To put it simply, the “just do it” mentality does not work for me. I have tried to make it work for years. I have hated it. Everything looks so shiny, clean, and organized, why wouldn’t I want that to work? It works for literally everyone else! But the bullet journals, excel spreadsheets, countless lists that other people use to strategize and order their time, their day-to-day, their second-by-second… those didn’t work for me. For the longest time, I would pretend they did. I would pretend all the days spent documenting my time would actually make me productive, would actually get me places. I would pretend I was the type A, checks and balances, get-shit-done kind of person.
I’m not that person.
I am the last-minute, brilliant burst of creative energy that throws her clothes on the floor kind of person. Where people see chaos, I know exactly which pile of papers contain my bills. I know which purse my sunglasses are in. I know I put that important note right next to my jacket. I know my headphones are on top of my sketchbook, under the table. You see a mess. I see spatial relationships between objects. That’s how my mind works; that’s my organization; that’s my system.
But that is not how society has programmed us to work. For every object, a place. If it is not clean, it is messy. If it is not order, it is chaos. If it does not check all the boxes, it is not acceptable. If these measures are not met, we kindly ask you to feel the required dose of guilt and shame for not meeting those pre-requisites.
Society is rigid. Rules are rigid. Expectations are rigid. Success is rigid.
We have grown up defining our success by someone else’s standards, and that is exactly why it is so hard to define our own success. We are not raised by our standards, but by the standards of our parents and guardians, our friends and community, and by the standards of the media. Sad, but honest. As many times as people say, “You have to have your own definition of success,” no one is really there to help you figure it out, especially if it’s vastly different from what everyone else is doing. Especially if you’re not as rigid as everyone else. It is one thing to understand, quite another to enact. We cannot remove the individual from the individual’s experience, but that is exactly what our society wants to market, a one-size fits all.
I have spent so many years trying to keep to those standards, that I have forgotten I am far happier and far more productive when I’m allowed to work fluidly. Having multiple projects going at once is comfortable, fostering open dialogue between colleagues and departments is my bread and butter. For me, working at multiple angles outside of a system is better than working from the bottom of one to the top. Pulling myself up by my bootstraps is dropped in favor of climbing around your company’s pyramid rather than up it. It’s about being honest with myself and possible employers, that everything’s too wide open to be certain about longevity, but I’m certain I will always do my best.
Society is malleable. Rules can be bent. Expectations are irrelevant. Success is fluid.