Worrying....



In a previous post I mentioned picking up a postcard from a stationary shop in London that read, "Worry is a misuse of your imagination". I've kept that card propped up on my desk. I also have an extra one framed on my bedroom wall that I can see from my bed. Worry has been a constant companion of mine for some time now. Many years if I'm being completely honest. My wild imagination has been another companion of mine, ever since I was a small child. So the two together make my brain go a little crazy sometimes. Which reminds me of this pic I snapped of some street art in London a few years back. Sometimes my mind tells me wonderful things. But sometimes it tells me lies. It's always a bit of a trick to figure out when that's the case.


As I've talked about, numerous times now, I've been slowly but steadily working towards taking my comp exam. The exam finally took place on Tuesday (March 21st). At the time of writing this, it's been less than a week since taking the exam, so I'm still at least a week and a half (or so) from getting my results. And let me tell you....my friend Imagination is having a grand old time with our old friend Worry. My worry has gone into overdrive and it's getting hard to handle. I've gotten so much better recently at not letting my worrying get out of control and to not constantly descend into worst case scenarios that play out in my head on repeat like a broken record. But since my exam that's been really hard to keep under control. And as a result it's not just my exam I'm worried about, it's starting to spill out into other areas of my life. Like, on exam day, it wasn't just my exam I was worried about! It was everything!

For example:

What if I oversleep?
What if I get sick the morning of and can't leave my apartment?
What if getting ready goes fine but then I trip and fall down the stairs on my way to my car?
What if my car isn't there, what if it was stolen? (No joke, I actually had a bad dream about this at about 6am on exam day.)
What if my car is there but it won't start?
What if there's a bad accident on the highway and I'm late?
What if the garage I need to park in on campus isn't open and I'm late because I have to find parking somewhere else?
What if I get hit by a car crossing the street from the parking garage to my building where the exam is?
What if I get stuck in the elevator on the way up to the 5th floor where I have to meet the person who's administering the exam?

Guess what? None of those things happened. You want to know the worst thing that happened between getting up that morning and getting my exam questions from our program manager at the start of my exam? 

I got a paper cut on my knuckle. Yep. A paper cut. That's it. That was the "big tragedy". It didn't even hurt! I just looked down and saw this red line on my hand. 

The exam itself went alright. I actually loved ALL the questions on the exam. There were 8 total, I only had to answer 3. But they were all really great questions, it was hard to pick. Some were definitely easier than others but I could have answered them all if I had to. I chose my questions and set to work answering them in the 4 hours I had. That's when the worry started to set back in.

4 hours isn't as long as you think it is.

That time went by so quickly. Like, lightening fast. My advisor had given me the tip of 1 hour to outline, 2 to write, and 1 to edit. It ended up being more like 1 hour to outline, 3 to write and then frantically editing for 5 minutes during the "time cushion" I had to email my exam to the program manager. It was NOT enough time. Not even close.

Then afterwards I was looking at the questions again and realized I had answered one of them wrong in a way other than what was specified. O. M. G. I felt horrible. That was when the worrying came crashing back in. I felt like I'd hit a brick wall. I couldn't believe it! I'd read that question at least 6 times before and while writing! Each time I'd misread it! How is that even possible!? I was devastated. (I still am if I'm honest.) But the exhaustion of all the weeks preparing and then a few sleepless nights leading up to the exam just finally did me in. I cried all the way home, couldn't eat dinner, and cried myself to sleep. I cried off and on the next day as well. Mostly from just how overwhelmed I felt from actually doing the exam as well as knowing it was over. It was such a monumental thing and now it was done. But the fear was starting to set in. No matter how much I talked about it with people online, with my friends, with my mom, with my therapist, the doubt started creeping in.

What if I failed my exam?

Most people will tell me not to even think that. But too late. I've been thinking that from the moment I realized I flubbed that question. Yes, sure, I know. It was still my longest answer on the exam, it was still answered in great detail, it still basically answered the question. The likelihood of being failed on that one answer is pretty small. But we can't help what we worry about right? Even if I had answered that question exactly as it was written, I'd be finding something else to worry about and torture myself with for the next week or so while I wait for the results. So what do I do to try to not worry? I have an idea.

I'm going to write down all the big things I'm worried about right now. Just write them down here, publish this blog, and let them go. Kind of the digital equivalent of writing them down on a scrap of paper and then symbolically burning them. I'm terrified of fire and accidentally burning my apartment to the ground so this is definitely a safer option in more ways than one.

Things I'm worried about:

1. That I've failed my exam.
Chance that this will happen? Low.
If it does happen? I'll retake the exam.
Will this kill me? No. I'll live. But I will be really annoyed. I'd get over that. Eventually.

2. My student loans for my final year will get screwed up and I will either not get them or will receive a drastically lower amount than needed.
Chance this will happen? Low(?) I don't know, it should go through just fine, but I'm not sure.
If it does happen? It would really suck. No London. I'd have to back out of the conference. I might lose my apartment.
Will this kill me? No. But my parents might if I have to move back in with them. Let's hope that doesn't happen.

3. Someone will break into my apartment and steal all my things (a recurring fear/worry, but is it paranoia if it's actually happened? That's another story).
Chance this will happen? Really low. Because I'm so paranoid about locking my door. Because it has happened and I never want to experience it again.
If it does happen? I'm insured. Learned that lesson the hard way.
Will this kill me? No. But I am reminded I need to back up my hard drive again.

4. I won't graduate on time (due to anything and everything from having to retake my comp exam to not finishing my dissertation on time to freak natural disaster--I told you I have a wild imagination.
Chance this will happen? Low. My advisor has promised to get me graduated on time and I'm equally committed to that goal.
If it does happen? Would open up a whole other can of worms financially.
Will this kill me? No, but it would prolong my time finishing my degree if I have to write my diss while finding/working a full time job.

5. Something horrible will happen to me or someone I care about.
Chance this will happen? It's life. Horrible things happen to us all the time. That's the risk we take living our lives.
If this does happen? Horrible things have devastating effects. It would be miserable if something horrible happens.
Will this kill me? Most likely no. I've been through horrible things before. I've lost people I loved, I'd had friends turn away from me, I've been hurt, I've had set backs and disappointments. But none of that, even the really truly horrible things, has killed me yet. It's only made me stronger. Hmmm. There's a lesson there....

We can spend so much precious time and energy worrying about things that haven't happened/probably never will happen. If you're like me, you probably try to convince yourself that by worrying about all these horrible things that probably won't even happen you're creating a mental battle plan for how you'll deal with these catastrophes that, reminder, having happened. This is one of the lies our brains tell us. That by worrying endlessly about hypothetical catastrophes we're "preparing for the worst". God, what a horrible way to live! I'm tired of doing this to myself. Aren't you?

I'm committing myself to posting this blog and focusing on things I actually have some control over.

Like, work on my prospectus and locking my door. Everything else, I just have to wait and see. My loans will probably go through just fine (and add to my long term mountain of debt, yippee), I will pass my comp exam (so my prospectus had damn well be ready), and at some point something horrible probably will happen, because that's life. I'm not going to hide in my apartment because I'm afraid of falling down the stairs and breaking a bone. You deal with life as it happens. The good and the bad. You can't live things that haven't happened yet, not matter what your brain tries to tell you. So I'm going to live my live, as it happens, and (try to) not worry about things that aren't realities in my life.

Is there something you've been worried about? Tell me in the comments. You can use the same format I did above. What's your worry? What's the honest chance it will happen? What if it does happen? Will it kill you? Share your worries like I did and then let them go in this digital bonfire of worries.

Burn baby, burn!

xo
Andrea

Comments

  1. I feel like anytime I read or watch anything of yours I connect with someone just like me. It is odd, but we seem very much like the same people. I love all of your videos and your posts. I hope you keep up writing.

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    1. I'm always so happy when I hear that what I write resonates with people. Sometimes, here on the blog especially, I feel like I'm just talking to air lol. Thank you for reading the blog and watching my videos Christina! It's so nice to find people who I have things in common with. :) xx

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    2. Yeah, that is one reason I am so nervous about starting a blog. I am afraid I will have nothing to say that will resonate with people or people will think my thoughts aren't interesting.

      It is interesting how we meet people, especially on the internet. Question do you follow me on Instagram. This might sound odd, but I think you might like some of the stuff I post since we are so similar.

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    3. I think you have to just start writing. I never think people will relate to what I write but a lot of times they do. :) I wasn't following you but I just sent a request. I usually don't follow people if their accounts are set to private, but I'd love to follow if you want me to! :)

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    4. I have it set to private to keep the odd people out. I have had some weird people try and try to follow my Instagram. I accepted the request. Thank you very much.

      I keep hearing that from people. The problem is I don't know what to write. Do I write about life? Do I write about my weight loss journey? Do I write about my obsession about pens? There are just so many options. lol

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    5. Totally understand keeping it private. Happy to be following you now, you've got some great posts on there!

      When I started this blog it was for a class project, we had to make a blog to upload our assignments to. That's what my first few posts on here were for lol. But I had a feeling I'd want to keep going after the class was done but wasn't sure what it would be. So I just came up with a title and concept that would let me talk about whatever. I can talk about my research or I can ramble about anything else. It's worked pretty well for me. So it sounds like you might want to do a general lifestyle blog/blog diary that would allow you to talk about weight loss, pens, life thoughts, etc. I would totally read that by the way. ;)

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  2. Thank you that means a lot.

    I think if I could just think of a name I feel like it would be easy to start writing.

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    1. The name is the hardest part lol, I don't envy you that. I got lucky that no one had Research and Ramblings.

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  3. The hardest part is trying to describe myself in a phrase. I feel like I don't know myself well enough for that. Lol

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