A 30-Something Girl Scout?

Last year was my year of dealing with "stuff" as we prepared to sell our flat and buy a real grown-up house. Not only did I embark on my life-changing clear out, but my Mom sent over all my childhood belongings. Now everything I own (O.K., the childhood doll house was not shipped to England) resides under my roof.

One thing I discovered during this process is that not only have I struggled with chronic procrastination my whole life, but I also am not good at finishing tasks, even ones I'm enjoying. I have ventured to try to understand this and -- even without the help of a professional psychologist -- I have come to the conclusion is that this has been completely about perfectionism, which is completely about anxiety.

When I describe this to people they are always baffled as they perceive me to be driven, organized and together -- a honest-to-goodness nerd. But that's the problem: I am driven and organized, and I use those bursts of energy to make up for all the time I spend not getting around to things or not getting them finished. And then everything works out O.K. in the end (or even better than O.K.), so in a way it's never been a "problem".

Oh but it has. It's hard to enjoy life and the work that you want to do when you're in a constant state of anxiety about being behind on everything.

Which made me realize that something had to change. And when I saw my Girl Scout sash among my childhood belongings I decided to do something radical. The sash was not complete -- it was accompanied by a neat baggie which contained some of the badges that I had never sewn on. I was mortified: what kid wants to be a Girl Scout, does the work for a badge and then doesn't sew it on? There was even a sewing badge there! What the what?

So over Christmas, which we spent at my in-laws, I sewed on all the badges that were missing from the sash. Even the cookie sale ones. (Consequently my father in law said he had a badge he wanted sewed on a sweatshirt, so I did that one too. Everyone wins!)

I know it sounds nuts. But for me it was a symbolic activity. It was almost as if with each stroke of the needle I was telling that little girl who is still in there somewhere that there's no reason not to be bold. Whatever it is I want to do, why not do it whole hog and not care what anyone else thinks? Whether it's being a Girl Scout, a writer or something else entirely. And, maybe even more importantly, that I am capable of these things -- there's no reason to fear this specter of failure I've been running from my whole life.

I think Girl Scout cookie time is coming up soon, so if you live in the U.S., please support this great organization. It's still teaching me lessons, even as a 30-Something former Girl Scout. I have my order in already for a box of samoas.

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  1. What a great insight about anxiety/perfectionism. Enjoying your blog ... found it googling for photos of the Marie Kondo folding method :)

    1. I knew vertical folding was helpful in more ways than one! ;) Glad you found it - thanks so much for reading!


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