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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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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The Only Life You Can Save.

What if the only life you can save is your own?

Something happened to friends of mine this past week. I won’t go into detail, because it is not my story to tell. The short version is: People I love are being unjustly excluded. And I’m angry about it.

Writing that last sentence is a big deal for me. See, for a long time I was convinced that feeling anger meant that I was a ‘bad’ person, lacking in compassion. And I wanted so much to be (and to be seen as) ‘good’. So whenever anger arose, I tried hard to make it go away.

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