I like tests. I especially like standardized tests. I like them because I test well. [i] Who doesn’t enjoy doing things they excel at?
It’s not a particularly useful skill, testing well, and it doesn’t translate to the real world in any practical way. Upon reflection, I’m not even sure why I like them – the results, at least until university, singled me out and not in a good way. One charming teacher in grade six even accused me of cheating. I’m not sure how one cheats an IQ test, but I took it again. I guess she wasn’t fond of my new-to-the-school results and bad attitude. That’s fair. I wasn’t fond of their sexually inappropriate gym teacher.
I’m pretty well-rounded in my results, save for a slight blip on the organization side. This skill does transfer to real life, and I enjoy it. Give me something to assemble or organize, and I’m a happy camper. I’m good with plans, schematics, and optimizing the storage and flow in my kitchen. And bathroom. And garage. Basically, everywhere. Other people’s homes can be a challenge. Have you even heard of baskets, Mabel?
I organize and tweak until things are just right, and then I do it some more. It’s an unending task because life isn’t static. Change means room for improvement.
It’s a talent that extends to more than organizing the flow of a physical space. I optimize operating systems, too, the kind featuring people and routines. Not computers, though. I never bothered to learn about what goes on behind the screen.
The shaming is real, and I don’t care. I can’t fix my car either. I can drive it and do the basic maintenance. There are experts for the rest. Ditto computers.
Am I the only one who feels the pressure to code? Lord save me from shoulds.
I’m careful, however, with the personal systems I put in place. It’s important that I don’t get too attached to the routines and rattan. I need to be a little flexible with my execution. To be organized isn’t just my nature; it’s my safe space, and if I’m not careful, my tendency will upgrade from quirky to rigidly obsessive.
Rigidly obsessive is almost never a good look.
Like many, my brain is built along atypical lines. [ii] I used to refer to myself as damaged or broken: neurodivergent has a nicer ring. It’s also permanent in a way defining something as a mental illness sometimes isn’t: “illness” feels transitory; often, that’s not the case. Witness my ongoing affection for organization, forty-one years in and feelin’ fine. Organized means “safe” in one of the oddly-twisted components of my brain.
I don’t expect it to get untwisted. I think it’s probably the design. The trick is not to dive too deep. Don’t let the love of Lucite boxes escalate into obsession. But used correctly, this sometimes-dangerous quirk of mine provides a boon.
Pretending we aren’t who we are, never works. Owning who we are with honesty is a better choice, though when it comes to full disclosure, I’m tempted to prevaricate and deny. In part, because I’m tired of telling the same story they won’t remember. People generally remember only the truths they wanted to hear.
[i] That’s three “likes” – make that four – in a row: my Grammarly’s going develop a twitch.
[ii] How many of us does there have to be before we’re no longer “atypical?” Are we there yet?