During a lovely phone conversation this afternoon, the topic of worrying came up. At first, I laughed it off and teased my friend on the other end about their “silly” worries. I defined their worries as insignificant and brushing the idea off. But later as I thought more about my own worrying habits reflecting on the phone conversation, I realized that if I were to sit down and talk about my own worries to someone else….they would probably do the same to me. In fact if I were to list out the things that I worry about to someone else, they would most likely think I was insane!
Truth be told, I come from a lineage of worry-warts. On my mother’s side, several family members struggle with anxiety and even take medication to help cope with their anxieties.
A little research to help my family seem a little more normal, because according to the facts and figures anxiety is extremely prevalent among Americans. Look at this: 40 million people in the U.S. are anticipated to experience an impairment because of anxiety this year! Of the 65% of Americans who take prescription medications daily, 43% take mood-altering medications daily! Paxil and Zoloft (two popular anti-anxiety medications on the market) ranked 7th and 8th of the top ten prescribed medications prescribed in the U.S.! Don’t believe me, read it yourself – http://www.anxietycentre.com/anxiety-statistics-information.shtml. 🙂
So holy shit. Worrying, among Americans, is normal. We are conditioned to do this. It isn’t just because we may be genetically predisposed to worry or because we are so bored that worrying is an enjoyable thing to do, it is because we quite possibly live in a world that TELLS US TO WORRY! The news just reaffirms my point. School shootings, murders, robbery, the Internet, wars, etc. The are events that happen frequently throughout the world on the daily basis that scare us all.
So…we worry. And that is for good reason.
To help you understand my own worrying, I will tell you a little story. Nothing like anecdotal things to help me seem even more crazy then I already do a fine job of expressing…;)
When I was 14, my own anxieties began to really take shape. I remember my first panic attack actually almost like it was yesterday. I was at a summer day camp that my mom had signed me up to participate in to get me out of the house and doing something while she went back to work downtown for the first time in 7 years. I knew none of the other girls in the camp and felt insecure, dorky, out of place. As a typical 14 year old, I was mad that my mom wouldn’t let me just sit at home all day for a week stuffing food in my mouth and watching television all day long unmonitored at my own free will. I was also a proud new owner of a Nokia cellphone (which was a brick compared to today’s iPhones). One day at camp, I was feeling very anxious and uncomfortable. I decided to step away and call my mom to ask her to come pick me up and take me home. She didn’t answer. And for some strange reason, this worried me. What could she be doing?! Why wouldn’t she answer?! Was she okay?! Did she get in a car accident on her way to work in the morning and nobody knew?! These ridiculous anxieties formed in my head and I couldn’t get them to go away. I called her again and again. I needed her right then! The fact that I, for the first time in my life, felt completely unconnected from my mother scared the hell out of me. So, I panicked. I started crying, hysterically unable to pretend that I was okay amongst all of the campers that made me feel so out of place. The feeling in my gut was wrenching and I felt trapped and the emotions of panic just welled up inside of me. It wasn’t until my phone finally buzzed in my pocket and I answered it to hear my mom’s concerned voice on the phone that I felt like everything was going to be ok, a weight lifted off my shoulders.
This being said, we worry about the one’s we love. And that is a beautiful thing. We worry about how they are doing, where they are, whether or not they are happy. It makes us human and is one of the most genuine ways that we express our concern for those we care about.
So worry, worry away. But while you’re worrying, just remember there are a million things to be happy about. Feel relief in the fact that someone in this world loves you. And try not to sweat the small stuff.
I’ll leave you with one of my favorite verses-
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? Matt 6:25-27 NIV
Let it go.