on routines

It’s funny how a routine can feel both like a warm and snuggly baby blanket, designed to protect and keep you warm, but also like a wool turtleneck — it might have good intentions, but it just ends up making you feel suffocated (and damn itchy).

I live and die by my routines. Whether it’s some undiagnosed OCD or just your average acute need to control everything, my life just feels better when I have a routine. I do largely the same thing each day to prepare for work, down to the order in which I cleanse myself in the shower (hair, body, face). The slightest deviation from this plan — we’re out of soy milk — is enough to throw me off a bit for the rest of the day. I suppose I’ve devised most of these routines as a means to simplify my life; why spend time thinking about the minutiae when I can put that on auto-pilot and focus on the big things on my mind? But the unnerving thing is that internal struggle between the oh-so-orderly me and the can’t-we-just-throw-caution-to-the-wind-and-move-to-Croatia me. One can’t live without the other, but it’s anyone’s guess who’s driving this crazy train. Right now I feel so deeply stuck, so utterly locked into place, that some days it’s hard to breathe. But there’s comfort in that sameness, and I know that, in spite of my big talk with gesticulating body parts (so you know I mean business), I am afraid of what trying something new will do. Did I already have my chance to be that person who made it in the big city in a fantastic coat for every occasion? Have I already resigned myself to be Mrs. Routine — the person who finds simple joy in spending a day planning a trip to the market to make dinner for her husband? Or is there room for both?

Routines keep me functioning on the day-to-day. But they can’t silence that voice in my head telling me to go, do better, excel, never stop moving. So I do that, in the hopes that one day the thing I am meant to do will present itself so clearly I can’t help but notice. And then we’ll see if it’s the routine or the adventure that rules my life.

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