I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I woke up to my alarm clock on Jan. 2 with this thought in my head: what will the next decade bring?
Anxiety picks its timing strategically.
The end of the holidays and the return to routine is the perfect time to set up the flares of paranoia. I hadn’t even rolled out of bed yet, but my brain was moving at 10-year intervals.
I proceeded to run through a mental list of all the sweeping changes, possible outcomes, predictable events and epic disasters (because I’m really good at imagining those). I even gave myself some allowance for the uncertainty of everything in between.
My default pessimistic brain was firing on all cylinders, while my internal optimistic volleyed with a good offense of happy images of adventures and wishes yet to come true. It was an intense few seconds that felt more like minutes spent watching a bizarre futuristic home movie. I pulled the blankets up over my head to hide.
But here’s the thing: I’m not a fortune teller.
I can’t predict what I’m having for lunch, much less where the cat is going to chuck up a fur ball in the middle of the night (though I can assure you I’m going to step in it), so how in the world was I going to assume to know what the next 10 years would have in store?
I can’t. I don’t have a clue, nor do I want too because that’s sort of like reading the last chapter of a book right after reading the first one, and skipping the real heart of the story in between. It’s the chapters in between that build character (see what I did there?).
That thought calmed me down. So did the years I’ve spent working on my own resiliency. I couldn’t help but laugh at myself, curled up under my duvet, while my dog and cat slept soundly atop the blankets, each slowly opening one eye, to give me the look that suggested they were not amused, nor surprised, by my startling thoughts. They know my anxiety comes in waves. I know it too.
If I don’t give in to it, the wave turns to ripples, washes ashore and fizzles out. The pets returned to their slumber and I got up to get on with my day.
Coffee helped me see this was all a reaction to talk about New Year’s resolutions and me realizing I had none. I consciously decided not to make any. I was completely at peace with my intention to simply transition from one year to the next without any rituals or celebrations.
My intention for the next decade was to go with the flow by realizing I don’t really have control in much, beyond the choices I make and the reactions to their outcomes. The degree of which I will undoubtedly flip out when it doesn’t go my way or the sheer glee I express when it does; these are the only things I can control.
That’s where the anxiety came from: the self-doubt of me making a decision not to give in to the need to track and forecast my achievements and failures, and the fact that I was actually sticking it to it. And I am.
Nice try, anxiety. Nice try.
Let’s take this year one chapter at a time.
Happy New Year to you.