What makes you worry? Does an unanswered text mean he’s mad at you? Does your upcoming vacation give you thoughts of a plane crash in the ocean? Does a sore throat automatically signal a deadly disease? We all worry about something at some point. So often it’s in those uncertain moments that our minds starts to go into overdrive. Common sense is quickly forgotten and the worse case scenario becomes as real as fact. However for every unanswered text or nervous flight taken there is a boring end to the story. The reality of life is very mundane compared to our imaginations.
Bad things can happen but they are few and far between. The crazy stories you see on the news are very rare and that’s exactly why they make the news. I understand though that the struggle is real. It’s hard to avoid going down the rabbit hole of worry. Whenever anxiety and worrying has gotten the better of me I later discovered there was little reason for it. I learned the lesson several years ago when I was on vacation with a large group of friends. Weeks prior to the trip I was told there was going to be a large celebratory (and expensive) dinner at a nice restaurant. Emails bounced back and forth in order to plan every detail of this very important dinner. Cut to the night of the dinner and myself and two other friends got separated from the larger group during the day but we knew we’d see them all later for dinner. I got dressed and made it to the restaurant before anyone else. As time ticked by it was clear the 8 other people weren’t coming. This is when I started to worry. Had something bad happened? Was there an emergency? Although cell phones were new they had already become common but still there were no answers to calls and texts. Hours went by. Worry worry worry. Later I learned that no emergency or harm had come but rather everyone had gotten drunk at a bar and simply forgotten. In that moment I learned this very important life lesson: calm down because the reality is far more boring that what I assumed. I remember thinking, “Wait, after all that worrying they were just drunk and lazy?” It was kind of a let down. For all my worrying and mental anguish it was actually the laziest case scenario. They weren’t dead in a ditch or sitting in jail they were just too drunk to return a text. I’m reminded of that vacation every time my brain starts to go down the “what if” rabbit hole. I’ve had to learn to purposely turn off my brain in those moments. Even though it’s easy for my mind to jump to the worse case scenario mostly likely it’s laughably as simple as absent minded forgetfulness.
Even though I’ve learned the lesson it’s something I need to remind myself of. I grew up with an anxious mother who always worried and she passed some of that on to me and my sister. For example, a couple years ago my sister called home around 10:30 right after my mom had gone to bed. Thinking she might still be awake my dad walked upstairs to give her the phone. My mother got angry at my sister for the late phone call because she was certain (and this is a direct quote) “you were calling to tell me Joey had a heart attach.” This was one of her ongoing fears and she often told me she was afraid I would die before I was 35 if I didn’t eat better. Flash forward to last month and it’s easy to see why I had a panic attack when WebMD suggested I was having a heart attack. The panic caused me to faint which lead to an ER visit. After several hours of X-rays and blood tests everything came back 100% normal and healthy. As it turns out it was just bad heartburn. Not that I wanted something to be wrong but it’s embarrassing and frustrating to spend 4 hours and $150 for a doctor to tell you that you’re fine. All that time and money was just the universe’s way of reminding me that the reality is a lot more boring than my imagination.
My unwarranted medical anxiety aside, this lesson can be applied to everyday life. Reality it boring. Don’t waste time worrying about the safety of your next flight. Instead focus on whether or not your metal cock ring will set off TSA alarms. Did your new boyfriend not return your text? Avoid the he doesn’t like me anymore rabbit hole and realize that he probably just fell asleep. Your reality is rarely as interesting as your imagination. Calm down queen.