so humble and mature for accepting it. (I'm always amazed at my twisted ability to puff up with pride as I glory in my humility.) Second, my grand revelation came as no surprise to him. He just looked at me and smiled.

And then I knew.

He had known all along.

He is a saint, this man. First of all, he lives with me and has put up with all my junk for over 13 years of marriage. Second, he has never felt the need to point out my flaws. He loves me in spite of them and knows that I'll learn what I need to when I need to.

I wish I could say I've always been the same way with him. (I perfected the art of nag years ago. But thankfully God is overhauling that part of me too.)

As it turned out, everyone knew I wasn't just a Type-A who had fallen off the wagon. Everyone but me.

The joy of freedom, of seeing yourself for who you really are, is that you are then finally free to work on the real issues. No more blaming. No more exhaustion. No more disappointment. Well, not as much disappointment.

So I'm working on being a better manager of my time. On being organized (only in the areas where it really matters.) On a few other personal disciplines I've chosen for this year. And I'm actually making progress. We're making progress. (Because if you read a couple of posts ago, you'll recall that I Got Nothin'.)

So for all you Type-A's out there, I love you. I still sometimes want to be you.

But for all you wannabe's still racing after that wagon, consider this...

Maybe you're not meant to be on the wagon.

To thine own self be true.

I forget who said it, but I've decided I like it. And I'm finally free to live it.


  1. Thank you so much for posting that. I mean, I am almost in tears, because although I wasn't really mourning my type A status, I AM about at a breaking point with every symptom that you mentioned. And maybe I'm at a breaking point, in part, because until I got the flu last week, I was finally getting things {more} under control. Dishes kept up, load of laundry done every day AND put away. Beds made, floors swept, the whole deal. And it helped to ease my guilt. That's the wagon that I fell off of. Thank you for posting, and thank you for helping me to accept, and move forward.


  2. This is a marvelous post. I could have written it myself for as true as it is for me. I recently realized this same thing, in a way. And just like yours, my husband knew it all along as well! Thanks for writing this. I give it a hearty Amen!

  3. Ha. I'm laughing because I'm sitting here, just checking blogs & facebook "real quick" which turned into writing my OWN blog post and spending the last 45 minutes on the computer. Now the 5 year old is asking if she can have her turn on the computer, the pictures I want to sort through so that I can order more b/c I have a great coupon (NOT because my scrapbooks are caught up, have mercy, I'm 5 years "behind") are not sorted through, and the meal I'm supposed to start working on to take to some laid-up church people is far from being started.

    I'm thinking I was never on the wagon either. :o)



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