Is it ever worth it to worry? According to Dictionary.com — worry is to torment oneself with, or suffer from, disturbing thoughts. How terribly accurate.
I agreed to the voluntary affliction of worry when I was six years old. Worrying came as naturally to me as breathing, except with much less benefit. I used to worry all the time. I thought if anything could go wrong it would. I was convinced anything happening out of the ordinary would harm me, or kill me. Or harm those I loved, or kill them. Sometimes I would imagine tripping down the stairs and breaking my neck. Or having my head pop off when I got red-faced angry with my sisters. Or being missile attacked by a high-speed boulder in a rock fight. The list was endless— exhausting.
My Mom called me a worrywart. Attractive right? An anxiety ridden raised bump caused by a virus? Hmmm, I guess I did cause the bump on mom’s body, and if you call a sperm a virus, I guess I could be an accurate representation of a worrywart.
However, it’s a strange phrase Worry Wart. Where did that phrase even come from? Let me enlighten you, it came from a 1956 comic strip character; Worry Wart was the name of a character that instigated worrying in others. He didn’t actually worry. So mom had it all wrong in calling me a Worry Wart. I was a victim of the Worry Wart.
I didn’t enjoy being labelled as a worrier. So I relabelled my tendency. I no longer worry, I simply consider all the possible negative outcomes. I clearly recall my first experience in considering all the possible negative outcomes. Normally my older sister Cheryl and I would arrive home from school about twenty minutes before mom rolled in from work. I had just enough time to crawl up on the kitchen counter, dig through the baking supplies, locate the bag of chocolate chips, and scarf down a few handfuls before mom could catch me in the act. Naturally I paid Cheryl a small portion of my allowance for her silence.
On this particular winter afternoon many, many, many minutes after my healthy after-school snack, mom was MIA. I clearly remember standing on my bed, on my tiptoes, and peering out the window for any sign of my missing caregiver. Suddenly strange thoughts began to form in my mind. I began to imagine mom had a car accident. Or that she slipped on the ice, refused stitches, and bled to death. Or that she was kidnapped, and was being held for ransom for her tiara from her historic beauty pageant. Being little, the minutes seemed like hours. My stomach shook uncomfortably from all the grasshoppers jumping around inside of it. Worry soon has me planning for a future without mom. Tears form as I contemplate dad’s next marriage, and me as the new Cinderella wearing mom’s tiara.
All at once car lights flash in the window. Mom swings into our driveway with our younger sister Shannon in the front seat. She’s travelling without a car seat, or even a seat belt, because that’s how families drove back then.
I suppose mom may have wondered why she got the biggest hug in the world when she stepped through the door, but more than likely she just wanted it to end. She still needed to create supper before my giant dad came home from work. “Fe fi fo fum, give me food for my tum tum tum.”
As it turns out, Mom was late getting home because she had tea with Shannon’s babysitter. All my brainpower had been wasted on worry. On the upside, I may have burnt off a few chocolate chip calories.
These days I’m at the point in my life where I worry very little. It’s undoubtedly because I’m closer to being dead. Now, I mostly take life on as it happens.
‘Worry is like walking around with an umbrella waiting for it to rain.’—Wiz Khalifa. That doesn’t sound extremely productive does it? Walking around with a stick that pops out shelter on a perfectly wonderful day? So how about we drop the deadbeat umbrella, and heed the words of Hagrid from J.K. Rowlings, Harry Potter, “What’s comin’ will come and we’ll meet it when it does.” Good idea Hagrid. I agree, life would be far less tormenting if we stopped the process of worshipping our problems with worry. When we succumb to those disturbing thoughts, we are simply reinforcing the idea that we’re not good enough, or strong enough to manage the temporary obstacles which pop up in our lives. We undermine ourselves by worrying.
We deserve more than uncertainty. We can stay positive. We have the power to influence our focus and feelings. We have a fierce inner roar to deal with any unexpected setbacks in our path. We are so bloody capable it’s scary. Now show your grit, bare your teeth, and get your monstrous life on. Grrrr.