To-Do Lists and Anxiety

I’ve made a ton of To-Do lists over the years and every single of them has ended up in the garbage can, and very of them ever had all the items crossed off. So why did I make them in and why did I want to throw them out as soon as I made them?

The answer to the first question is pretty obvious as I was trying to figure out what I needed to do and bring some organization to my life. The answer to the second question is this: whenever something crashed into my life and forced me away from the To-Do list, I focused on that crashing item and nothing else. So when I went back to my To-Do list, I kicked the crap out of myself for not keeping to it despite whatever calamity was crashing through my life. I figured that if I could multi-task through a calamity then I should be able deal with the calamity and my own life at the same time.

I felt like the calamity at hand deserved all of my attention, even when it wasn’t needed. And if during said-calamity I felt like doing something I wanted to do, I instantly felt guilty. That guilt would in turn set off a lovely round of ass-kicking myself that always ended with me in a bloody heap. Now I know that sounds harsh but so many times over the years I have felt tremendous guilt for doing what I wanted to do instead of what I felt like had to be done, or what other people wanted me to do.

Now recently I haven’t felt that level of guilt and anxiety but this morning I felt a frisson of it and that’s why I’m writing this out here. One thing about anxiety is moving past the shame and guilt behind it to talk it out and work through it. This is hard for me to write but I know it’s necessary. In fact, I had to tell myself that the guilt-shame voice of anxiety is a lying sack of shit. Because I think anxiety is something that you don’t ever completely get rid of, but just work through and deal with some days more than others.

Over the last year I’ve proved to myself that I can survive without a regular, sit-down day job. Now I just need to move on to the next stage, and that’s what that To-Do List is about. And I don’t care what calamity comes crashing through my life, I’m going to keep working on those To-Do list items. Because the only reason a To-Do list should end up in the garbage is if every item is checked off.

I think I’ll frame mine when it’s done. 😊

Here’s the sign that’s pinned above the To-Do List by my desk:

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