Confessions of an OCD Adventurer
Updated: Jul 13
Who I am and who I wish to be are often at war with one another. On the surface, to many, I appear as a whimsical, free-spirited, spontaneous, carefree, adventure seeker. The more someone gets to know me, the more they realize how much thinking, planning, strategizing, researching, overthinking, brainstorming, googling, staring off into space, ruminating, imagining, worrying, and obsessing goes into every little decision I make. Imagine the characters Phoebe and Monica from the T.V. series, Friends, merged together...That is me. These traits are my greatest strengths and my worst struggles. Trip planning is no exception. And for whatever reason, despite my best planning efforts to prevent chaos, it still manages to slip through, as discussed in my recent blog posts: When the Adventure Unravels and Plan do and Review.
I try to fight it. I really do. And while I am not of the OCD type that needs to have my bed made or fine-tune every little aspect of my day or obsessively clean, I am one that must have everything "just so" before leaving the house for a getaway, including making my bed before leaving. I often need conditions to be "right" before trying something spontaneous. Is that even spontaneity?
My OCD tendencies cause me to hyperfocus on one specific aspect and turn over every detail to the point I reach burn out and then I have nothing left. I will spend so much energy in my head that when it comes time to take action, I am too exhausted to take it. I will take on multiple projects and endeavors, become consumed with them all, and then fizzle out and want to run away. And this house flooding renovation thing that has been going on for nearly a year? Well, let's not talk about that... I'm sure you can imagine the toll it has taken.
But here is what is going on today...just today.
I have googled the weather map several times to look for somewhere, anywhere, that is within a 5-hour radius that is cooler than where I am. We have been in a heat wave of over 100 degrees heat index for several weeks now and I have avoided going outside as much as humanly possible. I am not even letting my cats outside. My cats have been going through the cat door and hiding in the garage because that's their version of outside right now. I repeatedly try to coax them in because I can't just leave them be as I worry it is too hot for them. Meanwhile, as I am obsessively checking the weather, I am googling state parks nearby that might have a swimming hole. I found a few promising locations, but I remembered I have clothes in the dryer and clothes in the washer. The clothes have been in the washer since yesterday, I rationalize that I will have to rewash them and fluff the clothes that have been in the dryer for three days. I put my hair up in a messy bun to tackle things around the house so that I may leave the house for the weekend, and then realize that I need to do even another load of laundry because my shorts haven't been washed. And it's blazing hot weather...gotta have shorts. While I am sorting all this out in my mind on how could I possibly leave my house when I have all this laundry to redo and no shorts to wear, I remembered that I have a large sink sitting in the back seat of my vehicle that I picked up from Home Depot earlier today. Do I really want to go outside and take it out of the car and bring it into the house? And what about my cats? Boo and Charlie do not get along. I cannot leave them all here. I will have to take Charlie on trips with me because she doesn't like me to leave her, even though she isn't a fan of road trips either. I remembered I need to work on my websites this weekend as I have several tasks to complete. After all this, I go back to my computer and google more state parks. I see Charlie lying on the rug in my bedroom with her toys, and I decided to lie down with her on the rug. The flurry of thoughts in just the two hours of considering the possibility of taking a weekend trip exhausted me.
Thus inspiring this very blog post.
The picture I took of Charlie and me lying on the rug, almost didn't get taken because I had left my pop socket ring in the car that I would normally use to prop my camera for these types of pictures. But I took the picture anyway without forcing myself to go to the car to get the ring or giving up altogether. I consider that a win.
What is the answer? How does someone push past these barriers that serve to limit instead of empowering adventure? How does one navigate the lines between realism, optimism, and pessimism; spontaneity and strategy; tending to obligations or putting them off? What is important? What is not? What matters? What doesn't?
I can't say that I have it all figured out because I am certain I have taken more trips in my head than have actually been carried out due to my own analysis paralysis. However, I am striving to shake up my existence a bit, but even that concept turns into its own new all-consuming endeavor. Trying to not try so hard. See what I mean?
It's late afternoon and the laundry didn't get done...yet. The sink is still in my car. And it looks like my state park adventure isn't happening this weekend.
But hey, I channeled a blog post out of it. That is something.
What I can suggest to you, is if you find yourself struggling with the same tendencies, the best way to break out of the hamster wheel of thoughts is to fix your gaze on something and use it to ground yourself. For me, today, it was the rug. After looking at the rug, walking over to the rug, sitting on the rug, and running my fingers through the fibers in the rug, I was able to go somewhere different in my mind, play with my cat, snap a picture, title a blog post, and go back to my computer and crank out the words. I would like to say the laundry is done, the sink is out of my back seat, and my bag is packed for a spontaneous road trip, but that isn't the case today. I still think it is too hot and the conditions aren't "just right," but I am a step closer to breaking out of my limiting patterns by recognizing what I am doing and how I am getting in my own way.
Hopefully, tomorrow, next week, next weekend, or sometime soon I will have a blog post about another travel experience. For now, this will have to do, and I am learning to be okay with choosing to not try so hard to make something perfect before taking action...like this post.
Where do you trip yourself up? Get in your own way? How do you ground yourself and redirect? Let me know in the comments!