Ever since I can remember, I have loved to make lists.
Growing up, I had a hiding place in my room specifically designated for the “ultra important” ones:
my favorite colors
my best friends
reasons why I deserved a puppy
As I got a little older, the lists changed:
books I wanted to read
boys I liked
places I wanted to travel
Once I reached high school, I realized that lists were my way of compartmentalizing. My brain often felt so cluttered; jotting things down was a way of unloading some bulk. I didn’t have to think about it anymore, but I still knew it was safe somewhere, immortalized. When I see a word or quote I want to remember, I add it to a list. When I hear a name or a song I like, I add it to a list. My desk is often covered in ripped pieces of paper filled with seemingly unorganized phrases. But through the scribbles, my world becomes more structured.
The other day, I read an NPR article about why the average person is drawn to lists. The number six reason was “Making lists can help make you famous”. Apparently, Benjamin Franklin was an avid list-maker. His included, “synonyms for being drunk…and of reasons to choose an older woman as a mistress”. He also completed a list of personal virtues that he felt should define his life. The author of the article attributed much of Franklin’s fame to his many detailed lists.
While I do not see my obsessive habit turning into anything more than that, you better believe I’ve already added it to my “Ways to Get Famous” list.