Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Suitcase Full of Anxiety

I can't speak for anyone else in the population, but I assume [read: hope] I am not alone when I say that packing gives me extreme anxiety.  In fact, sometimes it causes me so much stress that I literally am forced to lay down.  I understand that it sounds extreme, but let's deconstruct the idea of packing, shall we.

When you are going on a trip, often times there is only a tentative or "loose" schedule of events.  This means that you are essentially packing for both this planned trip and all of the alternatives, at the same time.  Men may have less of a problem with this idea, but if you are a female and anything like me, this means options are needed.

My mother is not like me.  If she is going away for a week, she pulls out a suitcase (or maybe only a large backpack), places approximately 3-4 bottoms, 5-6 tops, 1 pair of shoes and enough under garments and toiletries to get her through; she probably takes longer and deliberates more on choosing what goes in her carry-on than on anything that will clothe her.

Me, on the other hand, I am O.C.D. about packing.

I have to wash every item, or as close to that as possible, before packing can commence.  I like all of my options (and there are a LOT) to be hung up or folded in the appropriate place so that I can than go through and pick and choose and scrutinize before deciding on the contents of my bag.  The problem with this is that I am also extremely busy and laundry has a tendency to pile up.  That means that before I even pick out a suitcase (and there are options there, too), I probably have around 5 loads of laundry that need washing, drying, hanging, folding, and ironing if I'm not inspired enough to move quickly*.  After this is all completed, I have to coordinate outfit options.  Unlike my mother's wardrobe, not everything I own can be paired with everything in it.

Some things that complicate packing unnecessarily include, but are not limited to:
  1. A tendency to over pack
  2. An active imagination of what the trip might entail
  3. Accessorizing (shoes, bags, jewelry, etc.)**
  4. Confidence issues that all of a sudden I am acutely aware of
However, it helps when I have shopping bags of new clothes to help my efforts.*** 

I pack, and repack, and contemplate for several hours (give or take depending on the amount of time I will be gone) before zipping up my bag and struggling to lift it off the bed and onto the floor, where it sits until I decide to redo part of the process; adding or eliminating something that probably less than 20 minutes before I was certain I did/did not need.  And than I call someone else in my household to haul the bag downstairs.  Occasionally, I make more decisions once it is out of my sight.  Carry-on bags for me, however, present no problem; grab my iPod touch (and charger), whatever book I'm reading (been procrastinating on reading) and the latest issue of Glamour or Cosmopolitan and I'm set - Let's be honest, if I'm a) in the passenger's seat or b) flying, than I'm sleeping most of the way regardless..I don't even pretend anymore that anything productive will be accomplished in this transitional period.

This Friday, I will be last minute packing for Atlanta (where I will be spending the next week hanging out with the Altered crew)..wish me luck!

*I also prefer a neat and tidy room, not often, but for this purpose -- it helps alleviate stress during this painful process.

**In the winter the weather presents an additional and time consuming problem, adding hats, scarfs, gloves, etc.

***Which I do.