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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pessimism Epiphany

Jeremiah 29:11 "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"

I'm definitely a "glass is half empty" type person. Which type are you? And why? Get out your boxing gloves. It's time for a Nature vs. Nurture smackdown!

At a family dinner with my in-laws (I still feel weird calling them that, but it's way easier than "my boyfriend's family," which is what they were for four and a half years) on Sunday night, an interesting topic came up.

My sister-in-law's husband (let's call him "Bob" because... well, because that's his name) said something about how I seem to always imagine the worst case scenario. This is a jinormous understatement. I am the definition of a worry wart, even though I will try to pretend sometimes that I'm all free and easy and who cares about danger? Not me! I laugh in your face, danger. Ha! That's a fun little game I play in my head, but even if it temporarily fools you, I know the truth. In reality... I'm about 87 percent scaredy-cat and only 13 percent open to trusting things will work out. Pessimism in person, that's me.

Anyway, Bob's (very astute) point was that I need to relax more and just have fun in life. I agreed and said something like, "Yeah, I know. But it's hard to do that when you've been conditioned over years and years to just wait for the next thing to go wrong. This year is probably the calmest of my entire life, but it's actually stressing me out because there's no trauma, no catastrophes, and barely any drama. How long can this last?"

We went on to discuss who in the family would take care of my and hubby's (future) kids if we both were to die in some horrific car accident simultaneously, leaving poor little Henry and Mikey (not their real names) as orphans. My father-in-law (whose 85-year-old mind is still sharp as a pickax) said it was pointless to discuss it since the odds of something happening to either of us are minuscule, and the odds of us both dying at once are next to nothing. We'd have a better chance of winning the lottery, even though we don't play! "I know, I know that," I said. "But I can't feel at peace about this until we figure it out. Just in case. Because you never know...." You never know. That's my excuse for letting myself get all worked up and worry-filled on a regular basis. That's why I can't trust things will work themselves out... or that God will keep His promise to work out His plan for my life.

This whole conversation sparked a little epiphany in my brain. See, I've been really stressed out lately, and I couldn't figure out why. Everything is going well. I'm in my first year of marriage to my perfect guy. I have a great job, and I get to do it with people I consider good friends. I have two (spoiled but) adorable kittens, and an awesome house to call home. My family finally accepts my husband as part of my life, so there's no more drama about that. All told, things are going really well for me... so WHY am I so stressed out?

Answer: I am already anticipating the next tragedy, which is surely crouching just around the corner waiting to devour my too-good-to-last, finally-not-horrible life in one huge bite.

Do you guys ever struggle with this "waiting for the Thing that will surely ruin my life" type of emotional complex? Although I bet I'm hard-wired with few optimism genes (aka "nature"), I'm guessing my personal history (aka "nurture") makes me an extreme example of this type of pre-pessimistic fear. So who wins the boxing match, nature or nurture? Um, neither. I win. By figuring out it was the lack of stress that was... stressing me out. Go figure.

Still, it helped to label it and get it out in the open... or on the internet. I'm sure I haven't seen the last of my "the worst is yet to come" fear issue, but at least for now... for today... I ain't gonna let it win. Take that, fear! Booyah!

1 comment:

  1. The year of 2009 conditioned me to anticipate all things tragic--and, as you know, it landed me at urgent care with a racing heart. I still catch myself worrying (i.e., worrying about Dave until he returned home tonight--a mere 10 minutes later than I had expected him to be home).

    I'm realizing that I have to leave it in God's hands, as cliche as that sounds, and trust that He will be with me if the worst happens. If I'm trusting Him to take care of me, there's really no point in worrying.