Recently, I spent half an hour completing one square inch of a drawing that was meant to be a sketch. That little corner turned out fairly well, especially compared to my sketchbook entry from a few days ago. The assignment? Make a design with a collage element and crystals. My interpretation? Glue three leaves onto the page and make some horrendously drawn crystals stab at them. When that failed to be beautiful, I tried to draw a crystal on top of a leaf, which just created a leaf with a hole in it.

When one of my assignments looks so incredibly messy, I laugh to think that nearly everyone who knows me has made fun of me for “being OCD.” That statement is wrong both factually and grammatically, but I do see their point. I don’t like stray marks on my papers, each pocket in my backpack has a specific purpose, and I’ve been known to use whiteout in my notes. At the moment, I’m using my unmade bed as a motivational tool—I’ll fix it when I’m done with this blog.

Every now and then, someone will gleefully doodle in the margins of my homework. I rush to the white-out to fix the damage, which tends to trigger a lot of laughter. Even certain teachers have been known to rip papers in half and then refuse to let me tape them.

The same people who amuse themselves by exploiting my pet peeves are generally surprised to see that my locker is messy. I organize it occasionally to avoid avalanches when I open it, but beyond that I just pile in and yank out whatever I need.

My brain seems to have decided it can allot only so much energy toward making things look pretty. And for some reason, I just can’t seem to keep that energy evenly divided.

This tendency shows up most apparently in art class. The assignments take a long time, so how they turn out depends mostly on my attention span. If I were at all logical, I would quickly finish drawings that aren’t meant to be particularly good and devote a little more time to what should be quality assignments.

I have the same all-or-nothing mindset in my other classes, though not to the same degree. On an average day, I feel obsessive enough to make my assignments well written, thoughtful, and neat. If I’m tired, uninterested, or pressed for time, however, there’s a good chance that I’ll jot down a few messy sentences right before class. Rarely does an assignment fall anywhere in between; I can’t remember the last time I turned in a homework assignment that was well done but written in bad handwriting—or badly done but written nicely.

For me, what people jokingly call OCD goes hand in hand with achievement. If I can’t find time to be meticulous, I often lose interest in whatever I’m doing. It’s not always a good quality, but it’s certainly satisfying when something—an art assignment, my history homework, or my neatly made bed—looks just right.

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