alphabetizing my anxiety

i’ve been thinking about my library all day. i call it my library but it’s really just a converted storage closet. i like having all of my books in one place though. i like having them sectioned into fiction and non-fiction categories. i like that authors with multiple books are sorted by publication date.


it’s not perfectly organized, unfortunately, and that’s bothering me today. i feel like i need to revisit the layout. the non-fiction books are categorized and alphabetized within sections but the fiction books are a little random. i could do better.

the kitchen junk drawer has also been on my mind. it needs some work. it has dividers and the contents are sorted, but i’m sure there are items that need to be culled. it just feels like it’s a little wrong.

likewise, the drawers in my room could use work. i’m sure i have things i don’t need. their existence is weighing on me. i could probably use some more drawer dividers and i’m not really sure about my folding. perhaps i should redo everything marie kondo-style.


it’s been awhile since i’ve organized the pantry cupboard. the soups are chaotic and they’re creeping into the canned vegetable section. there are pasta sauce bottles resting in random locations. plus, i just bought a cast iron skillet that needs to get put away, and the pan cupboard is kind of full, and i think i should move all the baking items into a different cupboard. basically, i’m going to have to redo everything.


there are a lot of things on my need-to-do-right-now list all of a sudden and that generally means one thing. it does not mean that i’ve become a passionate adherent of the perfection and beauty that can be found with the skilful application of closet liners and space organizers. instead, it means that my anxiety is on the rise.

when my synapses start firing all at once, and when i feel overwhelmed and ready to run, one of my default behaviours is puttering. i think it’s an attempt to create a peaceful within by creating a peaceful without. it’s an effort to calm the chaos by making sure that what surrounds is tranquil and not agitating. almost everyone has calming routines – this is one of mine.

i’m never sure whether this frenetic tidying is an admirable coping behaviour or some weird, obsessive-compulsive need. so far, the tidying isn’t extreme enough to interfere with my day to day life so i’ve decided it doesn’t matter. i’ve come to believe that if my puttering works as a non-self-harming coping technique, i’ll take it.

we need to embrace what works, as long as it isn’t causing damage, regardless of what anyone else might think about it. i’m going to stop being embarrassed by doing the things that i need to do. we get to choose the tools in our toolbox. coping with anxiety is a challenge so finding something that works to mitigate it is a win. my friends might mock my alphabetized library, tidy cupboards, and matching hangers but they don’t know that the time spent doing these things stops me from behaviours that are not nearly as benign.

as is the case with most things, we have to do what works for us. you do you, and let judgements about your behaviours go, as long as they harm none.


(february 26, 2018)

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