My friend Sarah and I had this conversation last week.
Sarah: “You should try to be spontaneous!”
Me: “I can be spontaneous. Let me know which day and for how long I should be spontaneous, so I can write it in my planner.”
I can’t help it. I just have this incessant need to be in design of my life.
My beloved agenda is filled with future plans, anniversaries, friends’ birthdays, vacations, and appointments. I love the feeling of flipping my planner to a particular month, and seeing the written notes I have like, “buy new contacts!” “send mom flowers!” or “contribute to RRSPs!”. It makes me feel like I’m the one holding the reins.
I am that friend who will message you and ask you not to plan your birthday party on a certain weekend because I am out of town, 2-3 months in advance. (You haven’t even started thinking about it at this point, let alone your invite list.)
I am that friend who will message girlfriends overseas and ask them which year, hypothetically, they would like to marry their new serious boyfriend so I can allocate vacation time and start saving. (You’ve been dating for a year and haven’t even thought of marriage, but you know – hypothetically, is there a year you prefer? Spring or fall wedding?)
While this may seem a little self-centered, I believe I’m actually acting in my friend’s best interest. How disappointing is it when you plan your birthday or important event, only to find out someone you care about cannot attend? I think with enough advance notice, situations like this can be completely avoided. In fact, I would venture that by not giving people enough advance notice, you’re not really considerate of them at all.
As long as it’s planned, I can do things I don’t like to do. (Like pap tests) But if it’s not planned and spontaneous, even things I love doing can create a great deal of stress. For example, winning a pair of tickets to a concert or a hockey game that same night or weekend would be amazing for a lot of people, but not at all for me. Now I’m faced with the bothersome task of either cancelling whatever plans I originally had – or I have to spend the time to sell the tickets.
Even ‘unplanned time’ for me has structure. If I have a social engagement one night of the weekend, I tend to not go out the other night so I can have some ‘me time’. If I do go out both nights on a weekend, I need the following weeknights to be free to regain some mental space. Therefore, when I say, “I have no plans.” it’s typically more like, “I planned to not have any plans so I can read/write/watch a documentary/listen to kpop/etc.”
In my ideal world, I would love for everyone to be planned and we could be a lot more efficient and get more things done.
Alas, not everyone plans their life to the degree that I do, and when I find myself waiting on other people to make a decision, it gives me a great deal of anxiety. Now I’m not the one holding the reins. Now the person I’m waiting on is in control. My schedule is stuck in limbo, neither planned nor unplanned, until this person gets back to me.
Now imagine if something else comes up during that point like a work opportunity. I’m held captive by Schrodinger’s plan and it creates a backlog where I cannot confirm or decline my own activities!!! This is a nightmare! Why can’t the other person just make up their mind? What the heck are they waiting on? Why can’t they be more decisive? Of course, it’s impossible and also nosy to know in some situations, so I just have to be patient (oh woe is me) and wait it out.
While a part of me recognizes how anal I must seem to unscheduled/spontaneous people. I don’t see any reason to change my behavior. By being planned, I can go out the amount that I like, I can attend the concerts I like, I can work as much as possible in order to have the money to spend as I like, I can meet my goals as I like, I can make time for loved ones as I like. I believe that I am also a good daughter/spouse/friend, because I already planned for the birthdays and anniversaries of my loved ones and I arrange my own schedule in deference to their special days. Of course things come up that I can’t plan for, but I do what I can to minimize the unknown.
Sure, being spontaneous may mean others are able to grab opportunities that I don’t, (like winning last minute tickets) but I’m happy to make that trade off in order to be in more control. And I’d like to think that if I wanted to go so badly in the first place, I could’ve just set aside money and purchased the tickets myself.
By being planned, I can give my time to others if I please, but few people can take my time from me.
Do you agree with my rationale? Or if you are a spontaneous person, what do you enjoy about being spontaneous? What am I missing out on?