I’ve always thought of myself as an organised and timely person. As a child, I’d love to spend a good chunk of my Saturday afternoons cleaning out my desk drawers and organising my stuff. Whenever I got invited to a sleepover in my teens, I’d have a mental list going of what I’d need to bring days ahead of time and the contents of my overnight bag organised on my bed the morning of. And over the years I’ve perfected the art of arriving somewhere exactly as the clock ticks over onto the anticipated start time. Yet, I’d never considered myself a control freak until now. Here’s how I came to this - somewhat obvious yet somewhat startling - realisation.
Yesterday, I attended my Grandad’s 80th birthday. It was a beautiful, sunny day set on the patio of my grandparent’s property. At one point, I found myself in conversation with some of my closer female relatives. Somehow, the conversation steered itself towards rules that they had broken as teenagers, such as shoplifting and street drinking. We all shared a good laugh at the ‘silly’ choices that had been made and what had happened afterwards. I racked my brain for a story to offer, something irresponsible or daring that I had done to share with the group. Do you know what? I couldn’t come up with one single thing.
“Well, that’s great!” I hear you say. “That means you were a sensible and mature kid.” Yes, I was. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m in no way regretful of how I’ve lived, or ashamed that I didn’t totally let loose and make reckless mistakes. It’s just now startlingly obvious that my tendencies to control and organise my living space, my stuff and my time, also seep into the way I live and the choices I make. More pointedly, I feel more comfortable and relaxed when I’m able to regulate the events that are going on around me. The women that I spoke of before are now incredible, successful and caring people, and the choices they made in their teens have in no way shaped their future. And it is THIS, which I find the most interesting.
Usually when I have the urge to control something, say the time I arrive somewhere, it is because I’ve imagined what could happen if I don’t. This imagined version of events is usually quite unrealistic and dramatic, but it feels real (and dire) all the same. The fact that members of my own family could break the rules, make mistakes and be a little irresponsible once upon a time, and not have the ground cave in is liberating for me. It reminds me that making mistakes and surrendering to the flow of life is what helps you to grow, and it can also be a little bit fun. Now, this doesn’t mean you’ll see me off robbing liquor stores or keying cars anytime soon! What it does mean is that I’ve recognised the need to relax a little and ease off the control button from time to time. Life isn’t meant to be organised down to the last detail, it’s mean to be lived and that’s what I intend to do.
If my story resonates with you and you identify as a bit control freaky too, then I invite you to slow down with me and enjoy the ride. Let go and surrender in the knowing that what life has in store for you is probably WAY better than what you had planned anyway.
With gratitude and love,
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