Hiding from Your Crap? Why and How to Finally Just Deal With It Already
Crap is one of my favourite words. It's just so useful. You can use it to describe opinions or people you don't agree with, as in, what a pile of crap. Or you can use it to describe a group of items you can't be bothered to distinguish from one another, like, did you put all the camping crap in the car already? It's also handy as an expression of surprise (holy crap!) or disgust (crap!). I even have a bright pink pencil case with "CRAP" written just like that, in block letters, on the outside. Before you get distracted by why a 43-year old woman carries a pink pencil case around, let me provide the context for the crap in this post.
In this instance, crap refers to all the life-management-y tasks you're not dealing with that are getting in the way of you doing cooler things. Examples include such favourites as overdue library books, that storage unit that hemorrhages money each month (more on that later), a conversation you're avoiding, picking up or dropping off dry-cleaning, changing the oil in your car, returning a pair of shoes that don't fit, packing pretty much anything, re-negotiating your student line of credit, and taking all the boxes of donations in the back of your car to the donation place.
These kinds of craptastic examples are almost universally despised. Nevertheless, some people are very good at managing them. Unfortunately a lot of people are not, mostly because crap like this is no fun at all. BUT because you're not Arya from Game of Thrones and you can't just put on a new face so that crap can't recognize and/or kill you, it's time to stop hiding from your crap and face up to it.
Why You Should Stop Hiding from Crap
You know how literally everyone, including me, says small things add up to big progress? Well, sadly it works the same with the life's crap. If you let a bunch of little things or even a few medium-sized ones pile up they will turn into one big mess - and this mess takes over your brain. Are you having trouble sleeping? Do you keep pushing aside - for no apparent reason - starting your job search for reals or writing your blog or going for more walks with your husband or any of the things you actually want to do? Does your junk drawer look like where WALL-E lives? Side note: WALL-E was amazing at dealing with crap. Literally.
It seems trivial, your crap, but anything unresolved is using a shit-ton of your energy. The crap sits there, in your mind, taking up space whether you're consciously thinking about it or not. Your brain has a harder time focusing on the present or new info or awesome goals when it's full of old, unresolved...crap.
So let's stop the train right here, ok? Stop giving your energy to crap. You need to take care of it. Like, now. How can you expect to get that job you're dreaming about or do fun things or, god forbid, take care of yourself if you're worried about unpaid parking tickets and selling your roller skates and and and? Answer: you can't.
Believe me, I know. I spent the better part of 2 years spending almost $300 a month on a storage unit that was only supposed to be temporary because I didn't want to deal with it 🤦🏼♀️. After I finally bit the bullet, cleaned it out, and got rid of the damn thing, something magical happened. I got so much mental space back that I started a workout routine, began eating better, and ended up quitting a job that didn't serve me anymore. The mind works in mysterious ways. Help yours work for you way sooner than I did.
The Good News
You are not alone. Everyone (hello, did you read the previous paragraph?) has crap. EVERYONE. Even Beyoncé and the Queen of England have crap. Dealing with uncomfortable and annoying smaller things like ass-kicking adults gives us much-needed practice for dealing with uncomfortable big things like ass-kicking adults.
Once it's done you can celebrate. You'll have brain room again, not to mention the satisfaction of having put crap in its place. You will feel better, even if the thing you have to do is hard. I promise. I literally started on a new life course after the storage unit incident. Anything is possible.
Dealing with these things can be super-annoying and downright awful, but not nearly as awful as letting something fester. You know those nice people on medical dramas who wait until the tumour (not a typo; I'm Canadian) is the size of Rhode Island before going to the doctor because they "thought it might go away?" Yeah, it never goes away. It just gets worse and bigger and then you can't pee by yourself.
Your crap is your tumour. DEAL WITH IT before you have to take it to the ER and get looked at like a dork by a bunch of hot doctors, or worse, DIE.
P.S. those are my favourite episodes because freaky medical shit is my jam.
Change It Up
Behold - some practical tips for dealing with your crap.
Pre-book/pre-authorize/schedule regularly-occurring crap. This way it just happens and you don't really have to do anything but show up or make sure the money is where it should be (which you can also automate most of the time, FYI). Put recurring crap in your calendar and set reminders so you don't forget. When the day comes, DO IT.
When a piece of crap comes in, do NOT pretend it isn't there. Deal with it right away. You may be mad, but pay your ticket anyway. Pick up the phone or open your email and start the hard conversation. Putting crap off increases its relative importance in your life and gives power to the crap. When you deal with it, you keep the power. If you let it build up, that crap'll hold you and anything that's awesome you want to do hostage. NO.
Break down the bigger crap into manageable chunks. It might take you 3 full days to clean out your storage unit but you don't have 3 full days you can take off work? Fine. Break it down into smaller chunks but still be aggressive about the timelines. Crap are the things KEEPING YOU from focusing on your bigger goals, they're not the bigger goals themselves. So don't dilly-dally.
Better yet, get help with your crap. Sometimes we share crap, so delegate like a champ if possible. Can you outsource any of your crap? If so, it may be worth the cost to do so. For one-time-only crap, ask friends or pay strangers to lend a hand. Providing you're not a jerk, people will do quite a lot for beer and pizza. Show genuine gratitude and reciprocate and/or pay it forward when you can.
Look, the nature of crap is that it's gross and no fun. That makes it easily avoidable. But the space it takes up as far as mental energy goes is far more valuable than what you're gaining by not handling it, ok? If you have to spend a few hours after work every day for a week or one gloriously sunny afternoon or a weekend you'd rather be at the cottage to get your crap sorted out and open up your life, it's worth it.
Look at dealing with your crap like an investment. I'm pretty sure your piece of mind and newly found space to think about and plan and do awesome shit with your energy and life is a fair trade. So go out there, conquer your crap, and be amazing.
By the way, I originally wanted to title this post "Don't Let Your Zits Grow Up to Be Tumours: Managing Your Crap So it Doesn't Manage You." I hope now you understand why.
*Original Post June 20, 2018. Edited for context April 11, 2019.