Confessions of a (recovering) Type A
I get asked a lot about how I juggle all the things that I do. Like it's somehow admirable to be spinning ten plates with a hundred dancing monkeys on them. (Well, maybe that is a little admirable.)
If you’re a Type A perfectionistic overachiever, you might get asked this a lot too. (I also get asked why I do what I do, but the inner workings of the Rachel Schmidt psyche are another thing entirely.) How do I work three businesses and raise two children and train for triathlons and practice yoga and write a novel and (attempt) to write a blog, and participate in what I hope is a healthy marriage? (Now do you see the dancing monkeys?) But this messy conglomeration of activities actually makes me pretty happy. Much happier than when I was a driven, perfectionistic graduate student. But a lot of people lately have called me “amazing” or “inspiring” for doing all these things, which makes me a little uncomfortable, seeing as I know the Real Truth.
So now I need to set the record straight.
What really goes on behind the scenes of a Type A overachiever who only looks like she has it all together? (I feel like a magician about to reveal the secrets of other magicians, breaking some sort of code. Sorry fellow Type A’s. We do not have it all together. And if you say you do, you’re lying.)
I could tell you that I’m super efficient with my time and set goals and get up really early, blah blah blah. And those things are all true. But don’t you ever wonder what gives? Something has to, right? No one can do everything, not even me (though I pretend to really well. I knew those acting lessons would come in handy one day--thanks, Mr. Ed).
So here are just a few of my confessions:
My house is never clean. (Sorry to both Robin Sharma and my mom--I've failed you on that one.) If there is one place where I’m an underachiever, this is it. Unless I have someone coming over, in which case I gather up all the loose bits of clothing and toys and papers and other random junk throughout my house, throw them into my office and slam the door. There always seem to be a mountains of laundry that never get put away and food on the floor and kids’ pajamas everywhere. (Seriously. How many pairs of pajamas can two kids have?) We are listing our house soon and my strategy is to have a bunch of empty Rubbermaid containers at the ready, so I can swoop through the house and dump stuff in them at a moment's notice. Seal them up and ta-da! Instant organization. And it’s not that I don’t try or don’t care. But let’s be real here: I only have so many hours in the day and I have two kids that seem to just shed stuff everywhere they go. In fact, I heard that instead of saying "I don't have time for [xxx]" you should say, "[xxx] is not my priority." That seems fair: having a tidy house is not my priority. I also read on the Internet that only boring women have immaculate houses. (And according to some of my former students, if it’s on the Internet then it must be true.)
My hair is always wet. You know that mom who drops off her kid every day looking like she just came from the stylist? Yeah, that’s not me. Ever. I get home in the morning from yoga or a workout with exactly half an hour to be back out the door for school with both kids. It comes down to dry hair or getting dressed. Since I’d prefer not to be arrested or freeze to death, I choose clothes.
I lose everything. Phone, wallet, glasses, debit card, credit card, mittens, car in the parking lot. If it weren't for the kindness of strangers, I would have no earthly possessions. I even left my laptop at Starbucks once, no lie. My laptop. It’s hard to give my son a hard time about losing his $10 mittens when I've misplaced a computer, a phone and a wallet. (At least we know where he gets it from.)
I live in yoga clothes. I have only two pairs of jeans and have been known to wear the same yoga pants seven days in a row. True story. But I actually am a yoga teacher, so I get a free pass on this one, right?
I don’t spend a lot of time cooking. That doesn’t mean we eat a lot of take-out, but we do eat a lot of stir-fry and tacos. A lot. More than we probably should. I actually used to love cooking before I had kids. But now, trying to follow a new recipe while two mini tyrants run around thinking it’s hilarious to take turns poking my butt is just not my idea of a good time. Thus, tacos.
My (unfinished) basement is a disaster. I try not to think about it. I have been known to open the door to the basement, throw something down the stairs, and close it again as quickly as possible. I wish that were a joke. (My highly organized mother just shuddered. She can barely take it.)
So that’s how I do it. Basically by neglecting a lot of things that many of you would probably find “necessary”. Like laundry.
But hey, I’m pretty happy with my compromises. If I were a perfectionist in every aspect of my life, I’d just be back to my miserable, stressed out, pre-cancer self.
And that high-strung mama wasn't any fun at all.