Wednesday, May 7, 2008

CNP - A New Label for Me

So, I’m on sick leave, and the being unwell doesn’t annoy me so much as the not-being-in-the-classroom part of this whole “leave” business. And sadly, I don’t miss the class, activity, or colleagues so much...rather, I’m annoyed that someone else’s hand-writing is on the whiteboard, scissors probably aren’t returned to the scissor box, StudentX has two rotten sandwiches in his desk by now, and no one is updating the “Today Board” with what the day is an anniversary of, a new Far Side cartoon, and the “date” cards (laminated, in my “Today Board Box”). The thought that students are in fact writing the wrong date into their books, and then correcting each other, (or not, even worse), causes me distress.

Don’t even get me started on what weeks without laminating feels like.

Last week I ventured out into the cold to get to school and lay out notes, resources, and information for the relieving teacher to be in my classroom.

Not only did I carefully highlight points within my notes to correspond by colour with the colours of the post-its atop each pile of my desk, I made sure the resources, as needed to complete the activities described, were chronologically in order from left to right in respect to when they would be required. I then checked all items on my desk were at right angles to the desk edges, and each other, and that equal distance was between each item.

I was satisfied.

As my finger lay on the light switch by the door, I turned and surveyed the classroom before leaving, and then switched the lights out.

That was when I first realised I needed a name for my behaviour.

This realisation resurfaced today, as I emailed my relief notes for the next two days (and lamented they would not be printed in colour, will most likely not be stapled in the corner on the correct angle, or be 2-sided).

For a long time I’ve wondered how to describe some of my “tendencies”. They’re not rare, they’re not particularly impressive, and they’re not always consistent…but they surface regularly.

Perhaps due, in part, to these tendencies, I feel they deserve a name, so that I can acknowledge their existence when observed by others – with a dismissive title. It is so with other things – for example, “No thank you, I don’t drink coffee, no, not tea either. Yes, that’s right, I’m a Mormon”.

I’m sure there are plenty of liberal folks, perhaps with names for themselves ending with “ist”, that would criticise the fact that I am, in fact, seeking yet another label for myself. But I do so want one, and an appropriate one. Today I realised I am not confidently acquainted with all of the options.

This realisation demanded a remedy.

I think it is important to note that I am not always in this mode. There are a number of areas I don’t mind if things are not “just so”. My home is NOT immaculate very often, my mending pile is growing, and my photos are not in albums. (CNP demands that on 19 July 2009 I return to this post to add to this paragraph, that since I stopped working full-time at school, my house is almost always immaculate, my mending pile is gone, and my photos are regularly put into albums. Perhaps I don't have CNP. It was time-deprived OCD.)

The options, as I see it (in a particular order…because I like things to be in order, after all):

- Pedant

- Normal Perfectionist

- Neurotic Perfectionist

- Anal-retentive

- Obsessive-compulsive

Shakespeare used the term “pedant” to mean “teacher”, so perhaps it is fitting. It is apparently someone “overly concerned with formalism and precision…whose tone is perceived as condescending.”1

Apparently there are “normal” perfectionists – people who derive a sense of pleasure from painstaking effort while accepting personal and situational limitations.

Neurotic perfectionists, on the other hand, have an intense need to avoid failure.2

Those described as anal-retentive (immediately less appealing for having Freudian roots), have “such attention to detail that the obsession becomes an annoyance to others, and can be carried out to the detriment of the anal-retentive person.”3

I have already ruled out OCD (although my friends joke about it). While I must admit I peeled paint off a store sign because an apostrophe didn't belong in "Open 7 Day's" (no one was there, or I would have asked!), I wouldn't say I have rituals and compulsions that soothe a serious anxiety.

What baffles me is how I can be neurotic about some things and nonchalant about others. I am neurotic about my desk at school, but nonchalant about the state of one of the bookshelves in the office right now. Okay, not completely nonchalant, or that example would not have come to me so readily, or brought with it a sense of urgency that I shouldn’t have such a shelf.

I hereby dub myself a “Compartmentalised Neurotic Perfectionist”. This is me. I have learned to “let go” of a lot of things, because I can see what harm it might bring me or others. In realms where I deem it beneficial, or with no affect on others, I allow myself to be as neurotic as I like.

Well, now as I re-fold towels Haki has folded, clip my fingernails short so dirt cannot be lodged there, update my personal “spelling” list, and save my files by reverse numerical date formats, I’ll think “neurosis now, nonchalance later”. Wait, is that a ritual?
Related Posts with Thumbnails