This is the first time in all of my years, I have had the nerve to say this phrase aloud. Maybe it’s because I am writing for my blog or maybe it’s because I decided to throw caution to the wind. Honestly, my anxiety has kept this phrase in check as it has been something I thought, but was not brave enough to say aloud. By saying “what’s the worst that could happen?” I thought was essentially “poking the bear” and literally begging for bad things to happen. It was so much easier secretly think it and try to control everything to produce only favorable outcomes. It is so amazing how I thought I was in control of each and every outcome in my life by doing this and not that or by saying this and not that. Would it actually be living a full life if those safe guards were actually true? I can almost say with certainty I would make up a ritual of wearing a certain pair of socks on a cloudy day because the last time I wore those socks the sun started to shine. As I was writing that sentence, I literally imagined how this could snowball into something unimaginable. How many pictures does a person take to get the perfect selfie? How many things in life do you postpone because you are waiting on the perfect time? Trying to put together the “perfect” anything can literally drive you insane. Control is just an illusion to make us think we are in charge. When we fight against what is happening instead of going with the flow, it is then when produce stress, anxiety and depression.
Catastrophic thinking is only focusing on the most irrational worst possible outcome in even the most simple situations. For example, if one of your friends did not call you today, instead of thinking they maybe busy, you think they are mad at you or maybe even hurt. Many of us have catastrophic thinking that has somehow been our guiding light throughout our journey in life. It’s like looking for directions from a broken compass. Yes, it can be viewed as a defense mechanism to protect us from harm, but just as other defense mechanisms, it can have negative effects on a person. The outcome we fear will happen will not only paralyze us, but also cause us to carry around self imposed guilt. What if they find out I am not perfect? What if they laugh at me? What if they find out I really have no idea what is going on? What if they stop loving me? What if I lose friends? What if I fail? These are all questions that come up when we think about the worst possible outcomes of any situation. Two of the most important mantras that have helped me with my thinking is taking a step back and saying to myself “whatever happens, I can cope” and “I am not the first one and I am sure I will not be the last one.” Taking a deep breath and sitting with those thoughts puts a whole new perspective on things. It is okay not to have all of your ducks in a row. It is okay to mess up. It is okay to not know the answer. It is okay to just be okay. The world will not end and the people who love you will love you flaws and all.
“Do not fear failure but rather fear not trying.”
― Roy T. Bennett
Why do firsts have to be so hard? There is the infamous first day of school when we hope to start class with people we already know or are related to. It would be so awkward and scary otherwise. Most children want to ride the bus the first day to start the “will you be my friend” process, but some parents insist on taking them to school. This only adds to the anxiety because walking into the classroom holding your mom’s hand gives off the impression you are afraid and would rather be at home watching cartoons. Everyone is staring and you just want to turn and run. You’re just looking for that one person to connect with so you don’t have to be alone.
There is the first day of college when you leave all of your familiar surroundings to start your academic career in a big new world. No parents around to ask questions or directions. You don’t have your friends around to talk about the new people because you are now the new person. New dorm mates , classes and responsibilities you never thought you would have to deal with on your own and you still don’t know anyone. Who am I going to bond with in class? Who am I going to get notes from? Who am I going to eat my meals with? How do I get to the class or the cafeteria? It’s all confusing and overwhelming and if you don’t ask for help, you end up looking like a lost tourist.
Starting a new job is one of the most exciting and terrifying things we can do. Finally you get the chance to work in the field you went to school for, but you have to learn all of the nuances of the company and the people you work for and with. Of course everyone offers to help you when you need it, but you don’t want to wear out your welcome. We all start with a sense of confidence, but it can quickly turn into ” I should know this already!” So then we don’t want to ask questions because of the fear of our co-workers whispering about the new girl.
The one thing firsts have in common is that it’s a new beginning. No one wants to start out being the newbie, but at least the we take the chance and actually start. As I was watching the 25th anniversary special of Def Comedy Jam, I saw a very old skit of Dave Chappelle. It was then I began to reflect on what it was like to be a newbie. When he first started his comedy, what if he had allowed the fear and anxiety of being a newbie stop him from doing standup? He had to start in order to begin his career. Today he is one of the most rich, famous, funniest and sought after comedians to date. I know I have used being the newbie as the reason I would not go to a function or start a new project. I was worried about not knowing anyone there and not having anyone to talk to. Why be a wallflower when I could be at home binge watching my favorite shows? That does not require me to have to try to interact with anyone and therefore no awkwardness. I was so anxious about starting this blog because it’s something new and I am not an expert on blogging. Before I started, I thought I needed to know everything or I couldn’t start. One day I decided to just start writing and hoped for the best. We don’t have to know everything or wait for the perfect moment before we try something new. Being a newbie means we started and we all have to start somewhere.