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Slaying the Worry Dragon

13 Feb

I wasn’t sure how I felt about calling Worry a Dragon. It seems kind of inappropriate and someone might laugh because there is some type of scandalous context I’m missing. Suddenly, everyone’s snickering, laughing at me behind my back. I lose my credibility and they never visit my blog again. My blunder spreads through the book world and I start to cultivate a bit of a reputation. No one takes me seriously and all my lifelong dreams and pursuits evaporate into one misguided attempt at a title, which was only ever formulated in the hopes of making you all feel better about worrying. With my reputation a disgrace, my friends and family leave me, and I end up living in a paddleboat in the middle of a river. I can’t swim.

*takes a deep breath*

If you’re still with me… Welcome. And I think you can see how that ridiculous paragraph translates rather well into my topic. Worrying.

I battle Worry how I imagine I would slay a dragon.

I’d put on all the gear, sharpen my blade, and chant internally that I can do this. Nothing like a little positive thinking.

But then when I finally find the dragon’s lair, I imagine my battling going something like this:

I hold out my sword with my aching arm (well out of reach of the dragon, since I can’t actually see the dragon yet).

I didn’t train hard enough for this. I had no idea how heavy a sword could get. I’m already tired, thinking about taking a nap.

The dragon roars, and I see fire sizzle out of the cave entrance. The heat snaps me out of my daydream.

I secure my ridiculously heavy metal helmet. It has a facemask type thing, which makes it so I can’t really see, because isn’t that always how it goes?

It looks like this is it. The creature roars again, still out of sight.

The Big Battle.

The moment I show the dragon, I’m the boss.

So what do I do?

I peer somewhere off into the distance, not focusing on the cave, and I swing the sword around, hoping, praying, desperately wishing, that I’ll beat the dragon.

And that’s kind of how I slay Worry. Flailing and without a true plan of attack. In fact, I’m destined to lose.

Worry can be as big as any dragon. And it’s just as dangerous.

I am a Champion Worrier. The only part that sucks is that I don’t really get anything for the title, and I have rather long, tedious conversations in my head like I showed up above in the first paragraph.

I dwell. I cry out internally. I throw myself down on the ground in defeat (only in my head, of course. I never throw tantrums. *coughs*).

If I had my choice, I’d curl up into a ball and hide in the corner with a fuzzy blanket and music for comfort. I’d plug my ears and yell, “I can’t hear you!”

Not because I’m rude. I have a rather guilty conscience. If I do something and feel badly about it, I dwell and well, worry… for hours and hours.

I don’t plug my ears because I don’t want to hear you. I do it out self-preservation. As I think we all do at times when we’ve reached our max.

One more word from someone and we’re going to explode. We plug our ears for their own good. Of course, they don’t realize it. Ridiculous peeps.

We’re flailing and struggling, and there’s so much ANGST. I hate calling it that because I wasn’t very good at being a teenager when I was an actual teenager. But that’s really the only emotion to define the feeling.

It’s a sense of desperation, a sense of being misunderstood, a sense of yearning to be more than ourselves.

I experience these things even in adulthood, and it makes me a little irritable because nobody warned me.

All I wanted to do was grow up. Then I got here and it was like… Really? This is it?

There are great things about adulthood, but one thing that isn’t great is all the Worry.

I can’t stem the what-ifs.

All of a sudden, randomly at one point in the day, my heart stops. I’m like… I’m wearing a pink shirt. OMG. I read on Twitter that wearing a pink shirt means I hate people with blue eyes. OMG. A major news network just tweeted that if I’m wearing pink I hate people with blue eyes. OMG. Everyone at my office has blue eyes. They’re all staring at me. OMG. I’m going to get fired. OMG. They just passed a law that hating people with blue eyes is illegal. OMG. OMG. OMG.

*panic flail*

And of course, the above is really dramatic. The probability of this ever happening is slight. But this is how the Worry Dragon strikes. It starts with something simple, and then it builds and builds, until I want to scream or cry or curl up in a little ball.

There are so many things we have to patrol now. So many things we have to know to protect ourselves. I can’t help but panic at the sheer vastness. Never have we had to be so accountable for our words and actions.

Everything we set free on the internet, everything we say… It’s all there forever. A stain on us, even if what we said never had any premeditated negative connotations.

This can drive someone like me bananas.

And what’s my plan of attack? Flailing with an imaginary sword I’m not even properly equipped to handle.

The only way I can sometimes move past these mind-numbing internal monologues is to tell people. To free them into the world. Usually in person, because I don’t want a lot of this on record.

Once I’ve released them into the wild, for the first time, I can laugh. Laughter is really the only way to battle back the Worry Dragon.

Which is why I try to bring humor into this blog (you’ll note I qualified that with ‘try’).

I had a really tough day yesterday. I felt like I was falling into a pit of Worry.

The interesting/sad part is that the things that sweep me away into the Worry Sea? None of them have ever happened. Yes, several bad things happened in 2012. Horrible things. 2012 was not a good year for my family. But those things that happened? I never saw them coming.

I never worried over them. I worried about 800,000 other things that didn’t happen.

The Dragon won. Damn, Dragon. I will attack you with my lacking sword!

What do you guys think? Can you relate to all the senseless worry? Some people (like my husband, who I’m jealous of) just seem to strut through their life, never letting anything bother them (I’m not sure I believe this, but by all accounts he swears he rarely worries about things he can’t control).

I think some of us are more sensitive.

That sensitivity has the capacity for great things. But that sensitivity also has consequences, as does anything in life.

Do you have any techniques for battling the Worry Dragon?

A lot of the time I just want to take a deep breath and relax! But my overactive imagination always soars again to see another day. Instead of flying over the danger, I always plummet right into the dragon.

I would have made a horrible knight. Maybe an okay damsel. But dang it, I’d rather be the knight!

Kinley Baker (@kinleybaker)