type a?

gold ipad beside stylus

What is it called when you are most certainly type A, except when you’re not?

Psychology has always interested me. In high school it was a class I lovingly looked forward to attending because the human brain is a fascinating and wild place (shout out to the world’s best psych teacher, Ms. Knoll!). Throughout the duration of humanity there have been many people desperate to unlock the secrets within. While we may never get it completely solved, I enjoy exploring the science and studies behind why we are the way we are.

I’m the oldest child in my immediate family and according to Australian psychiatrist Alfred Adler, that tends to result in a few specific personality traits. Studies in birth order have shown that older children are typically more confident and tend to be bossy and want their way (true). They are also more likely to align with their parents beliefs and attitudes (FALSE) and tend to be perfectionists and worriers, putting pressure on themselves to succeed (true with a side of anxiety disorder, thanks birth order).

A good many of these traits also align with “Type A” personality including being competitive and self-critical, putting extra pressure on themselves to perform to the highest expectations. Type A’s also struggle with time, often overbooking their schedules and trying to do more than one thing at a time (every mom ever, amirite?).

Type B’s tend to be sort of the opposite. While they enjoy achievements, they tend not to cause themselves stress ulcers to get things done. Smart, B’s. They are typically said to be more laid back, easy going and experience lower levels of anxiety (#jelly). As a result, studies have even shown that those with Type B personality have lower risks of heart disease because they aren’t constantly trying to be in four places at the same time.

There is indeed a Type C which has difficulty expressing things and tends to suppress emotions, particularly negative ones such as anger.¬† They are also prone to ‘pathological niceness,’ conflict avoidance, high social desirability, over compliance and patience. I am none of those, so I’ll rule this one out.

I clearly fit into the standard birth pattern/type A profiles but then why can’t I keep my house clean? Why can I compete in a work or school environment but can’t maintain my level of commitment to getting my life organized within reason?

I’ve always been a nerd. School is my JAM. I love to learn and I REALLY love to get A’s. All of the A’s. At work, I love to hit goals. I have told my bosses “If you tell me what to do, it will get done plus some” because that’s how my brain works and quite frankly I love collecting gold stars. I really wish I could apply this same level of need for achievement in the rest of my life. At work, all my i’s are dotted and my t’s are crossed but I can easily let dishes pile up in the sink until I’m forced to deal with them because I can’t fit the coffee pot in to make my morning mojo. I can step over laundry, I can leave it clean but unfolded in baskets and live that way. I don’t do sock matching- we literally have baskets containing every clean sock we own and its a damned free for all. I can’t manage to follow a cleaning schedule, even though I really try. WHY ARE YOU LIKE THIS, BRAIN?!?!

According to an article from betterhelp.com (linked at the bottom of this post) your mental health can manifest in the form of disorganized behavior. As I scanned this one I was fairly certain I’m not an undiagnosed disorganized schizophrenic but then I saw it… depression. Welp. That I certainly have.

Turns out you can be a Type A all you want but if you have to wrangle that little shadowy bastard, depression, all bets are off in the organization department. Now, I’d like to make it clear that I’m treated for this, like with a doctor, so I’m cool. I mean, except for the fact that my standard of cleanliness and “must do” tasks in my house are well below those of others.

Here’s the thing though. My kids are loved. They are fed, they are snuggled and they are encouraged. They are provided with compliments and they are read to. They smile, they laugh they sing and I do make them shower. I’m happy when I’m not beating myself up over the things I DIDN’T do. I dance with them, make stupid puns that make them roll their eyes in embarrassment and I’m even the one they come to with problems most of the time. I guess it comes down to letting some of my type A go where I can so I don’t give myself a coronary by age 45. I’d say that it’s worth the dirty laundry, but I need to be reminded sometimes.

Here are some links to science that came in handy for this post to prove I don’t make everything up:

https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/behavior/what-disorganized-behavior-could-reveal-about-your-mental-state/

https://www.simplypsychology.org/personality-a.html

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2009/mar/08/birth-order-identity#:~:text=and%20only%20children.-,Oldest%20children,at%20work%20may%20reflect%20this.

Published by awadleigh

Mother of 5, lover of food, goofy by trade.

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