Some Final Lessons: Big (and Small) Things You’ll Discover

  • You’ll discover that you have many, many flaws. No, it’s not that you load the dishwasher incorrectly (in fact, you think you do this the best). It’s more like: you can only growl in the morning; you don’t like sharing counter space; you sometimes don’t dry the dishes adequately; you leave without saying goodbye sometimes. Your vision of yourself as a rainbow-giving ball of sunshine riding on a fluffy unicorn will be shattered. In its place will seem to be Grumpy Cat meets Linda Blair’s incarnation of possession. In truth, you will realize that you are a human in need of lots of grace, a bit of coffee, and plenty of fiber.
  • Glitter can never, EVER be put back or cleaned up. Be warned: if you want to use it in November 2012, you better be willing to deal with it still in July 2013.
  • People make fun of “neat freaks.” (Side note, you now have a new way to self-identify. “Neat Freak.”) They will find your desire for order to be strange and lame and they will try to taunt you by saying you have OCD.
  • People do not know what OCD is.
  • People who make fun of those with “OCD” (aka, adults who can clean up after themselves and have a good sense for organization) actually desperately love and depend on neat freaks to keep a home from getting gross. (I will never forget when I came home from vacation and my housemates said, “We’re glad you’re back. The kitchen’s a mess!”)
  • Though you may get mocked and you may need to remind yourself that life goes on even if the towel isn’t folded right, ultimately, the trait of being an orderly person is a gift and is a part of who you are. It is, in and of itself, a neutral trait, and can be made into a tool of terror (“LOAD THE DAMN DISHWASHER!!!”) or of servanthood (“I’ll do the dishes…again!”) Like all parts of ourselves, we have to ask: How am I serving others with my personality? I can’t stop being neat, or quiet, or blunt, but I can shape these parts of myself to be a better servant. Community really helps you ask these questions.
  • Sometimes you DO have to wash off plates before they go in the dishwasher.
  • Bring blankets or extra sweaters with you if you are cold. No one else wants to turn the air conditioning off in the summer.
  • Forgive others and forgive yourself. Rinse, lather, repeat.
  • Start the day with a prayer, even if it’s just a growled “Lord help me” or better yet, a “Thank you!”
  • If you are vegetarian, be patient with people’s questions, even if they seem dumb and invasive.
  • Also, if veg, bring your own food always and everywhere, especially in the South. You never will be sure if the vegetables will be just vegetables, because lots of things get cooked with bacon.
  • Recognize that manners are relative. The only set of manners that should be universal are pleases and thank-yous. But if a person holds a fork in the “wrong” way, remind yourself of the worse sin: holding a fork differently or being arrogant and judgmental?
  • Shut off the air conditioning once and awhile, and open a damn window. The earth and your lungs will thank you.
  • And as always, wear sensible shoes or bear the consequences.