The older I get, the more introspective I get. The more I learn, or realize, about myself. Sometimes I like what I learn and others, not so much. In books and articles that teach about writing, they all say to make your characters multi-dimensional. To give them contradictions in their personalities. For instance, someone who follows all the rules but always drives over the speed limit. I’ve discovered some of these contradictions in my own personality and I’ve given them the term, “personal paradoxes.” I would wager that everyone has their own paradoxes. If they look closely. Here are a few of mine.
A phrase coined for myself years ago. My home may have stuff on the floor, the coffee table may be covered with trash or books or both, and my desk can be invisible to the naked eye. Yet if you were to look in the drawers and closets, everything is organized and in its place. In my past life, I had two perfectionists for roommates. Two separate times. As you can imagine, it was not pretty. For their sake. One of them was so particular, she ironed her sheets. But the socks in her drawer weren’t matched up. I asked her about this once, because it made no sense to me. She said, “No one sees inside the drawers and closets.” Okay, but it still didn’t make sense. To me, anyway. Ironing sheets and searching for matching socks were two time wasters, in my opinion. The other roommate almost lost her life. We were in college, and I was in the middle of homework at the coffee table when I took a break. I came back from my walk to find my papers all in one pile, on my bed. It looked like a mess to her, but I knew what was what among the piles of notes and research. PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Never touch an organized person’s stuff. If you value your life, just don’t.
This one is a recent discovery. I’ve called myself the Queen of Procrastination for a while now. I’ve also always been impatient but never put the two together. See, while I am impatient, I’m slow at getting things accomplished. One time, my boss told me that my slowness (laid back attitude towards tasks) frustrated him; but once he realized that I’ll get it done, he relaxed a bit (at least that’s how I remember the conversation). So where does my impatience come into play? Well, there’s something within me that just can’t go below the speed limit. The 25mph zones are my enemy. Three times I’ve been pulled over for going 40mph on those streets. I also will not arrive late to anything. That is a result of my childhood, which is a story for another blog. So while I’m slow at completing things or I put things off, when it comes to certain things I will not wait until the last minute. Here’s a prime example: The day I started working on this blog, I was at the church where I work. There was an event to get ready for, and I arrived three hours beforehand to set up. All because I didn’t want to rush around minutes before it started. I live a complicated life!
I’m a planner. Always have been. When I was in college, I would appear to be taking notes when in reality I was plotting out the rest of my day. It was one way for me to stay awake during 7:30 am classes and a way to make sure I got homework done that afternoon. I’m to the extreme now. Each month I plot out my time and then use that calendar to schedule each week in detail. Now, even though I plan out my time, it doesn’t mean I follow it. Here’s an example: A few months ago, my sister (who lives in Texas) let me know she was going to be in Pittsburgh for business and wanted to get together. Sure. Great. No problem. Pittsburgh is only two and a half hours away. The plan was to just spend the day since she had a meeting with a colleague for dinner, plus I needed to be home at a decent time. Well, the night before the outing, I discovered the Cubs were playing on the Pirates’ turf. I think you can see where this is going (if you’ve read a previous blog, “Lessons From Baseball“). I forgot all about the “need” to be home early. We got tickets and I stayed the night.
As humans, we are complex creatures. Men don’t understand women, women can’t understand men, and we can’t even understand ourselves at times. This isn’t a bad thing. It’s more of a fun thing. It’s fun to learn stuff about ourselves and how we operate. Then once we know what makes us tick, we can embrace it and really flourish in life, work, and play.
What are some of your own personal paradoxes?