15 Coping Strategies for the ‘Type A’ Islander

Written by: Chrissann

 

The Huffington Post, in all its clickable glory, recently published yet another article I knew immediately I would be powerless to resist: 11 Things Every ‘Type A’ Person Wants You To Know. And so I clicked and proceeded to nod my head vehemently as I read through all the ways society was misunderstanding me. Yes… yes… yes… YES.  #nailedit

There are many aspects of island life that are incongruous to the Type A personality. The slow pace, the rampant inefficiencies, the lack of readily available resources, the abundance of chilled out (read: drunk/vacationing) people – just a few of the things capable of pushing the more driven of us (ok, perhaps amped is more appropriate…) to The Edge. So much so, that many would think we Type A folks don’t belong on an island at all.

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I loved reading fellow WWLOR writer Amanda Walkin’s perspective on this post and how island life has managed to mostly “cure” her of her Type A tendencies. I, however, must confess that after nearly 10 years of island living, while some of my more monomaniacal penchants have weakened a bit, I am still just as Type A as ever. I may be on a rock in the middle of the Caribbean, but I have shit I feel compelled to accomplish, and I’m not about to piña colada that urge away (though trust me, I’ve tried).

And so, I thought I’d share a little list of some of my own coping strategies of how this Type A woman manages to not only just handle, but actually enjoy, her life in the Land of Live Slow.

My Top 15 Coping Strategies for the Type A Islander

1. Exercise and meditate on the daily.

Taking time to center yourself and burn off extra energy is essential. Whenever I skip either one, I definitely notice my equanimity tank getting dangerously near empty. Plus, in the words of Elle Woods, “Exercise gives you endorphins, and endorphins make you happy. Happy people don’t kill other people {sic}.”

2. Stop arriving 10 minutes early to everything. Seriously – stop it. Right meow.

Everyone is going to be late. And not just stateside late, but island late. I know that in order for you to feel on time, you must be early. But here, arriving at the exact scheduled time is still considered early. I know this kills you, but just go with it. It will save you needless irritation and a whole lotta waitin’ around time.

3. Only do errands at off peak hours.

Friday afternoon at the bank will eat your soul and send you into a murderous rage. If you have the ability, only visit banks, grocery stores, and government offices at times when most others are at work.

slow buoy_WWLOR

4. Never, ever drink espresso (or anything highly caffeinated, for that matter) before dealing with island bureaucracy.

If you’re anything like me, you already naturally operate at an energy level several notches above the rest of the normal humans, and the extra charge you get from the espresso will only serve to crack you out and make you even less patient that you are without it.

And, on that note…

5. Perhaps imbibe a wee bit before doing errands. Do whatever it takes to slow your roll.

I know people can get sensitive about excessive alcohol consumption, but I will say that for someone like me who does not have an addictive personality, I find it perfectly acceptable to have a little drinkie-poo from time to time before I head out to conquer my to do list if I’m already feeling aggravated in any way, shape, or form. A little alcoholic softening (or happy puff for the smokers among us) can really take the edge off and put you in a much better mood to deal with whatever potential frustrations lie ahead.

6. Take care of any urgent physiological needs before getting yourself into a line, even if you have to walk/drive slightly out of your way to accomplish it first.

I assure you, this is not a waste of time. If you have to pee, or if you’re feeling dehydrated, or if your blood sugar is low – take a moment, and fix it. None of these things will make waiting in a long ass line any more bearable. One of my favorite tips from Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project podcast is to “treat yourself like a toddler”. Yes, the line at Labour may be surprisingly short, but more likely, it will be long and you don’t want your inner toddler to be set-up for a public tantrum.

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7. When you feel powerless at the hands of inept island authority, call in a lifeline.

Call a friend who shares your crazy side (you’ll only scare the normal ones), yell out all the psychotic, empty threats you wish to yell at the island authority in question, cry if you need to, then move on. If any anger lingers, feel free to also have an indulgent scream in the air-conditioned privacy of your car.

8. Do not waste your precious energy brainstorming effective solutions to the ridiculous nonsense that is surrounding you.

This will make you insane. You are not here to fix everything. No one wants you to fix everything. The sooner you stop asking, “Why?” and just accept that up is down and down is sideways, the sooner you can feel at peace. Welcome to your Wonderland, Alice. Now go throw yourself a tea party and call it a day.

9. Focus on gratitude and remind yourself how fortunate you truly are.

When that old lady is hobbling ahead of you in line at the bank and she finally reaches the teller, only to start in on a long conversation completely unrelated to her banking needs while the other 20 of you prepare for an even longer wait, force yourself to start making a list of how fortunate you are. I am grateful for my young, healthy body that allows me to move speedily through my day. I am grateful that I have money to deposit here to cover all my needs. I am grateful that I am not so lonely that I must rely on the bank teller for my socialization for the day. When the tourists ahead of you are driving obnoxiously slow – I am grateful I live in a place most people spend a year saving up to visit. I am grateful I am sitting in a/c, listening to music I enjoy. I am grateful for the amazing views of my drive. I am grateful I have a car.  

10. Find other motivated people on island to befriend.

In the same way that you didn’t hang out with the slackers all the time if you had any hope of maintaining good grades while in school, spending all your time with the drunkards of island society won’t do you any favors. Find the fellow movers and shakers on your rock – they will understand your plight, and you can stay positive together, as well as help motivate and encourage each other (and collectively envy the drunken slackers for their delightfully chill existence).

11. Get 3G and a smartphone so you can work as you wait.

This has literally changed my life in many positive ways. Now, every time I get stuck waiting, my Type A personality that requires productivity can respond to emails, catch up on important articles I’ve been saving, and listen to work-related podcasts (if I remember my headphones).

12. Work on your reactions to phrases like “chill out”, “relax”, and “don’t worry, it’s not a big deal”.

Few things can ignite rage in me quite like these dismissive remarks. Telling a Type A person that something isn’t “a big deal” is like speaking gibberish. And yet people love saying these things on an island. It’s the whole Caribbean, “no problem, mon” vibe they’re embracing. Just understand that you are in the minority, most people will not share your sense of urgency, and work on not taking things like this personally. Feel free to continue caring deeply about things inside.

*click for image credit

13. Make realistic goals. Especially if you’re reliant on someone else.

Things just take longer here. For example, I have had my trade license application in for over 5 months now. You know when I had hoped to launch my company? Hint: much sooner than 5 months. You would be correct in assuming that this makes me absolutely crazy every damn day that passes. And yet, I’m trying daily to remind myself that not everything is in my control, things will happen in due time, and this island life is making me a more patient person (really, I know it doesn’t seem like it, but it is. #lifelessons).

14. Stop stressing about the potential of turning lazy.

It’s not in your DNA. No island is going to turn you lazy, even if you do grant yourself the random treat of laying on a beach drinking margaritas on a Tuesday. If you happen to feel relaxed, just go with it. Everything is going to be okay. You will still accomplish your goals. This is why you are here. And on that note…

15. Make plans for relaxation time, and allow yourself to embrace the occasional unplanned moments of peace.

Add it to your to-do list. Make a point to “force yourself” to take sanctioned days off, where you can relax guilt free. It will feel amazing not only to relax, but to cross it off your list. Two birds, one stone. Bam.

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Are you a fellow Type A islander who has a tip to add to this list? Or are you a lucky Type B who island life suits perfectly (and who now thinks I’m a total psychopath)?

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Chrissann Nickel

About Chrissann Nickel

Chrissann’s home rock in the British Virgin Islands, against all logic, feels bigger to her than it actually is. Though after spending five years on a teensy one acre island, the current 13-mile long rock she’s residing on now IS ginormous, at least by comparison. As with everything in the Caribbean, it’s all about perspective.

Once upon a time she used to care about things like matching her purse to her pumps, but these days, she’s a card-carrying member of the Barefoot Nation. She is utterly enchanted with vinyasa yoga, especially when practiced on somewhat precarious, deliciously Instagram-able surfaces (she's @WomanOnARock) such as paddleboards, boats, cliffs, or even the occasional willing friend’s body. She vehemently believes that toucans are the best animals ever (period.) and there is no convincing her otherwise (though imperious roadside goats come in as a close second).

As the Editor in Chief of this site, she spends a lot of her time working from home all by her lonesome writing, editing, and cultivating content designed to make her fellow islanders laugh. Besides her writerly pursuits, she moonlights as a yoga instructor, and attributes at least a smidge of her insanity to the amount of time she spends talking to drunk people. If you’re somehow still reading this and feel inclined to find out more about this “Chrissann” of which we speak, you can also take a gander at her eponymous personal website, www.chrissannnickel.com

CURRENT ROCK OF RESIDENCE: Virgin Gorda, BVI

ISLAND GIRL SINCE: 2006

ORIGINALLY HAILS FROM: California

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57 thoughts on “15 Coping Strategies for the ‘Type A’ Islander

  1. Oh, Chrissann, I could not love this post more!!! I consider myself a recovering Type A, so of course I must acknowledge that those tendencies are still very much present. Old habits die hard, but rubbing some saltwater in the wounds always helps!

    Go for a swim, fellow island girls. Float with the flow of the ocean and remember how very tiny your worries truly are. Saltwater cures everything 🙂

    • So happy we could share our Type A stories together and laugh about it, Amanda! Thanks for the note – and yes, the sea is always so refreshing when things are happy and when they’re tough 🙂

  2. Love the article! Great read that made me smile in self reflection. I too, am a type “A”, but after 1 and 1/2 years I have repositioned myself to a “B+” and chilling quite nicely thank you…what could be better than to wake up each morning and see that I have another “pinch me” day. Living on a rock is a luxury and I am loving it!

  3. This post is great–I’m not quite as type-A as you (I doubt I accomplish half as much as you do in a day!) but every point you make is right-on with me. I’m totally not above a little sumthin’-sumthin’ before a trip to Cost-U-Less, and without my island-besties, I’d be in a straightjacket. It helps to know that I’m not alone…

  4. i LOVE IT, Chrissann. I try to pretend I am not a Type A, but you ,(knowing me) tell me!
    I do many of the things you suggest to make me feel more island-congruent and now the idea of a little sip of a teeny drink with a smidge of alcohol before I do something that I know will be frustrating to my impatient side, that sounds good ,too….just let me know if I am becoming too tipsy too often….
    One of my laid back yet professional island friends once told me, “Mary, we may be late to everything, but if you need us, we will be there immediately” and right he is!

  5. Definitely type B. Island life suits me perfectly most of the times. I would really like to tell you to chill. This stressful life you don’t seem to be able to leave behind, is it not what you tried to escape. I mostly recommend point 9 to you.

  6. Oh my goodness I do so many of these things! My hilux ute is the best aircon office with phone charger there is. I even pack snacks for potential delays.

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