Simplify, the books and news articles say.

The “Easy” button doesn’t exist for some of us. Between the stories running rampant in our heads to the irrefutable barrage of public voices saying that what we’re doing isn’t enough, focused on banning that which we aren’t doing at all (I see you, CRT.) and books that might give kids an opportunity to consider the reality that life isn’t all daffodils and sunshine and that people, as a whole, have been awful to one another for millennia, the “Easy” button gets buried rather quickly.

I have so many things running around in my head, much like squirrels collecting nuts before a snowstorm. I could make a list for you to help you see what I mean but I suspect that there’s a character limit even here. Some are things like cleaning the catbox–mundane and not all that easy to complicate, but others are along the lines of creating a SWOT analysis for something at work (which I could easily complicate the hell out of) or analyzing testing data for trends across levels and within same level courses…or even a blog post.

The need to overcomplicate stems from perfectionism I think. The perfectionist wants to ensure that whatever they are doing is thorough and complete, leaving nothing open to criticism or discussion. The perfectionist wants to be sure that they’ve covered all the bases, thought of all the counter positions, and addressed any potential questions, whether they be about the content or the process or the inclusion or exclusion of information.

I spent seven hours a few weeks ago complicating up an email that, even as I wrote it, I knew was too long, too wordy, and just…too much. The tl;dr version would have simply said, “Quit griping. This is what we do.” I had to send it to a friend to “un-word” it for me because I’d overcomplicated and overthought it all to the point that there were so many rabbit trails the whole thing was hard to follow.

I’ve complicated simple things like mopping the floor and I blame TikTok and YouTube and Instagram and Pinterest completely. Flylady says that done is better than perfect, but the ladies on those social media channels say that if you have this mop and that bucket and use this combination of cleaning stuff that your house will smell like eucalyptus and the 35-year-old linoleum will magically look like luxury vinyl tile.

Our gifted kids do the same thing. I can’t start working until my seat is just right, my paper is just at the right angle, and I have a freshly sharpened, brand new Ticonderoga pencil. I can’t get started on the project because I don’t have the fancy cotton balls that exist only in the craft room at my grandmother’s house in Maine. Mom, I can’t go to school today because my socks and shoes are not the same color of purple as my hair elastic. I’m not done with my paper yet–I’ve only revised and edited four times and it still isn’t right.

I’ve started and stopped this blog post 15 times in two days because…oh wait. That’s me. Questions about who my audience is, what my purpose for writing is, why anyone will care, WILL anyone care are on constant repeat.

It’s difficult to use the “Easy” button when one has such a fine ability to complicate without much effort.

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