On Being A "Finisher" Who is Bad at Endings

My work style is that of a “finisher.” This means that I feel uneasy until a project is completed — I don’t like “unfinished” business hanging over my head. This trait has served me well — at age 13 I was able to kick that common writing pitfall of abandoning piles of half-finished stories. It also helps me make my deadlines — I don’t put things off till the last minute (usually) because I don’t feel good until the thing is done.

But of course, like any trait, it has its dark side. I spend far too much time reading books I know I won’t enjoy because I feel committed to finishing once I’ve started. And when it’s not clearcut when a job is “finished,” I have a very hard time drawing the line and creating my own ending.

Last week, I finally officially resigned as a volunteer blogger for the Young Adult Catholics blog. I have mentioned that  blog here often. I wrote for it since its inception in 2007 and I spent a couple years as its editor. It led to some incredible opportunities for me, such as editing the book Hungering and Thirsting for Justice and being invited to be part of the Religious Institute’s colloquium on religion and bisexuality.

But in the past year or so, I have let more and more deadlines for my posts pass me by. I used to be fueled by the tension between my desire to stay connected to the Catholic Church and my discomfort with many of its official teachings.

I have been an official member at a non-Catholic Church for two years now, and that tension is gone. So, too, is my passion for writing about Catholicism, although I remain interested in exploring it through literature and pop culture. But I feel a bit like a musician who made a name for herself writing angsty songs about dysfunctional relationships, only to find that she has nothing more to say once she finds herself in a stable one.

I’m glad to be moving on, and to be making room in my life for other things.

This is because I know that to welcome something new into your life, you often have to “make room” for it by letting go of something else that no longer serves you. Unfortunately, my process has often been quite different: when there is not an obvious end in sight, my “finisher” tendency makes me uneasy and I don’t know when I can finally declare myself “finished” with something. I have practically passed out from nervousness when I’ve resigned from previous jobs. So I look for some external sign of when my work in a certain capacity might be “finished,” even though my heart always tells me months or sometimes years before I finally make it official.

Instead of making room for new things to come into my life, I just keep adding more until I have a to-do list that I have no hope of ever completing. And that is stressful for a finisher indeed!

I have been making so many writing goals this year, but in order to accomplish them, I need to give myself more room. I can’t keep adding without subtracting. By the end of the year, I hope to officially “finish” some of the other aspects in my life that are constraining me in hopes of releasing the tension in my shoulders, sleeping better at night, and spending more time on my passions every day.

Attribution: https://www.flickr.com/photos/deeplifequotes/
Attribution: https://www.flickr.com/photos/deeplifequotes/