I spent a fair amount of this summer at my neighborhood pool, which offered a surprising lesson in human behavior. The way I see it, there are two types of swimmers: the cannon ballers and the toe dippers.
The cannon ballers jump into any given situation without hesitation. Risk is a part of life, and they embrace it. Run, jump, splash. They create ripples that reach all the way to the other side of the pool.
Then, there are the toe dippers–the people who need more time to adjust to change. They grip the metal bar along the pool stairs, lowering themselves into the water one step at a time until they finally get used to the temperature. Meanwhile, the surface of the water remains undisturbed around them.
I’m a toe dipper, through and through. I don’t like to create waves. Rather, I prefer to ease into each new situation, even if that situation is simply facing a new day. While my husband springs out of bed, ready to seize whatever comes his way, I need a transition period to wakefulness.
However, this isn’t for lack of trying to be just the opposite. I want to be spontaneous, the kind of free-spirited person who is always up for a change of plans or an impromptu adventure. Yet, no matter how hard I try, I still find myself reverting to my toe dipping ways: weighing options, making schedules, packing accordingly.
Cannon balling appeals to me more in concept than practice. When I do fly by the seat of my pants, the thrill is often trumped by anxiety. I don’t like to feel out of control. I find great comfort in knowing what to expect. By trying to be someone I’m not, I tend to make myself miserable.
Since starting this blog, I’ve been thinking a lot about predispositions, namely how some people are prone to tidiness, while others find it to be a chore (no pun intended). After my post about forming new habits, I really began to consider the difficulties involved in changing one’s natural tendencies…and whether this should be done at all in certain instances.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m all for self-improvement. (Note: I use “self-improvement” for lack of a better word and cringe because it places too much emphasis on self. I’ve found my best personal improvements come when I focus upward instead of inward.) I don’t want to stagnate as a person. Life offers too many opportunities to grow and learn. But I don’t consider it “self-improvement” if that change comes at the expense of happiness, if it means pretending to be someone else, if it means stifling who God purposed me to be.
God created us all to be individuals. We should embrace that fact. To be honest, I’m still struggling to internalize this truth. I constantly compare myself to others and come up lacking. My Facebook feed is a full color reminder of my own perceived shortcomings. I’m not ________ enough. After a quick scroll past my friends’ photos, there’s a multitude of words I could use to fill in that blank.
I’m still learning to embrace the person God created me to be. More often than I care to admit, I’m embarrassed by my propensity for cleanliness. In fact, that’s why it took me years to work up the courage to create this blog. I’ve always wanted to combine my passion for writing and organization, but I was afraid of what people might think. Would I be viewed as neurotic and uptight? What if people considered me strange?
Perhaps some readers do view me that way. But you know what? The joy I get from writing this blog far outweighs any fear. I’m so glad I took the plunge (perhaps there is a bit of a cannon baller in me, after all).
But I digress…the point I’m trying to make is this: God has a purpose in creating each of us. He took great care to make you the way that you are. Find joy in being you; don’t make yourself miserable by trying to be someone you’re not. If you’re not a naturally tidy person, don’t beat yourself up. There’s merit in both cleanliness and messiness. (Messiness often breeds the best sort of creativity!)
But no matter how clean or messy one might be, we all have housework. And I want to encourage everyone to take pride in that endeavor, while also remembering it will look different for each person. I know I sound like a broken record, but I’ll repeat it yet again: Find what works for you, and be satisfied.
Whether you’re tidy or messy, a cannon baller or a toe dipper, there’s one thing I think we can all agree on: It’s not about how you get into the pool. The important thing is that you get in. Now, start swimming, and find your own stride!
“The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” -Job 33:4, NIV
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” -Psalm 139:13-14, NIV
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” -Ephesians 2:10, ESV