Why I Intentionally Messed Up My Book Pile

Blue solid foreground with text "Why I Intentionally Messed Up My Book Pile" and to the side a picture of a woman pointing at a stack of books behind her.
You might have noticed that the stack of books next to my chair is disorganized. That's intentional, here's why I did it.
Why I Intentionally Messed Up My Book Pile

My messy book pile

I’m getting ready to move my office, I’m going to switch it to a different room, more on that in another video. But before I take the setup apart, I wanted to point out something, and that’s this stack of books here next to me. It was originally intended to be my to-read list, and I would cycle through books as I read them, but that was overly optimistic because reading text on print is really hard for my eyes (that’s a whole other discussion) so it’s still pretty stationary.

But what I wanted to point out is that it’s not a very neat pile. It’s intentionally wobbly, off-centered. The books aren’t neatly lined up, they’re not from largest to smallest, they’re not in color order or alphabetical. There’s not a particular order to them, other than just whichever one happened to get most recently put on top.

And that all is so very unusual for me. I like stacks of books to be neat, to be all lined to one side or to be centered if they’re horizontal. For them to… It needs to be neat. And I have very intentionally made this a less orderly stack because, first of all, I needed one thing in my life to not be orderly. To remind me that it’s okay, that nothing bad is happening, that the stack of books is off-kilter and it doesn’t actually affect anything (other than what’s going on inside me, and that I have the skills to deal with at this point). 

Sometimes when I look at it I feel this clenching inside, like “EEUHL”, and I know how to deal with that now. I have the skills to walk myself through it and to get back to a place where I’m okay with the world and I can move on with my day.

That I need to be showing that I am orderly, that everything is neat and tidy, and everything has its place and all of the stuff that goes with that.

Having something like that doesn’t have to be in such a public place, it could be somewhere else in my life that no one ever saw, but I also very intentionally put it here where it’s seen by all my clients, seen on the YouTube videos and workshops, wherever you see me. And that’s because there is another part of me that doesn’t want to be seen as an un-orderly person. That I need to be showing that I am orderly, that everything is neat and tidy, and everything has its place and all of the stuff that goes with that.

It was really hard for me at the beginning to be seen as having a non-neat stack of books.

I decided that I was at a point in my own personal journey that I wanted to challenge myself by presenting myself as someone who can handle being perceived as not being entirely tidy. And it was exactly what I intended it to be, it was quite a challenge to my own identity. And, at the same time, I have the skills now to be able to deal with that, to talk myself through when thoughts around that come up, when I feel a little anxiety welling around that.

Moving on from the pile

This has been like this for long enough. It’s been about a year and a half since I’ve had this office set-up, and the stress has gradually decreased. It’s something that I’m aware of, and it’s something that I’m aware that I’m not in love with, and in the new office it will probably be different, but it’s not affecting me the same way that it did towards the beginning. It’s been gradually decreasing because I’ve actually not had people give me flack for it. I’ve not had bad comments about it.

And if some people have seen my videos and they’re like, “I just can’t deal with that” and they never reach out to me and it turns some people off: You know what? I’m not able to please everyone. Even if it was a neat stack, it wouldn’t completely please everyone. If there weren’t books at all, or if there was a whole bookshelf behind me, any various options would not please everyone. 

What I’ve decided is that the people who can stand my outward presentation of myself are the people that I can work with. These are the people that can handle me and that’s what’s most important.

Just because I did it for a while doesn’t mean I have to continue it forever.

This has been going on long enough that it is a stable enough thing in my life, I’ve kind of taken away from the experiment what I needed to take away from it. So when I move to the new room, and set up my new office, it’s going to be quite different and I don’t need to continue doing that. That’s another thing, it’s not all or nothing. Just because I did it for a while doesn’t mean I have to continue it forever. I got from the experience what I needed to get from it and I thought a little explanation of that might be useful, just in case anyone was wondering about my disorderly stack of books.

I’m kind of curious what you’re taking from this. I’d love to get some comments down below in the comments section. Totally fine if you don’t want to. Anyway, more on the move to a new office in another video and I’ll see you around. Have a neurowonderful day.

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Picture of Heather Cook

Heather Cook

Hi, I’m Heather. I’m an Autistic writer, advocate, and life coach, and I'm building a life I love. I help other Autistics to build their own autism-positive life. I love reading, jigsaw puzzles, just about every -ology, and Star Trek!

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