For years, I’ve made lists. It’s almost OCD. As a kid, I remember writing lists about toys I wanted in order of its priority. A Barbie doll was always at the top. As I grew older, you know, about nine or ten years old, the list evolved to Americanized first names I wish I had – Jennifer, Stacy, Ashley. They sounded like the names of popular, blond girls who fit in and didn’t have to bring rice and fish to school for lunch. As a teen, the lists grew adventurous: boys I had crushes on, exciting things I’d like to do for Spring break.

I knew I wouldn’t get anything on the lists, but felt somehow having it written down eased the disappointment.

The more detailed the list the more soothing it was. I don’t work well with too much on my mind and lean on writing things out to help relieve the pressure. I’m a forgetful person – really, I have a terrible memory, and relish being prepared, finding comfort in planning.

Nowadays, I make lists about virtually anything on my mind – goals in life, wish lists, practical day-to-day errands, work stuff. A small journal I carry with me everywhere is chock full of lists from this year: exotic places I want to travel to and attractions I hope to see, things to bring on an up-coming trip to Vancouver, B.C. down to the number of cotton balls, Vietnamese dishes to practice, hobbies to pick up or a new skill to learn, things to repair and upgrade around the home, you name it.

Right now, I’m making a list of supplies to bring on a June camping trip. It would’ve been a typical three-page list as years before, but since I’ve watched survival shows lately, that might need to be re-tooled to include a magnesium lighter, a machete, and water filter.

I thought I was alone in this hobby – if you call it that – until a friend told me he makes lists, too. His camping list mirrored my own, except he’s more of a foodie and McGyverish. Last year he made panini sandwiches for us, complete with a portable grill and fresh ingredients. Later that day, he used ropes and climbing gear he brought to scale a cliff and build a shelter that shielded us from the sun’s rays. He said he spent weeks writing lists to prepare for the trip. He took pride in contributing something to the group.

We all have some kind of quirk. And while OCD can be a serious behavioral disorder, for most, it gives us character. My mentor enjoys canvassing thrift stores for interesting knick-knacks to decorate his plant-filled home; my husband goes for spontaneous road trips in the country; my sister clears her mind by meticulously cleaning her house, and a friend constantly adjusts his office furniture set-up to de-stress and stimulate his work environment.

Embrace your quirkiness. In a world where there’s pressure to fit in, it’s also where “fitting in” doesn’t have to be on the list.

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