I am not a rational person. I am a thinker, a dreamer, a worrier, a worstcasescenario-er by nature. My brain whizzes at hundreds of miles an hour; if I let myself go unchecked, I would whir until I melt into a bundle of twitching nerves and neuroses. Situations outside my norm tend to induce rapid onset anxiety; I can feel it flapping wildly in my chest like a rabid butterfly. Now, this isn’t always bad – sometimes the anxious displacement spurs me to great idea making or big, fat word love. Being in a new country, meeting new people, trying different food, jumping out of airplanes*, getting a trendy new haircut, starting a new job, leaving a familiar one, going on a date…all moments aflutter with the anxiety bug.
But there’s the more insidious side that spreads hot panic and paralytic fear, shackling me inside an unending whirl of ‘whatifs’. If you don’t answer your email, your house must have burned down. If I can’t contact you overseas, you’re mortally injured laying in a ditch covered in mud and flies.
It’s to do with the unknown – if I don’t know the outcome or the ‘plan’, I must fill in the blanks. I don’t cope with gaps. So, the mind boggles with possibility…and, bless my imagination, it concocts scenarios the likes of which can’t even exist in real life – the actual will pale in comparison to any horrific crevices my mind can conjure.
The thing is, no matter how much I worry about something, no matter how worked up or stressed out or anxious I feel – none of it does any good. If something’s gone wrong, my worry won’t fix it, it’s already gone wrong. Life is largely out of my control. This is difficult for an obvious control freak to conceptualise but there it is – I can’t control life; it’s going to happen regardless.
So I check myself: shoes off, deep breath; try to trust that life will work out just fine.
*A note in case you labour under a delusion that I am cooler and more adventurous than I actually am: I have never jumped out of an airplane and have no intention of ever doing so – I just imagine that it falls into the same category of numbing fear.