Creating Certainty / by Krista Boivie

For the past three years the AP grading has taken place in the lovely Fort Collins, Colorado, but this year due to the increasing size of the exam and the additional number of readers needed they switched it to Salt Lake City.  Although I had become familiar with the routine in Colorado, switching it up this year to a new venue has been an adjustment.

While eating in the dining hall of the convention center many of the people have expressed their approval and disapproval for the change.  Those that love the change seem to LOVE everything about this new setting and vice versa for those that hate it.  I have seen very little middle ground.  I am on the fence—I do love the fact that it was within driving distance and the hotel accommodations are substantially nicer than a college dorm room, although, I’m not a big fan of the food this year.

In situations like this (big conferences and conventions) I find myself people watching and analyzing the habits of those in attendance.  I also closely monitor my own behavior to see if I do anything different in a new environment.

One thing I notice is that even in unfamiliar settings I find myself creating routines. I do this as a way to turn uncertainty into certainty.  If I sit in the same spot, park on the same level, get up at the same time I will retain a measure of control—when there often isn’t any.  The funny thing about routines is that we start to own them.  That is my seat, my parking spot, etc.—when in fact ‘it’ doesn’t belong to us. 

I have also noticed that my usual habit of hitting the snooze button on my alarm has not been played out because I jump out of bed and immediately start getting ready (the delicate balance of sharing a hotel room must be maintained). I also seem to hold myself to a higher standard in regards to grooming. If only I cared this much all the time.

Do you change your patterns of behavior in unfamiliar circumstances?