I’m one of those people with an A-Type personality. I love lists. All the lists, all the time. If I don’t have a list, I feel like I’m drowning in things to do and it makes me feel sweaty and nervous. Even if I only have 5 things to do, the absence of the to-do list drives me nuts.
When I go to bed at night I know I’ll spend at least an hour laying there half-asleep and half-awake, going through ideas and lists and other things in my mind. It’s my sacred planning and organising time and it’s often where my best ideas spring up. It’s like a guilty little OCD treat that I relish each evening. I’m a closet thinker.
I also get sick at the thought of being late or delaying somebody. Do you guys get that too? I love it when other people are the same. One of Matt’s best friends is like me and when we arrange to have lunch together both of us are always 10 minutes early and neither of us feels weird about it. Even when I’m going to be dead on time I always text him to tell him, because I know that he’ll know that’s a bit stressful according to our early-arrival books. We always feel relieved when we see each other too, because it’s a moment of, ‘Yea, you get it. You know what it’s like, that’s why you’re here so early and I bloody love you for it. Thank you for being weird like me.’
It’s really, really stressful and I get easily wound up just imagining being late. I feel tense right now just writing about it and it isn’t even happening. I also have great time management skills and I’m really good at planning ahead, thinking through a situation and preparing for it in advance.
All of these things mean my travel plans usually go really smoothly; I pack really well and am prepared for most situations. BUT it also has its challenges too.
Last week our travel plans completely changed. We were set to go back to Brisbane but got an offer to go to Thailand. So, we decided to extend our stay and completely change all of our travel plans and make some new ones. This kind of situation is a real minefield for all my weird traits. The adventurous part of me is really excited and loves the sudden change, but the super organised part of me is trying to go into overdrive and plan the living daylights out of it when it’s just not possible.
Letting go of all the things out of my control has been a massive learning curve for me and I guess situations like the one this week are there to test me and push me to learn and grow. It’s also a huge part of why Matt and I are so good together. I speed him up and he slows me down. Balance.
This whole change in my life, from my old job to my dream career, has been one big lesson in patience and trust. The A-Type part of me has wanted to do everything possible to organise and expedite and plan and create, but those are only part of the process. The other part of it is being patient and having the trust that everything is coming together at exactly the right time in exactly the right order.
Sometimes I have thoughts where I wonder what I could do more or what I could change when really the answer is to stop those thoughts altogether. Instead of wondering why something isn’t exactly where I’d like it to be, the better approach is to be content with where it is and patiently, but joyfully, be ready to receive the next phase as it is delivered to me.
There are so many things out of our control and assuming we can change all of them is a quick way to mess with your mind and put a lot of guilt and blame on yourself. Truth is, you just can’t control everything. From time to time I have to stop and actively say to myself, “Let go of everything beyond your control, focus only on what you can control… Yourself.” It may seem pretty basic to a lot of people, but if you’re anything like me, that kind of thinking is a really big deal and something you have to work to change.
Shifting your focus to be on finding the calmness and stillness within you makes a huge difference to adapting to the things you can’t change or control. Rather than thinking ‘I haven’t booked a hotel yet,’ focusing on something like, ‘Thailand is beautiful and I’m so grateful to be going there,’ can change your whole perspective and gives you peace. I guess it’s about focusing on the fact it’s happening, rather than the feeling that it isn’t. Note the words I used there. The fact it is happening and the feeling it isn’t. Know it is happening, deep within you, and it will.
Changing my mindset like this and realising I’m in complete control of how I act and react has given me the chance to learn how to be calm and cool in these situations. It’s still a challenge every time it happens and I’m sure one day I’ll be able to do it on auto-pilot, but at the moment I’m still learning and I’m really proud of how far I’ve come.
I’ll always still be early to things and I’ll definitely always still text people and tell them I’m running late, even if I’m going to be dead on time because that’s just who I am. But I’ll also be able to look around me and be totally content with exactly where I am in my journey, knowing I’m in the perfect place at the perfect time and everything I desire in life is working its way to me at this moment. There’s no rush, because you can’t be late, or even early, for your own life. It always happens exactly when and as it should.
Phoebe Lee is a travel writer and award-winning blogger with a love for storytelling. Phoebe creates practical, fun and engaging written content designed to inspire and energise travel-lovers and dreamers. Follow her and Matt’s adventures at home and around the world, right here on Little Grey Box and through Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.