2. Hi, I’m Katie. This is me.
I mean, this is me at 17 years old (I know), not now, but it’s, you know, me. Me at perhaps my most me.
This is me shortly before I was voted runner-up “Devil in Disguise” by my high school class. I am pretty sure it was meant ironically.
3. I am: an insufferable goody two-shoes, a rigid disciplinarian, a hopeless rule-follower, a perfectionist. And, so long as we’re dividing ourselves into two main groups, then sure, I’m type A.
What can I say!! I’m just a girl, trying to control my not-insignificant anxiety by hewing as closely as possible to a fixed daily routine meant to stave off (and, ideally, prevent altogether) death, as well as other undesirable, unavoidable human events. Like getting sick, or feeling a little uncomfortable or awkward for five minutes.
In a lot of ways, this dumb way of life serves me well. I always get my work done, and usually sooner than expected. I am fit and healthy and mostly happy. But sometimes, I wish (and other people in my life wish) that I could just “let loose.” Or “relax.” Or “take things one day at a time.” Or “play it by ear.”
I don’t know what any of that even means. So on a recent Friday (a day on which I reasoned I could get away with “taking it easy” without too many repercussions), I “lived my best life.” I attempted to abandon my personal rules and routines, and instead did whatever I wanted.
Here’s how that went.
4. Normally, I wake up at 6:15, so I can leave the house by 8:00, and get to work around 8:30. I have never, ever, not once in my life pressed snooze.
The snooze button seems crazy to me. Why not just let yourself sleep until the time you actually have to get up, and get up then?
The night before this experiment, I fell asleep around… 9:30. Ha. In my defense, I had woken up at — you guessed it — 6:15. But when I went to bed, I turned off my normal alarm, and instead set one for 7:30.
To me, 7:30 seems unconscionably late to start a work day. However, my job technically starts at 10 a.m., and for many people, that kinda means more like 10:15 or 10:30. It’s really only me and maybe two other similar losers who get there at 8:30. I wanted to be more like everyone else. I forbade myself from leaving for work before 9:45.
Despite my best intentions, I only manage to “sleep in” until 6:20. I lay in my bed until 7:15, worrying. This way I have only two and a half instead of three and a half hours to kill before I can leave for work.
5. After getting dressed, I go to pick up breakfast from a coffee shop in my neighborhood.
I eat the same thing every day for breakfast: oatmeal, yogurt, granola, and fruit. I used to only use blueberries, and then one day my girlfriend suggested I switch to strawberries, since blueberries weren’t really in season. I was like, I don’t know about this, but after thinking it over, I decided to just go for it, because life is short. So now I only use strawberries.
ANYWAY, I am pretty regimented about what I eat — partly because I love doing the same thing every day until I die, and partly because I experience what you might call “light food issues.” I feel guilty about eating certain things, and that typically includes pastries. But today — and here I feel like a fashion blogger who says things like “I decided to indulge in a chocolate croissant from the bakery across the street” — I decide to indulge in a chocolate croissant from the bakery across the street. I get two lattes for me and my girlfriend.
It tastes great. So far this is going great. My girlfriend also makes me some eggs so I am not hungry again in 10 minutes.
6. One unexpected side effect I notice is that my girlfriend seems to be making up for my forced chill by becoming frenetic and anxious herself.
While making me eggs, she speeds around the kitchen the way I normally would making my oatmeal, and she ends up telling me to go sit down and get out of the way. She also says that she hates this experiment, and that she likes me being “uptight and anal.” Love!
7. The next part is, without question, the hardest: I am FORBIDDEN from making my bed.
8. This is what my bed looks like on a normal day.
Now that I’m looking at this I see a few edges I’d like to straighten, but whatever, it’s fine.
10. My roommate leaves home before me, which NEVER HAPPENS. I watch her go and look at the clock. I have 45 minutes left to kill.
I feel stressed, but ultimately my girlfriend and I find a way to pass the remaining time. ;) ;) ;) ;) ;)
(Watching the Snapchat Stories of teenagers we don’t know.)
11. Because getting dressed is often a stressful part of my morning, involving a lot of running back and forth to different mirrors and lighting situations, I decide to just grab a shirt from my girlfriend’s drawer. I’m like, “Who cares!!!!!”
It looks fine.
I get to work around 10:40, apologizing to everyone. I have a meeting at 11 and have almost no time beforehand to catch up on emails and Slacks, run through some edits, etc. Instead of getting as much done as I can in that amount of time, I shop online for 20 minutes. :( Online shopping is an area in which I am fairly lenient with myself, but because today is payday, and I have to put most of this check toward bills and loans and savings, I feel worse about buying something frivolous today. Typically I’d try to wait at least a day before shopping, to let the money sort of… settle. Not today!
12. For lunch, I typically get a salad from a place two blocks from the office. I order ahead of time, so I don’t have to wait in line, and so I can be back to the office within 10 minutes. I always eat at my desk to work through lunch.
Today, I still order a stupid salad, but I take my time getting back with it, forcing myself to walk more slowly (like normal people), and even stopping in Sephora.
13. I try on three bright red lipsticks and hate them all.
I do, however, buy a highlighter for $29. Maybe this one will make me glow in a way that is distinct from all the other $29 highlighters I’ve bought.
While in Sephora, I get a contact high from all the pretty glosses, and I come dangerously close to buying a “beauty blender” (aka a $30 sponge), but I make it out just in time.
14. Back in the office my co-worker Sarah makes fun of me for still getting a salad on my day of rebellion. So I go upstairs and get a bag of Cheetos (something I normally never let myself eat) and add them to my salad.
It is… pretty good. Cheetos are so good. I don’t know why I don’t eat these more often. Who really cares, in the grand scheme of things? It is just dyed cheese dust.
15. I spend some time in the afternoon looking up nail designs, because I want to get my nails done this weekend. I ask my co-workers to vote, thereby distracting them as well as myself.
16. Around 3:00, I send my manager Arianna an email telling her that I have cramps and am going to work the rest of the day from home.
Here I am employing a method I often use when I feel guilty about something. It is called “over-joking.” I did not need to make a Fifth Harmony reference. But that is a very good song.
This isn’t even that big a deal — I can definitely do my job from home occasionally. And despite the nail polling, I’ve actually gotten a lot done by this point in the day. But when Arianna replies “feel better!!!” I feel even worse. Especially because I am not even going to work from home. Not yet, at least.
17. From work, I go to the gym.
I normally lift weights three times a week, and while I’d considered skipping today altogether, I feel that exercise helps me too much to not go at all. Working out makes me feel healthier and more sane.
I compromise by doing what I often see many of the huge muscly guys in the weight room doing when I am there: lifting the heaviest possible weights I can two or three times, and then texting and taking selfies for 20 minutes.
This plan works for about five minutes, and then I end up doing the rest of my normal routine anyway. I’m sorry!! I can’t just waste time like this. I want to do the rest of my workout so I do. Ugh.
18. When I get home, I finish up some work, and then I shower, get dressed, and head with my girlfriend to a bar for happy hour.
Earlier in the day we’d decided to split a bottle of prosecco, but once we get there, it seems like a lot of money to spend on something neither of us is that into. So she gets an amaretto and ginger ale, and I get a Diet Coke. Two of our friends meet us at the bar, and we decide to split french fries and brownie sundae, all before dinner. French fries and brownie sundaes are probably my two favorite foods, but again, I don’t eat them very frequently.
When I planned this day of recklessness I did not anticipate that so much of my rule-breaking would revolve around food, and the fact that it does is kind of a bummer — both because it implies I must believe certain foods are “bad” and immoral in a way I would never consciously admit to, and also because it’s so boring. Come on, Katie!! Do a drug or something.
19. I try to stay up a little late, but I am not sure I even make it to 10:30.
The next morning, a Saturday, I’m up again at 6:20. Which is great!!! I love it. I love getting up early and all my dumb routines, I am sorry.
HOWEVER. I think that consciously attempting to move myself outside of my comfort zone (even in dumb, little ways) was an illuminating and interesting exercise. Because my rules and routines happen to coincide with a lot of larger cultural and societal norms, it’s pretty easy for me to justify them and, over time, form the assumption that they’re “right.” And that’s fine when it makes me work hard, or work out, but it’s not good when it makes me inflexible and closed-minded. What I am trying to say is that putting Cheetos in my salad made me a more perfect human!! Lol. No. But, it definitely didn’t make me a worse one.
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