How flat packs transformed my everyday fears into fulfilment

We’ve been in our ‘new’ home for a year now. It doesn’t feel new anymore, but others still refer to it as our ‘new place’. I guess this makes sense, after thirteen years at our last address. In this house, I’m aiming for a somewhat minimalist aesthetic. This, combined with the fact that our old bookshelf wouldn’t fit up the stairs and is now a rather fancy garage storage unit, meant living without bookshelves for a year. This is fine in theory, but in reality, it wasn’t working for me. I like to be, make that HAVE to be organised. Organisation is my security blanket and without it, I feel anxious, get stressed out and impatient. I wasn’t feeling organised about my book situation and that needed to be fixed. My daughter recently commented “Mum needs a project when she’s not working.” She knows me too well and even a couple of weeks’ Easter break is enough to have me looking for a project. I’d just found one – to solve my book storage problem.

Prior to moving, I severely culled my books and gave most of them away. Soon after, a classroom fire destroyed my extensive collection of children’s picture books and novels. This was devastating, as many were signed by authors or illustrators and addressed to myself or my children; they are irreplaceable. Many were favourites of myself and my now-grown children, so it was a keenly felt loss. The remainder of my books, including family photo albums, were still in boxes a year later, packed away in an under stair storage area. This may not sound like a big deal, but it was to me. I imagined a fire and potentially being unable to rescue photo albums. I was unable to look through the kids’ baby albums on their birthdays, as has become a tradition for me. I couldn’t flick through our wedding photos on our anniversary to cringe at my dress and marvel at how terrified I look in almost every photo. (OK, perhaps that wasn’t such a bad thing.) I couldn’t post a cute photo collage for the kids’ birthdays either, something I enjoy putting together. All minor dramas in the scheme of things and trifling first world problems, but why live with them unnecessarily?

My mind made up to finally purchase bookshelves, I searched IKEA online and decided on my products. Seeking a built-in appearance, I opted for several Billy bookcases, filling an entire wall. Next step was to drive to IKEA and purchase my items. I attempted to order via click and collect, but the website kept dropping out. Alas, I was forced to confront some of my fears and get the items myself.

Facing my fears

Fear #1 – the boxes won’t fit in the car. Solution – measure the available car space several times to ensure the boxes will fit. Tick #1. Although not fully convinced, the numbers worked. Fear #2 – lifting the large, heavy boxes onto the trolley on my own. Solution – suck it up and just do it. Well, you should have seen me, huffing and puffing and sweating up a storm in the air conditioned store attempting to haul these boxes onto my trolley which had a mind of its own and rolled away every time a box touched it. For some reason, my gym deadlifting skills did not transfer to lifting flat packs and placing them on a moving trolley. An older lady watching my ordeal soon took pity on me and offered to hold my trolley stable, expediting the process considerably. Tick #2. I soon had the boxes stacked neatly on my trolley, labels facing the front ready for scanning. Fear #3 – getting the trolley to the car without hitting anything. Solution – slow and steady wins the race. Because the boxes were so long, I could only just reach the handles of the trolley when standing behind the boxes. Fortunately, I am tall and have long arms or this would have been impossible on my own. I slowly zigzagged my way into the lift, out again and along the aisle to my waiting car. Tick #3. Phew, I made it. Fear #4 – loading the boxes into the car. I knew they would fit, but what if I couldn’t lift them in? What if I’d actually measured incorrectly and they wouldn’t fit after all?! A fellow shopper in the lift laughed and wished me luck fitting my load into the car which had me feeling very stressed indeed. At the car, my deadlifting skills came into their own and I managed to lift, then slide the boxes into the car with relative ease. What a relief! Tick #4.

All my fears overcome, relief washed over me. However, all this stress and exertion had taken its toll and I was a mess. Bright red, sweaty and smelling less than fabulous, I headed back into the shops for a congratulatory bubble tea before braving the highway traffic.

Next day was shelf assembly day. Fear #5 – assembling flat pack furniture. Usually, I assemble flat packs with my husband and it can be very stressful, so I wasn’t looking forward to doing it alone. Our last attempt was quite complicated, took many hours and several re-dos. I needn’t have worried. I discovered that IKEA instructions are much clearer and easier to follow than Aldi ones and that sometimes working alone can be a huge advantage. Tick #5. Shelves assembled, it was time to start unpacking those boxes and packing the shelves.

With everything neatly packed onto my new bookshelves, I took a step back to admire my handiwork. Looking pretty good, it approximated the built-in appearance I was after. My desk, freed from clutter, now has ample workspace and everything can be easily found on the bookshelves when needed. Ah, back to my organised ideal, security blanket back in place. I can now browse photo albums at my leisure, quickly grab a book to check on something and even have space for new purchases.

Having faced some minor fears, I have emerged with strengthened confidence and resilience. Alas, these cannot be built without a certain amount of stress and striving. This experience has reinforced that I can do things I haven’t tried before and that I don’t need others to achieve what I want to. Although a task may be difficult, it an be achieved if I just stick at it. As Einstein said, “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”

Fear replaced by trust and self belief

I have replaced fear with trust that I am capable and can do things. Overcoming fears, taking risks and achieving minor everyday victories builds perseverance, resilience, self-belief and confidence.

Next time I feel anxious about trying something new or doing something alone, I can recall my success in collecting, hauling and assembling my new bookshelves and be assured that I am capable of achieving what I set my mind to. This may be a small victory, but it is small everyday victories like this that build our confidence towards larger ones.

What everyday victories over fears or anxieties have you achieved recently? How have they boosted your confidence? Have they encouraged you to take on further risks?


Anna xo


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