It's pretty obvious judging by my books 52 Lists Project and 52 Lists for Happiness that lists are not only fun for me but really ground me and make me feel more balanced, focused and fulfilled in who I am. When my depression and anxiety feel really strong, I turn to lists to feel more centered. And during the summer, my depression and anxiety usually are the worst because I get kind of overwhelmed by the activities of summer, the desire to get outside while I still have so much work to indoors, and I miss the ease and freedom of summers as a kid a lot. I miss the time I had to just daydream and come up with... you guessed it, lists. I was a massively shy child and spent a lot of time alone, for better or for worse. I was super spacey (still am) thanks to ADD and just being a creative spirit and because school was a challenge for me, I was grounded pretty much every weekend of high school for not finishing all my work. I'm an introvert through and through and I can get lost exploring my own mind for hours. I was diagnosed with ADD around age 6, then again in middle school and again in high school. It's a daily challenge to battle ADD with depression and anxiety. But because I've dealt with all of them so long, I've had time to practice and discover what works best for me in managing all of those difficult aspects of self. List making is my major tool not just for daily task management but even more importantly, my self management, self discovery, exploration, and self investment.
At the end of high school, I started this little book documenting all of the lists that I wanted to invest in and discover as a way to better get to know who I was and what I loved, what connected with my heart and truest self. I don't think I've ever shared this on my blog, but it's one of my most special possessions. And please humor me in how serious I was about discovering what was cool to me as a teen. I wish I could insert a gif of me cringing here, haha. I just made these lists as a way to research and discover what felt like a reflection of who I am and what I love. To note: I don't like all of the musicians, books, movies, etc on these lists but I DID discover some that have become life long favorites through these lists. The exploration of this little book of lists, going through each list over a summer spent mostly in my bedroom at age 18 was so fulfilling for me. And I'd give a bajillion bucks to get to have a full summer like that again, before social media came about, before my cell phone had color or video on it, and the pressure to be a certain way, look a certain way, and act a certain way became so pervasive online.
This is the notebook. It's tiny and the pages are super ratty and messy. But it's like a little time capsule of me as a teen trying to discover who I was and what defined me. If someone ever steals this from my house I will hunt them down and whatever happens to them, it will not be pretty. JK, Im not serious... or am I?
I spent the entire summer of my 18th year pretty much in my bedroom reading, watching movies that I'd researched, listening to music and searching my local libraries for all of the above. The other part of the time I spent working at a local coffeeshop making garbage coffee drinks (I don't drink coffee and my skills were not the best, ha!!) and making out with my high school boyfriend, hehe. Ahhh introverted youth. Here are some of the books from my list that I have opinions on today:
- Thanks to this notebook of lists I totally fell in love with Haruki Murakami's books and realized that magical realism was my favorite genre. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle was the first book by Murakami that I read and I think it's still my favorite, or maybe Kafka on the Shore.
- Cathedral by Raymond Carter was another book that I fell in love with thanks to my list of book research. I love short stories, especially ones that have some surrealism like ALL of Franz Kafka's work. All of iiiiiit.
- Siddhartha is an all time favorite along with some other books by Herman Hesse like Steppenwolf. My dad gave me a copy of Steppenwolf around this time when he saw all the types of books that I was pounding like they were candy. Get ready for a somewhat dark, philosophical and contemplative journey if you are going down the Herman Hesse path. The end of Steppenwolf also is one of the trippiest things I've ever read, fair warning. Herman Hesse's work was some of the first work that I read at a young age that was very deep and dark, containing poetic storytelling that explored the search for the authentic self and self knowledge. I think it deeply influenced the person that I am today, why I focus on self knowledge above all else, and why I love writing.
USED TO LOVE BUT NO LONGER LIKE / NEVER ENJOYED
- Choke, and all of Chuck Palahniuk's work. Oh man, I loved it all when I was 17 and 18. It felt so daring and dark. But now that I'm older and a little more comfortable with how boring I am, I just don't find any of his books entertaining anymore. It's a little too much for my sensitive spirit.
- I remember trying to read Dave Eggers A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius but I couldn't stand it. I guess because I had experienced a lot of trauma in my childhood too, I just couldn't relate to the way he became self destructive and shitty towards women. Not like I am a saint and handled my own trauma well, I just went the polar opposite direction and self imploded with self hate and isolation. Oh I could go deep into that, but to keep this a little lighter, I don't dig his writing but I do love and respect his program 826 which does incredible things for kids in the most charming ways. The Seattle location of 826 changed to a new name The Bureau Of Fearless Ideas. See, look at all this stuff you can learn just from writing a list! I learned about his book, and then more about his as an author and activist and philanthropist, and then his amazing organization, and then how the Seattle location has changed and grown, and how he and I relate in some traumas but channeled it different ways... All of that from writing a list and being open to still learning about an author even though I didn't like one book I read. Lists are rad.
- After reading The Grapes of Wrath in high school, I just couldn't do East of Eden though I know a lot of people who adore the book. I can't do John Steinbeck. Sorry!
It's really fun for me reflecting on the lists that fill up this goofy little notebook. So I think I might post more lists from inside it's pages. What do you think?