047/2024 – “Stressing All The Little Stuff…”

Lyrics: “Punches” – Frank Turner, 2022

Earlier this week I sort of promised another post about what I took away from Bryony Gordon’s books or in which way I could relate to some of it. But then life got in the way with busy days at work and the intention to get more sleep. Also getting ready for my trip to London tomorrow !!

One of Bryony’s struggles is an issue I myself already had identified as one of my bigger problems and had already been working on. But reading about her take on it gave me another helpful perspective. And that struggle is “excessive worrying”. About what? About anything and everything. I think I have always done that. Less about big catastrophes happening to me or loved ones or the world in general.

Some years ago for instance for a long time almost every time I left my apartment I worried, that I hadn’t lock the door properly or left open a window. At the worst times I turned around after five minutes to drive back home to double-check. I don’t recall when or how I lost that worry or why it only ever shows up very occasionally now. 

It might seem weird (or maybe not) but a while ago I realized that my default mindset is in fact “worry”. As in worry in regards to myself and how I am perceived. Worrying about what I do and say. Worrying that I am not good enough. That I’m an imposter and a fraud (that’s a fear manifesting at work most of all). That I am not liked. That I am not likeable. Worrying about how I utterly fail in life. These worries took different forms and extent in the past. There were times when I didn’t worry all that much (or I have blocked those times out in my memory) and times when I worried a lot. 

I’m sorry if this sounds like a “Woe is me” pity party, but that is what it felt like for so long and far more often than I’d like to admit. And sometimes I still worry more than I should, but – and that needs capital letters – BUT: with realizing that my default mindset is dialled to “worry” I also strangely enough realized that it doesn’t have to be that way. That it’s just one setting on the dial I can just change back from, if that makes sense. Or to maybe put it in another way, that thinking these worrying thoughts doesn’t mean they are the truth. Which I guess is true for all of our thoughts. At least the thoughts about ourselves and other people. I’ve finished Bryony’s “No Such Thing as Normal” today and was glad to read similar advice and revelations. 

I’m afraid (look, worry again) I’m not making myself clear here, but I can’t put it any other way yet. So maybe I give you an insight into all the “little W” worries (in the style of little t traumas, a concept I still plan to read up on) from this week.

  • When I had a bout of sniffles I worried I’ve caught the plague right before my trip even though I’ve hardly been among or around other people  Of course I haven’t gotten COVID. I took a test to prove it.
  • I worried, that the driver behind me was flashing their lights because I did something wrong (drove too slow, forgot to signal?). After dialling down the worry setting I thought about what else they might have wanted to tell me, which my car’s system hadn’t yet. I then notice that my tank cap door wasn’t closed properly.
  • Someone let me know that they can’t make it to a work meeting I’ve invited them to and asked to send them meeting dates for the rest of the year to make sure they can schedule it in. We don’t schedule these meetings for the whole year in advance. Of course I then worried that we should have done that and why I didn’t think of that?
  • In another project an email I had prepared to be sent out from person X didn’t reach all of the recipients. When I called person Y whom we hadn’t heard back from yet, I found out I had a typo in the email address I gave X for sending out the email. Of course I worry that X and Y now think I’m stupid. And while I’m at it: I’m convinced that Y has some more objections to the whole project to begin with. I can already feel this last worry being more persistent and I hope I can ignore that for the next few days when I’m off work!
  • If someone (again at work – that’s what I do most the time in a regular week) doesn’t understand my thoughts on something , I worry that they didn’t get my point because I did a bad job explaining it. It’s never my first impulse to assume that they just did a poor job of getting my point.
  • When I see my supervisor’s or department head’s number flash on my phone at work, my first impulse for so long was to worry that I will be told off for messing up my last assignment. Or anything else. I’m glad I’ve at least managed to dial back that worry a bit too.
  • Let’s leave work: Yesterday I found out that due to a strike in France some of the Eurostar connections to London over the weekend are cancelled. Mine is still going. But I still worry that this might change for some reason in the next 12 hours and that I will be stranded in Brussels and can’t make it to Mincemeat tomorrow evening.
  • Talking about the Eurostar and Brussels: After I’ve failed to take the correct lane for the easiest route on the last stretch the last two times I’ve driven there, this week I spent an ungodly amount of time looking at the route I have to take on Google Streetview. That’s exceptionally crazy, because I usually schedule more than enough time to arrive in time anyway and thus it doesn’t really matter if I have to do an extra round through the weird road system of central Brussels . But spending too much time on Streetview was what I did.
  • The last – irrational and mostly dialled back – worry of the week / day is kind of new. At least it seems to be showing up a bit more often recently. When I park my car on an incline and pass in front / behind it on the downwards side I sometimes worry (for a millisecond) that I didn’t properly put on the brakes and the car will start to roll and crash into me. I definitely know that this is irrational, because I try to remember putting on the brakes exactly because of that worry. I’m also pretty sure I know the source of this: years ago there had been a moment, when I didn’t put on the brakes properly and my car started rolling down and possibly dinged but didn’t damage the car in front. I checked it and the other car’s owner checked it and it was fine. But it obviously left an impression on my psyche. And I have no idea why this comes back to haunt me now years later.

Minds are weird as fuck, aren’t they?

So, this was a little insight into my weird mind. All in all I’m glad that I’ve learned quite a bit about why my mind or any mind works the way they do. And that I don’t have to believe everything it tells me. Far from it! 

There are so many sad and terrifying things going on all over the world at the moment and I do have thoughts on some of them. A lot of ambiguous ones, because the world isn’t as black and white or good and bad as too many wannabe pundits want to make us believe. I often don’t know what to believe. Sometimes I think I should at least share these doubts and ambiguous thoughts here anyway. But then I don’t, because while I read and think about a lot of what is going on elsewhere and while I do form opinions on it, I honestly don’t want to then also spend time putting it into words here. I want this to be a more joyful place or at least a more personal place. I’m once again owning my privilege here (and of course worrying about that as well) in the way that all the terrible things happening all over at the moment not directly affect me. So I can choose to not write about it and focus on more joyful things:  

To quote my favourite musical (which I’ll see once again in just a little over 24 hours away) 

The world is a mess. Small flashes of joy, it’s all any of us can hope for.

Ewen Montagu in “Operation Mincemeat”
Fortune Theatre with the Operation Mincemeat marquee, basked in yellow light at night
Operation Mincemeat at the Fortune Theatre, 2023 (I was sure I have a more recent photo of that view…)

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