There is a Mark Twain quote that my father has repeated to me throughout my life: "I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened. Worrying is like paying a debt you don't owe. I have spent most of my life worrying about things that have never happened."
I have been a "worrier" for most of my life. I've heard that phrase repeated by my father through the years as I stressed over everything from elementary school quizzes to the health of my goldfish. In my teenage-hood, the worries were more about my friendships, relationships and college applications. Into adulthood, my stressors were more serious. What would I study in college? What career would I end up in? And to be honest, more relationship drama. Again and again, my dad would repeat, "I have spent most of my life worrying about things that have never happened."
At 25-years-old, my stress is probably the most serious, albeit, boring. Now I worry about bills, taxes, work, etc. and honestly, some relationship drama. However, in the past few months, I am learning to take things with more of a grain of salt. It is almost as if I have enough experience, too much, in fact, for my young age to stress over the small things, even bigger things.
In the past week I've had a pretty large obstacle. This kind of problem would usually destroy me. I would definitely be crying and basically useless until I could get it resolved. When I first found out, I, of course was upset, but I only teared up, got some air, made a call and did all I could to solve it and let it go. It wasn't until later when I sat back down at my desk that I realized I had naturally just handled a situation as well as I could, taken a breath and gone back to work. After all, worrying does not solve anything. I did all I could and moved on with my day.
I know this does not sound like much to most people but it was a big deal for me. As a worrier, I have spent a lot of mental and emotional energy on things that ultimately did not matter at all, or did not deserve that amount of energy. I am a problem solver, and a lot of the time, I cannot rest until I have solved the problem. Hopefully, I have moved on from that phase in adulthood, and this sense of calm will remain.
One part of this calm is from prioritizing my life. My dog, career and health are at the top of my list. I am doing my best to not let other outside stressors interfere with those things anymore, and it feels good. I've always heard that it takes time to learn patience. I think for me, this new side of myself is better in a lot of ways. Not worrying so much has led to better sleep, better outlook and better work. Having patience has stemmed from learning from life's obstacles and moving forward instead of dwelling on the past or future. I will try to continue to focus on the present, and I hope you do too. After all, worrying does no good, I am a walking example of that.
— Contact Emily Rice at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @BDTrice