The worry warrior

sad-faceSome people don’t care about much. I wish I was one of them. I care about a lot of stuff. Some of it is valid — who will take care of my cats if they outlive me — but most is stupid. Really, really stupid stuff.

It started early in life. When I was in the first grade my class took a field trip to an ice creamery. As a very hip 6-year old I carried a “purse” and a schoolbag (this was pre-backpack). In the school bag was a detached zippered pouch that contained my pencils. I worried about those pencils. They were yellow #2 pencils, the standard kind that cost next to nothing.

I clearly remember the teacher telling us to leave everything in the classroom except what we would need on the trip. This was before peanut allergies and epi pens so there was nothing anyone needed.  (That would make us all hands free for touching, eating and pushing each other!)

However I (being hip) took my “purse” which had embroidered hankies and a quarter and my pencil pouch. The pouch was too big to fit in my purse. Neither had shoulder straps so both of my hands were full.

That was a problem when we got the ice cream treat. Fortunately my teacher took the pouch and put it in her oversized bag. I worried about that pouch all the way back. There was nothing special about the pencils. There wasn’t even a red one in the pack.

I worry about being late. Or early. Sometimes I worry about getting there at all. Each event has a prescribed timing. There is the fashionable 5 to 10 minutes late for a social event (except for dining – I am always on time or early for food) and the 5 minutes early for appointments.

Sometimes I don’t know where I’m going so I allow a few extra moments for that wrong turn. It always works out.

It’s not the end of the world if I am late or early. I don’t have any nuclear codes so why do I worry? No one really cares, not even the doctor who is running a half hour late.

Then there are all those mysterious diseases. Google has expanded my life and my realm of worry. If I get a symptom I Google it. I always assume I have the worst possible disease, one that only happens in .0001% of the population. (Strangely, that is my chance of winning the lottery which is my long-term financial plan.)

As an example I have been researching dry eye. Did you know that there are mites that live on your eyelashes? They can cause horrible things. Despite the fact that no one can beat my face hygiene, I am obsessed with it. (It’s on my list to ask the doctor. Doctors love me. I give them great cocktail party stories.)

Do you worry?

This post was inspired by Autumn Ashbough, a fellow worrier.

 

55 thoughts on “The worry warrior

  1. I don’t always think of myself as a worrier, but I can be a little obsessive, and that falls into the same category, I think. However, I am averse to that label, and have chosen to think of myself as simply being uber-careful and attentive to the details in life, where some people choose to take an easier approach. I am very skilled at finding a way to positively justify my behaviors. I suggest you put your creativity to good use and reframe “worrier” to something much kinder. Maybe you’re really just extremely responsible, and you know, we need more people with a strong sense of responsibility. 🙂

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    • Haven’t heard the word “reframing” since I worked! I am the super uber! I agree with you. I don’t think of it as a negative trait. Sometimes I wish I could control it better but it has served me very well.

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  2. I got tired reading all the things you worry about but the symptom thing is on my list. I google anything that is not normal. I think Mark Twains quote was something like, don’t read medical books, you can die of a misprint.

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  3. Reading all these comments reassure me, we’re not alone in the worrying department. i too am always pulling out my hair…what little I have. When I recap all the things I worried about that didn’t happen, I should be quite embarrassed. If all my fears came true, I’d be dead, or at least in a coma, in a shelter speaking in tongues.

    Sigh…but I do think it’s normal to worry.

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  4. Yep, I am a worrier… Olympic worthy. I was a worrier as a kid and it has gotten worse as I have gotten older. As Ruby Ronin commented, it becomes paralyzing. I found I had to do double duty worrying because I had to make up for the worrying that CH doesn’t do. He is not a worrier, although I think living with me for 43 years may have made him a bit of worrier… 😀 I did not know about mites on eyelashes but you can bet I won’t be googling. I wear contacts and am hoping the lens solution helps with mites and also I wash my face with a wash cloth and always wash my lids and eyelashes so there is that. I don’t do Dr. Google, it makes me worry! Kate this post and the comments makes me worry less about worrying… 😀 I think!

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    • I worried a lot more as a kid. I tend to be a loner yet I wanted to fit in. Conflict! Although I had really good friends, I never wanted to be with any of them 24/7. Today people value individuality. (If they don’t, don’t tell me or I’ll worry!) My husband is the most laid back person. He says it’s from raising 4 kids. We even each other out.

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  5. I get my worrying gene from my mother. Most of my worries are in the very early morning hours between 3-5am. All of my “closet of fears” come out then, and my wife tells me I whimper as I’m apparently doing it. It must be quite a turn-on for her.

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  6. I used to waste time worrying about things that never came to pass:

    * Someone’s a few minutes late coming home . . . OMG! They’re DEAD!
    * A challenging test . . . OMG! I”m going to spend my life begging on a street corner.

    If we do not control our thoughts, our thoughts control us.

    These days, I try not to waste time in “idle worry” about things outside my control by reminding myself (as many times as is necessary) that:

    * Most things we worry about never happen anyway.
    * Worry is interest paid on a debt I may not owe.
    * If the apocalypse arrives tomorrow, I want to enjoy today.
    * Don’t worry, be happy.

    Practice makes perfect ~> Mountains become boulders. Boulders become rocks. Rocks become stones. Stones become pebbles.

    And pebbles become nothing more than dust in the wind.

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  7. I’m the official worrier for the whole family. They know they can count on me. My motto is, “If you worry enough, the event could not possibly be as bad as you imagine.”

    I am an expert. I get double mileage out of worrying, because I can worry in reverse. “What would have happened if….”

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  8. I knew about the eye mites because I worked in an ophthalmology office for several years. I don’t worry that much. Of course, I worry about the kids, especially now that they have cars and are on their own, although I find that I only really worry if I know they are going on a long trip somewhere. Otherwise, out of sight out of mind 🙂

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  9. I can very much sympathize with you on the time thing. I REALLY hate being late to things, which makes me think I need to live in Europe somewhere for a few months and then realize: no one cares. Even when I mentally tell myself that the world will not explode if I’m 15 minutes late, I still freak out.

    I am also very paranoid about going by the rule book and following every single little instruction, and I blame this on working in Japan. In Japan, if you didn’t do everything on the list–and read your boss’ mind and go even beyond what they required–you were sub-par. Where in the US, we tend not to sweat the details (too much). So now in grad school, I worry about really minute things such as: did he tell us to number the pages? What format should we use for the paper? Is there a certain source for the pages she told us we have to use? Usually when I ask the professor these questions, they just laugh and say “whatever, all I want you to do is write a good paper.”

    I get anxiety attacks a lot too, and I hate it. I think it’s from the constant worry of everything in life and it paralyzes your body like a disease. It’s truly awful. I find that yoga helps A LOT.

    Good luck and great post… very easy for a lot of us readers to relate.

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    • When I was in school I second guessed everything. When I took my certification test many years ago my mantra was “I only need to pass. I don’t need to score 100.” No one would ever know my score just if I was certified or not.

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  10. Do I worry!!!! Notice the exclamation marks, not question marks. There is nothing and almost no one (family and friends) that I don’t worry about. I worry about everything. It rules my life. I know how useless it is…but that doesn’t stop me! 😦

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  11. this hits so close to home, Kate! I was worse when I was younger, but the worry wort roots are deep. Yep, cats, outdoor plants in hurricane (this weeks worry), people in hurricane, gas shortage in hurricane, flooding…airplanes passing overhead, and on and on…no, wait the last one is a story I’m working on for webmd. 😉
    I’m glad we can gather together here: I’m a worrier, too. *And everyone said, Welcome!* lol

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  12. I worry about the time keeping thing, and would rather be an hour early than 10 minutes late. Better still to have a trial run to test the route. This was why it was such a miracle I went to NZ on my own in 2010!
    Pencils, not so much. My teddy bear as a child yes, as he’s stuffed with straw and could go rotten if he gets wet.

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  13. I used to worry quite a bit, but lately much less so. I was a perfectionist as a child, but outgrew that nonsense along the way. The only things that stress me anymore are decorating/remodeling decisions + medical visits/procedures. As for the rest, I do as a friend taught me to say: “Oh well, whatever!”

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  14. Of course I love this post. And, yes, I know about the mites on your eyelashes — they can cause little bumps on the rim of your eyelids. You can use expensive wipes to get rid of them or Johnson’s baby shampoo.

    Various houseguests wondered why I had baby shampoo in my shower for the longest time. Luckily, I was smart enough to get rid of it before my in-laws visited. Because of course I worried about getting their hopes up.

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