If you’re never heard of order muppets and chaos muppets, you can learn about them here. It’s a simple dichotomy, but what it lacks in nuance it makes up for in clarity.
Almost anyone who knows me will tell you that I am, by an metric, an order muppet. But: I’m not. Oh, it’s invisible in my public life for the most part — random moments lacking in dignity and elegance happen to everyone after all. Professionally, I look like the consummate order muppet. With friends, I’m the maker of lists, the one who has to rein in the bossiness to be a good listener, the one quick to problem solve.
Like everyone else, I successfully convinced myself for a long time that I was an order Muppet.
But I am secretly a chaos muppet. My work desk might be exquisitely minimalist; my desk at home? Piled horizontally with anything I might need a moment’s notice for a whim.
To put it another way: I thought I was Pepper Potts. I am actually Tony Stark. (An ideal relationship, I think, needs at least one Pepper Potts. In mine, it is not me — at least, not all the time.)
When I was younger, I was very fond of the game “act as if” — scared doing a presentation in college? Pretend I was a favorite character tabling a matter of galactic importance. I suppose it’s a more tailor-made version of WWJD.
My order muppetry falls by the wayside like the sham that it is the moment I don’t have a problem to solve and the chaos muppet takes over. And when you’re a writer with a vivid internal landscape to contemplate, that means a lot of real-life tasks recede in importance, to the point of vanishing (until they turn up later, on fire).
I’m back at college and in the middle of a couple of diy projects at home, and this weekend I wanted to get a lot done. I did the old “act as if” game, and was surprised how amazingly effective it still is.
But finding my inner Pepper Potts wasn’t just about getting things done, like a mechanical list-following drone. It was surprisingly holistic. I enjoyed the rare good weather. I got some work done. I ate well and spoke to friends and family. It wasn’t half-panicked problem solving, chaos masquerading as order, and strangest of all, I remembered to put the person (me, in this case) above the problem. It was eye-opening, and authentically liberating.
Not that anyone’s asked, but that’s my advice. Next time you’re panicking, ask yourself: WWPPD? The answer is probably: take a breath, do some self-care, and when you’ve calmed down some, trust yourself to figure it out. Enjoy the good weather. Don’t forget about the people you love.