You Are Not a List

In honor of Christmas and the holiday season, I would like to talk about one of Santa’s favorite things: lists.

This is something Saint Nick and I definitely  have in common, making lists, and checking them twice. (Although mine generally don’t concern if someone is naughty or nice). 

Santa Claus and I also both love cookies, but that’s neirher here nor there. 

It’s not just me and Santa who are list obsessed, I’m pretty sure it’s most of modern society.

This holiday season we will see many people making and marking off all kinds of lists. 

There are the basic lists: presents to buy, groceries, to-do, phone contacts, seriously just think about it... life = lists 

Then there are the less obvious lists: the bucket list, the list of goals for school or work, a list of New Years resolutions

Let us not forget the lists others make: 30 things to do before 30, 10 things all 10 month olds should know, *insert judgey clickbait article/ list that will make you feel inadequate*

Then there are the unspoken lists: the list of things off all embarrassments and failures that magically shows up at 2am (guys we’re taking an emotional turn, buckle up), the list of things you maybe could have changed in hindsight, the list of reasons to not go after a dream you care about, your list of fears, the list of mistakes you have made this week.

And a worst of all, those lists can go on and on if you let them.

(Someone please make a list of all the times I said said list so far)  

Sometimes it seems like everything is a list, even this post!

In the short term, it’s something to buy or do, in the long term it’s a goal or an achievement.  

And because of that, if you aren’t checking items off fast enough, visiting enough countries, meeting those goals, passing those tests with the scores you want, taking out the trash the day you planned, you begin to feel like you are going nowhere.

Other times you are doing EVERYTHING on the list, but you’re left feeling empty and tired, more so than rewarded and fulfilled. Suddenly you don’t just have a list, you ARE a list.  

But you are not a list and neither am I.   

You are not a collection of things you have done or haven’t done, you are not an unfinished project or an unchecked box, you are a human being!!!!!

You are way more complicated than picking up milk at the grocery store. You are more than just “naughty or nice” (that was weird, but I’m trying to tie back to the Santa thing).  

Inside of us there is a complex story we tell ourselves, there is the pep talk for changing out of our pajamas, there is the internal debate about the decisions we make. And to make up the parfait of the human experience (subtle Shrek Reference), we have emotions. We aren’t just checking boxes, we are feeling joy! Sadness! Grief! Exhaustion.  

Life might be comprised of many lists, for better or worse, but you are not a list. You are a person, with a story way more complicated and beautiful than a few bullet points could describe.

Take that, Santa.