THE MUSEUM OF ABSURD FEARS
EXHIBIT #06 – Subtle Synesthesia

 

FEAR OF THE WEEK: Making a decision about how to color-code my calendar

 

Schedules, like gender, are a social construct that are imposed upon us through a loosely defined criteria that is honestly rather arbitrary. All this to say that that my grand scheme of posting these every Saturday is unlikely to sustain, so we’re just gonna keep aiming for 1 a week, roughly, depending on how everything else is going. This week, let’s go with something a little more light-hearted than last entry’s self-deprecation and personal failures, eh?

When I was growing up, as a homeschooled kid, my curriculum packets were color-coded in a spectrum that happened to match the spectrum that a lot of spiral-bound notebooks come in – red, yellow, green, blue, purple –  and if I needed a miscellaneous notebook, black. Of course, I have always had a very strong sense of #aesthetic,* so I made sure to color-coordinate my notebooks, and my post-its, and my highlighters, and so each particular color ended up being distinctively tied to that subject. In middle and and high school, when I moved from homeschooling to a slightly cult-y religiously-affiliated private school, I continued my original color-coding scheme, despite the fact that it didn’t always match to the textbooks that my new curriculum used. By this point, you see, it was no longer about aesthetic…these subjects were these colors. What I did not realize until much later, thanks probably to the terrifying bowels of the internet known as Tumblr, was not only that other people did this, but took it really really seriously. Like, ugly-name-calling-in-the-comments-fights-about-what-color-maths-is seriously.** So clearly, I was, and am, not alone in color having strong significance.

Now that I am finally out of school,*** the color-association game has manifested itself into other facets of my life. While my physical notebooks are usually now black or purple and serving as catch-alls, I do tend to assign each play or writing project a color that I think of it in, a holdover from when I was still storing all my notes and research in OneNote. Now, as I slowly move everything over to Drive files, the colors still pop up here and there, but less prominently than they once did. However, there is one place where I cannot escape the color-based system…

Google Calendar.

Now, here’s the thing you have to understand about how I use the ol’ GCal: I survive entirely on part-time and freelance gig-based employment, including 3-4 regular employers and an ongoing rotation of random gigs. In a noble effort to make sure I always show up at the right place on the right day at the right time, I generally give each regular gig its own color-specific calendar, plus a few floating options for one-offs, personal appointments, and so on. This entire system evolved out of an attempt to alleviate my anxiety about missing scheduled dates or being late, but it has created a whole new problem in the form of color-coding.

As I’ve hopefully made clear in these silly musings, I very strongly associate colors to organizational structures. It makes it easy for me to understand the concept of synesthesia, a perceptual phenomenon where certain cognitive pathways lead involuntarily to alternate secondary pathways, such as perceiving letters and numbers as having inherent colors. I don’t have this condition, but it makes sense to me as I spend hours every week staring at schedules and trying to make sense of them. I would love to choose the easy and logical route of picking colors that match, say, the logos of the institutions for which I work…sadly, they all seem to be red and black, which does little to allow me to differentiate them from one another. Instead, I try to employ a slightly more random system based simply on a color palette that I don’t hate staring at, but even then I constantly question my choices. What if I get more work than I expect from the Green job, and it starts to overwhelm the Blue job? I made that gig Orange because I don’t take it much, so if it suddenly becomes full-time do I risk changing the color or just suck up the glare of the warm palette? Does the lack of Purple bode ill for my social life?

This hangup about calendar colors seems to get right to the heart of the whole idea of absurd fears. It’s entirely inconsequential, and entirely within my own control, and yet I just wrote an entire blog post musing about the level of anxiety it causes me. Whelp, what doesn’t kill me will at least keep me on-time for work, I guess.

 

———-

 

* Even if the actual choices I made were dubious – there was a long phase of ribbons worn as chokers, and an even longer phase of long-sleeve shirts under tee-shirts, both of which were tragically photo-documented if you dig hard enough.

** Maths is red, in case you were wondering.

*** For now…

THE MUSEUM OF ABSURD FEARS
EXHIBIT #05 – Missing the Mark

 

FEAR OF THE WEEK: Giving up the second I miss the mark once.

 

So, I missed my usual Saturday deadline this last week. Which was…honestly, probably for the best, on a personal level, for multiple reasons:

  • First off, I missed it because I had a writing deadline for a project that I have been struggling to be excited about, but I made a point of using some unexpected free time in the last week to ensure I hit it.*
  • Second, while this was not a reason that I missed it, it was probably good for me to realize at 10:30pm on Saturday night that I was not going to get anything written, or posted, and that that was okay.

Part of the reason I started this project, silly as it is,** was simply for the discipline of making myself write something, basically anything, every week, and put it somewhere publicly visible in order to hold myself accountable. And honestly? I’m pretty proud of myself for managing to hit my arbitrarily chosen deadline for the entire month of January, which makes it a bit easier to forgive myself for being late on this 5th entry.

My mom made a point to me once, that as a kid, and specifically a hyper-perfectionistic one, I had developed the habits of either waiting until the last minute to do thing so that I could forgive myself if they weren’t perfect (see: 95% of papers I wrote during my 10+ years of college) or giving up as soon as things got difficult (see: piano, gymnastics, soccer***, modeling ****, etc.) On a certain level, I suppose it was good that this was brought to my attention so that I could be aware of this tendency in myself and try to take measures against it. On the other side, I sort of wish I had never realized this, or come to the realization on my own, because now I over analyse everything I do, or consider doing, against this metric.

So this is the point where normally this project would die. Where I would decide it’s too hard, it’s unforgiving, it’s unsustainable, I missed one and will obviously miss more so why bother, etc. But the whole point here was to try to get outside my comfort zone and commit to something long-term. And let’s  be real: I know that for all the folks who “like” my Facebook post with the links to these things, maaaybe 20% of those folks click-through and read the whole thing.***** But, the whole point was for me to make a personal commitment to this messy, vulnerable, soul-baring idea of writing a weekly post about some stupid thing that preoccupies my brain, without getting too obsessed with the perfectionistic need to have it read or acknowledged by anyone other than myself.

And so, here it is. Late, boring, and maybe less absurd than I’d like it to be, but necessary. I’m gonna keep writing these, and talking about them, whether anyone pays attention or not. And sometimes they’re gonna be late, and I’m giving myself permission for that to be okay. Because honestly, if I keep giving up even when something is as inconsequential as this dumb blog, how will I get anything else done?

 

———-

 

* I actually didn’t hit it. My draft was due by 1 Feb, however you interpret that, and I sent it at like 3pm on 2 Feb because I have a lot of internal and external struggle with deadlines right now. Thankfully, none of the folks expecting it were mad about it…at least, not to my email-face.

** And oh lordy, I know it is very silly.

*** I mean, I guess technically breaking my wrist also played a large part in this, but that might just be me trying to make myself feel like less of a loser.

**** Yes I took a single class and I’m still traumatized shut up.

***** And I’m not hating on that; I’ve analysed a lot of social media engagement metrics in my years of managing pages and I totally understand.