^^ Dad’s birthday visit in February. ^^
The other weekend I was talking to my dad while he was driving home from North Hollywood when I mentioned I was starting to really worry about my final project for my Data Analytics course. The project is due March 20 and because I haven’t yet completed all the units, I have absolutely no idea what the project will entail.
Now, it should be noted, I’m a bit of a worrier and when overwhelmed, I’m a big stress-er. I think it goes hand-in-hand with being an ambitious dreamer. Every article or project I’ll excitedly map out in my head brings along a plus one (or plus two) of worry. Can I actually do this? What if this gets rejected everywhere? What if I’ve just gotten by on luck and people suddenly realize I don’t know what I’m doing?
While I was running through my typical, “WHAT AM I GOING TO DO! WHAT IF I FAIL THIS CLASS?! AM I REALLY LEARNING ANYTHING!” speech, my dad sweetly stated — in the way only a 65-year-old with lots of life experience who is stuck in traffic and just wants to get home to plant some flowers could say — “You don’t need to worry about that.”
Don’t need to worry about that! Maybe he didn’t hear me correctly, I thought. I probably responded with something snarky like, “Well thanks retired man whose biggest worry is where he’ll eat fried potatoes for breakfast!”
Fun fact: I’m kind of a snarky smart ass when I’m worried. Or just sometimes to my parents in general. Bless them, they still keep inviting me home — though they took my house keys and replaced the family room couch with two armchairs. There are three of us, you do the math.
After we hung up, I got to really thinking about my dad’s point. I do worry a lot about things I have no control over in the present moment or even just things that might happen. I realized how often I use the words “worry” and “stress” in my daily conversations — even at times when I’m not stressed but just have a lot of my mind.
I always joke that one of the things I love most about my friend Churro is — like my dad — his ability to put things in perspective for me. He dials back the seriousness I place on unnecessary moments with a simple, “Carly, that’s not a thing.” But I think it’s time I started doing a little more of that for myself.
At the end of last year, after burning myself out working two jobs AND trying to write hundreds of pitch letters, I took a step back to re-evaluate why I write. I would work myself into such a state, feeling an invisible, self-imposed pressure to be doing more, that I lost sight of the joy I find in writing. I believed I needed to stress myself out in order to get things done and while this worked for a while, in the end it wasn’t healthy for my brain or body. This year, I’m retraining myself to better understand that relaxation and joy are integral parts to being productive and ambitious. I don’t need to do everything today or this month or even this year.
So my challenge to myself moving forward is to decrease the use of “stress” and “worry” in my vocabulary. Will it change anything? I’m excited to find out and while it might not alter my brain chemistry, I do think it will change how I inspire myself to positively approach new projects, articles, and putting dreams into action.
Because for me, a life without big dreams, that’s just not a thing.
PS. Thank you to my mum and dad for your unwavering sweetness and perspective. I love you and that big owl pillow you bought me to read on in our family room.