Embarrassing Secrets of a Recovering Perfectionist

During my first month as a freshman at Vassar College, one of my hallmates caught me folding my dirty laundry.

Yes, you read that right – I folded my dirty laundry before placing it in the collapsible navy-blue mesh hamper at the foot of my bed. It was a nervous habit that gave me a sense of control in an unfamiliar place.

Of course I didn’t want anyone to know about my odd practice, so I flushed with embarrassment when my hallmate said, “Caroline, did you seriously just fold those pajamas before putting them into your hamper?”

My hallmate’s tone was more amused than accusatory, but even so, I felt like hiding under the bed.

“Yeah, I did. You got me. I’m a total neat freak,” I said, trying to laugh it off. I swallowed hard and tried to push aside the critical voice inside my head that said, You’re so weird! Why can’t you be normal? What’s wrong with you?

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They Tried to Make Me Go To Rehab, and I Said Yes.

Friends, do you remember back in March when I wrote to you – albeit indirectly – about the blizzard that hit my life?

I’d prefer to keep that crisis vague and metaphorical; it suffices to say that I went through something tough. That’s one reason why I’ve been quieter than usual on the blog this year. (That, and writing a book.)

When I wrote about the hard time, I described it as “a slow-motion train wreck with no end in sight”, and it was. But there was still hope. I just couldn’t see it.

First, I needed to take a trip to rehab … but not for the reasons that you might imagine!

Despite the cheeky post title, no one but me “tried to make me go to rehab”. I sent myself there, and it was one of the best choices I’ve ever made.

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Feeling Judged and Controlled? Question Your Inner Cruise Director

When Jonathan and I went on a cruise to Bermuda with my family several years ago, the piped-in, controlled voice of Cruise Director Carlos drove me crazy.

Now, this was a lovely cruise. It was a privilege to relax and have my towels folded into animal shapes every night.

However, the oft-repeated, overly-enthusiastic announcements just did not work for me. (I’m an introvert who jumps like a startled deer at the sound of a ring tone.)

Several times a day, Cruise Director Carlos would blast over the loudspeakers, reading the rundown of social events with forced good cheer. After a few days, it really got on my nerves.

Here he was trying to make sure we didn’t miss a single opportunity for happiness, when we were so much happier left to our own devices.

By the end of the trip, I’d clench my fists at the sound of Carlos’s voice. But why was I ticked off at this upbeat guy who was just doing his job?

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