I am not the kind of person for whom neatness comes easily. I can’t keep to a routine. Every surface of my house is piled with clothes, books, and papers (despite living with a minimalist partner). I start many things and rarely finish them. I find it impossible to focus on instructions. I imagine complex, faraway concepts, but can never seem to get the basics of reality right.
There’s always so much going on in my head, like a thousand different songs playing at once. I try to follow them all, but I can’t. I freeze in the overwhelm and feel like it’s all my fault.
My disorganization was more obvious when I was young and at school. It was easy enough to work on things I cared about, but impossible to dedicate time to the things I didn’t. When I was 14, I wrote a long essay about the plague. The subject — the decimation of entire populations of Europe, all without explanation — darkly fascinated me. I couldn’t learn enough. But proofreading my own work didn’t hold much satisfaction; it felt like eating the side salad after the main. Printing was also overwhelmingly cumbersome. My printer at home was broken, and the effort of saving the file onto a floppy disk to print it out at the library held zero appeal. So it did not get done.
When I handed in my essay two weeks after the due date, it was weighed down by late penalties, spelling errors, and shame.
As I’ve gotten older, it’s been easier to hide or compensate for these issues. But all along, I’ve identified with negative descriptors for this part of my world and personality, like “absent-minded,” “daydreamer,” “disorganized,” “aloof,” “lazy,” “strange,” “confused,” “clumsy,” “distracted,” and “somewhere else.” In fact, I feel like I’ve lived my entire life somewhere else, and only on occasion do the colors and the responsibilities come flooding back, alongside a cold, heavy feeling in the pit of my stomach.