I got in a conversation with a friend about a month ago about some things she was currently working through and topics she had been discussing with her therapist. What she said didn’t immediately resonate with me, but these days it’s coming up very often.
We were talking about the need to put everything in our lives in boxes. To wrap everything neatly, tie a bow around it, and make sure it’s organized. I’ve been dealing with that in the literal and figurative sense these days, but it took me literally packing things into boxes for me to realize how attached I am to the idea of categorization and labeling in my mind.
I’m fortunate enough that Amazon (Jesse’s company, I love that my boyfriend has a brain and a big boy job) has hired movers for this cross-country trek. All I’ve been instructed to do is take the pictures and wall things down. That’s it. The movers will come and pack everything and move it. You’d think that would ease some of my anxiety, but it hasn’t. I went through the house last Sunday frantically putting all these things in boxes. Books, knick-knacks, spices, bathroom stuff, etc. It’s it was somehow on the outskirts of the “furniture” category, I began to fret about how it would be packed and shipped.
That’s when it dawned on me how attached I am to the idea of judgement. How I cling to the idea that something needs identification and organization.
Someone once told me that I have a bad case of the “good isn’t enough” mentality when I was in college. It felt like one of the most accurate descriptions of my personality. Sure, I’m sure the people Amazon has hired to move our stuff 3,000+ miles have done this before, but do they know how to organize my jewelry? Do they know what to do with all my weird spices? Do they know what to do with all of my books? That’s where my anxiety comes in. I know someone is probably competent enough to do it, but will they do it my way?
More importantly, will they understand how I conceptualize my life? Will they understand my boxes?
I’m an abstract thinker by nature, but my mind is pretty organized. I may have all my stuff in boxes that may not make sense to anyone else, but they make sense to me. Unfortunately, I cling to my methods of organization, both tangibly and intangibly. I think we all do.
- Republican or Democrat
- Gay, Straight, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender
- Male or Female
- Black, White, Hispanic, Asian, Pacific Islander
- Southern, Northern, Midwestern, New Englander
- Vegetarian, Vegan, Omnivore, Paleo
- Christian, Catholic, Methodist, Jewish, Buddhist, Islamic
The lists of the lists go on and on. We cling to these ideas that we should organize everything. That we should categorize our beliefs, our experiences, and our lives into these “boxes” because we need to feel understood. We need others to understand who we are before we are truly understood. Being a vegetarian says something about me, but it doesn’t wholly represent who I am. I certainly wouldn’t want someone to arbitrarily pack me into a box labeled “vegetarians” without thinking about other categories I may fall into.
I’m struggling with my desire to but things in boxes. I’m struggling with not adding labels to things. I’m prone to mark things as good or bad, black or white, acceptable or less so. I want to actively work on allowing things in my life to go unlabeled. I don’t want to worry if Seattle will be a good experience or a bad experience, I just want to see it as another step on my life journey. I don’t want to worry about my friends that will keep in touch with me or won’t keep in touch with me, I just want to let it happen.
I want to enjoy the adventure, not worry about organizing it all. Who cares if the movers put my hairbrush in a box with my magazines? It’ll all end up in the same place eventually. It’s been another wonderful lesson in mindfulness. If we’re really living in the moment, we don’t have time to classify things as good or bad, boxable or not boxable, we just enjoy the moment as it comes. I want to do that in my last few weeks in Florida.