Do you ever have a habit, or a way of thinking, that seems so peculiar to yourself that you can’t imagine that other people feel the same way?
Over the years, so often, I’ve discovered that while I’d assumed that some aspect of my personality was highly idiosyncratic, when I wrote about it, I learned that many people felt the same way.
For instance, there’s so much discussion in popular culture about the challenges of being an over-buyer that I thought I was the only person who had the challenges of being an under-buyer. But when I started writing and talking about this distinction, I found out that many people are under-buyers like me.
Recently, I was talking to my sister Elizabeth about a strange phenomenon I’d observed in myself. It was so irrational that I assumed that no one else would ever react the same way.
With me, sometimes I’m so eager for a result, or so impatient for something to come to fruition, that I can’t bear to start, so I just delay and delay. Which is obviously an unreasonable response.
The first time I noticed this glitch in my thinking was back in high school. Back then, to get photographs developed, we had to drop off the film to be processed somewhere, then wait a few days to get the printed photographs back.
I’d gone on a trip to France with some friends, and I so badly wanted those photographs that I kept delaying making the trip to the drug store to drop off the film for processing.
I couldn’t bear to wait the few days that it would take me to get them back after I dropped them off—so I didn’t drop them off. Which makes no sense!
For some reason, this came up in conversation with my sister Elizabeth, and to my surprise, she nodded in recognition. “Oh, I’ve done that,” she told me.
“Like when?” I asked, incredulous.
“Sometimes I’ll hate the thought of sending a piece of clothing to the dry cleaner, because then I can’t wear that item until I get it back. But I can’t wear it anyway, because it’s dirty! So it just sits in my closet, unworn, for much longer than if I just took it to the dry cleaner right away.”
A friend told me she had a similar feeling about changing her eating habits. “I have terrible eating habits, and I really want to lose weight. I want so badly to lose twenty pounds that I keep putting off the day when I’ll start eating differently. Because I know that once I start, it’s going to take a long time to lose that weight. So I never start Day #1, because I don’t want to have to wait that long.”
Sometimes, we’re so eager for to reach the end that we can’t bear to start. This is obviously irrational, but apparently I’m not the only person who has felt this way.