I’ve spent a considerable amount of time worrying and wondering. It’s been a disease I’ve suffered from my whole life, the worries and the wonders. The anxiety I felt, even at an early age, about what it would mean if I didn’t do my homework, got a C on a test, failed my parents, or if I wasn’t successful, these things trumped everything else in my life – mainly my happiness. Enough was simply never enough.
I believed if I worried about everything, if I planned out every scenario like a choose your own adventure that’s been read so many times it’s lost the surprise, that I would be prepared for whatever this life tossed at me. The problem with that way of thinking, while no one would argue that at times it helps to be the always prepared boy scout, is that, when taken to an extreme, it can be paralyzing. It creates rigidity and black and white thinking. It prevents me from fully experiencing the ups and downs of life, both of which have been necessary for me to progress. It academically prepares me for life, without affording me the opportunity to live.
Looking back, the amount of time I wasted on worrying instead of living is sobering. I always had a penchant for melancholy that I couldn’t put my finger on. I was more comfortable writing about emotions than experiencing them. In my safe bubble, I could hypothesize, dream, plan, obsess, hope, and wonder with the cushion of preparing myself for the fall. But the effort and time that this exhausted was ultimately the cost. It swept me away from enjoying the ebbs and flows of reality and stole from me the beauty of being an active participant the unknown wilderness of life.
And let’s talk about those outcomes I played through. Of every scenario I supposed and tossed and turned over, probably a very small number, and even a particularly smaller number of the ones I stayed up at night spinning in my head, ever came true. My life on the whole, has been unpredictable. I would have never expected to be in the city I am in, the job I perform, or to have married an alcoholic. I would have never expected someone I love to attempt suicide and almost succeed. No amount of planning could have prepared me for these exact moments. But I know one thing for certain, I’ve gotten through every bad day I’ve ever had, regardless if I have worried my way through it or just let it go and soldiered on. It’s up to me to decide which option I prefer. I say, without a hint of cynicism or sarcasm, that lesson has been the most liberating and empowering lesson in my life so far: to know that while I may not be able to control the direction, I do in fact, have a choice in my response.
Failure is an option. If we never failed, we would not learn the things that we need to know to live intricate and happy lives. If I hadn’t faced considerable challenges, I would not be able to sit here today, and fuller and increasingly complex human being. The empathy, compassion, and breadth of emotion that I am capable of feeling now are beautiful. Before, when I was worried about the holy grail of perfection, I was only able to see the disappointment in the unfulfilled. Today, that I am able to call an unpredictable outcome beautiful is a miracle in itself. And my only hope is that I continue to receive the lessons, positive and negative, that continually increase that wisdom; a wisdom that I could only gain by going through to get out.
I don’t need to be lost anymore. There are certain things that are real and tangible to me, as it stands. 1) That the universe, it will keep turning. 2) And wherever I am meant to be, I’m going to get there one way or another. That’s the only comfort I need.
“There are stars up above. We can start moving forward.”