Overplanning Woman, Phenomenal Woman
I sometimes overthink things, living in my own head and getting lost in my thoughts, analyzing too much of what other people say and how they behave, trying to read between the lines. I take a lot of time to observe before jumping in and often only open up to people after I’ve known them for several months or even years. And I usually hate last minute things—they make me anxious. I always like to know what the plan is and tend to opt out of things when I don’t know about them far enough in advance to mentally prepare.
All of this planning and overthinking (something one could argue is perhaps just an aspect of my introverted personality), is also my form of risk management—I don’t want to open up to the “wrong” people or the “wrong” situations and end up with my feelings hurt. Ultimately, it’s me trying to control what happens to me.
I dealt with a lot of instability growing up. Many of my earliest memories of my parents together are of them fighting; they were very "on-and-off." For a while, my Dad would live with us, and then other times he was gone. Though he’d call on the phone and we’d visit, it of course wasn’t the same as having him home. Then, my Mom became really sick, suffering from severe chronic pain from multiple car accidents. There were times she was so frail during my late middle school and early high school years that I thought she was dying. I used to sit by her chair and hold her hand and pray silently that she’d get better, hoping that the one person who was a total constant wouldn’t be gone from me.
On top of that, we had to move seven times within the same area within about twelve years because of our financial situation; every couple of years, it was a new apartment or townhouse. While some people think that so much change can make a person adaptable, my response was the opposite. Overplanning and working really hard were my ways of escaping worry and of trying to be certain that nothing bad ever happened to me. I thought that if I planned enough and analyzed everything enough, I could dodge the pitfalls. Because my circumstances at home changed so much and nothing ever felt stable, I found that I clung a lot to the things that were constant, like going to the same school for a long time. But whenever I was faced with a new situation or huge transition, I became filled with anxiety and would close up because it wasn’t what I was used to, and those fears about rapidly changing situations would appear.
As I grow older, I’m realizing that you can only plan life but so much. As much as it terrifies me sometimes, there will be events and moments that happen that I can never plan for—good ones and bad ones. Planning can be absolutely awesome and I do love it, but I also am learning that in trying to restrict the bad things so heavily, I was often closing myself off from amazing and beautiful things. The college experience itself, as well as particular people I met in college, helped me live with a greater sense of “presentness.” Instead of thinking so much about trying to plan the future or clinging to what I know, I push myself to embrace the unplanned moments and to go for experiences that are new, even when they are so scary, they bring me to tears at times. I am still working on this and probably will always have to, but as I do, I am seeing more of life’s possibilities and becoming more and more grateful for the gift of living.
‘Cause I am an overplanning woman. Phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, that's me.