Overcoming fear of uncertainty: Words from a recovering worry wart.

For as long as I can remember I’ve been a worry wart. Not like I have an anxiety disorder kind, but worry wart none the less. When I was in grade school I was type-casted in the role of Tessie in Annie, the little girl forever going, “Oh my goodness, oh my goodness!”

I think my worrying is rooted in my ability to see the big picture. I look at every choice, every decision as sending me on some sort of far-reaching trajectory. Ripple effect and all that. Thus I’m a planner. I used to be the sort of 1 year, 3 year, 10 year planner.

Not anymore.

Two years ago I had the rug pulled out from under me when my husband and I lost our jobs at the same time. There went years of careful calculations and planning. For three months I was riddled with anxiety. Every dollar I spent I was sweating bullets.

Was this worth it? No. Did it achieve anything? No.

So I learned to let go. Let go of the plans. Let go of my idea of a “perfect life.” And embraced change.

I realized that being happy in life is recognizing that the only thing that is constant about it is change. If you learn how to cope with change, you can handle anything.

Once I took my blinders off that things weren’t going “as planned” suddenly my life was filled with opportunity. Opportunities to learn, opportunities to travel, opportunities to accomplish whatever I wanted to put my mind to.

In the past two years we’ve been in a constant state of flux and many ask, how are you so positive? I am positive because I don’t see obstacles I see opportunity.

Perspective also helps. My boss asked me once when she was stressed about work, “You’re not stressed about stuff, how do you do it?” I shrugged and said, “This just isn’t worth getting worked up over.”

Was there a problem? Yes. Did I handle it? Yes. Did I learned something? Absolutely. But did I let something that, in the big scheme of my life was insignificant, consume me? No way. I didn’t give it permission to.

Many are held back from their life’s true passions because it’s not the right time. They are saving up, waiting for the market to improve, waiting until the kids are older etc. And in some cases this may be wise, but for most of us if you’re waiting for more than six months, you’re waiting too long. Looking back I know that now.

You may not be an expert in what you want to do. That’s ok – learn. But don’t let that hold you back either. The truth is, those of us who truly want to make an impact on our lives and our world there is no path. You have to forge your own.

I’ve had a lot of practice at this working in the realm of social media. Many times there is no road map to do what I do. I gather some information, go with my gut and jump in with two feet. And since the terrain is constantly changing, I’m in uncharted territory a lot. Many times there are no “best practices.” Do I know what’s going to happen? No way. Do I mess up? Sure, but that’s ok. Generally, people are understanding and forgiving, and as long as I learned something it was worthwhile.

Do I still have the opinion that every decision puts us on some sort large trajectory? Yes. Every small decision you make can help you get closer to whatever your goal is. Often small baby steps can add up to big change.

However, I now realize that controlling your trajectory is an illusion. Wasting time worrying about the “what ifs” will get you no where, and inevitably something will happen that you didn’t think of. Shit happens.

None of us can know what the future holds. However, if you learn to recognize and embrace new paths when presented to you, you just might find it better than anything you could have ever imagined. I did.

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  • Melinda

    Good morning ~ I just popped over from Sonya’s blog where I read your post. :) I used to be a planner too, until I realized it was useless! 😉 I still get up with a vague plan for the day, but know that at any time it can, and often does change. Leaning to go with the flow was one of the great gifts I gave myself. It opened up my world to possiblities I could never see for all of my “planning”. :)

  • http://profiles.google.com/kanelstrand Kanelstrand Design

    Planning, perfectionism, anxiety… I know them all too well and I relate to everything you say. But indeed, we need to let go of our ideal of a life. Only after we ditch perfectionism and embrace the challenges life brings us, can we see the countless opportunities! But it takes so much time and self-analysis to achieve this and not all succeed. Thank you for posting such meaningful insights, I am sure that you are helping people.

    I am also so excited to see Melinda has dropped by, she is another amazing source of inspiration and motivation for me!

  • http://fromherenow.wordpress.com/ Colleen

    I am so glad to have found your blog! Not only are we practically neighbors, but I love the spirit of what you are writing about. I can seriously understand what you are talking about here with the anxiety, planning, etc.. I really struggle with that myself and can appreciate that you were able to let that part of yourself transform into something better!

    • Anonymous

      Hi neighbor! I just checked out your blog – so cool! See you around the blogosphere and the neighborhood. :)