On the face of it, I am a fairly well-rounded person. I have managed to run my own business for a few years (so far!) I am raising my two children in a way that most people think is adequate and I am acceptable enough to have a husband who loves me and some friends who like to have me around.
Not bad, overall.
I am also incredibly disorganised. I have close to zero common sense and I do things that even makes my 6-year-old daughter look at me with bemused confusion.
I have been through six debit cards in the last two years, I never remember where I put my car keys and I must activate the ‘find my phone’ service at least every week, if not more.
I have always been that way. Whether it was my PE kit when I was at school, my ID badge to get into the library at university or misplacing my wedding ring after I was married – I could not and cannot organise myself and my belongings for the life of me.
And it really annoys my parents.
Every time I have to ask them if they have seen my keys, or ask to borrow cash because I don’t know where my card is, or ask them to help me look for my phone I always get met with a huge sigh and some variation of:
‘For Goodness Sake, Amy! What is wrong with you! You need to take better care of your things. How on earth you function in life I will never know!’
‘This is just ridiculous now. When are you going to grow up and actually start to organise yourself? You are 35 years old!’
My inability to organise my personal affects has always been a huge emotional weight for me. I would feel shame and guilt and worry each time I misplaced something, and I would do everything I could possibly think of to rectify the situation before I told anyone because the sense of shame I felt from the judgements were biting and tore right through me.
I should say at this point, my parents are lovely people, but their opinion means a lot to me, so to hear the same things levelled at me time and time again had a big impact on the way I viewed myself.
One day, about a year ago I was walking with my daughter past my parents’ house. As we carried on a little further down the road, my watch informed me it was now disconnected from my phone: I had lost it again.
Retracing my steps, it reconnected again in a big patch of grass near my parents’ front door. And while I was busy hunting for it, my dad came out. Understandably he asked what I was doing, and I had to explain I had lost my phone. The usual reply of me being useless with stuff like that and needing to get organised was forthcoming, but this time something was different.
I said ‘you know what, Dad? I am disorganised. I lose things and I am always forgetting where things are. That is just a little quirk of a personality that is otherwise pretty cool. I also run my own business, raise two amazing children, and maintain a homely and comfortable house. So, let’s not get too bogged down in the disorganised bit.’
As soon as I said it, a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. I wasn’t living in the shadow of the label anymore. I was owning the label and putting into the context it deserved; one small part of a complicated, goofy, caring person who can have a foible or two!
None of us are perfect, but we do insist on placing some pretty heavy weights on the labels we carry. We are so much more than the quirks we have, or the things we are not so good at. And it is the entirety of us – the good, bad, and bit in between, that make us so wonderfully human.
My parents’ opinion has not changed about my inability to remember where my phone or keys are, but my relationship to it has. And that was all that was needed to embrace and love that side of me as much as all the other parts.
As a wise lady once told me ‘take the weights off your labels and put rocket fuel under them instead’.