I used to worry a lot. I remember specifically when I was in the third grade, I worried about everything so much so that I had trouble sleeping. I worried myself right into success in things like school and friendships because I was so afraid of being bad at something, like I would end up in a pit of hungry tigers or worse if I failed. Luckily during the school years, there are things like grades and parents and peers to measure up against and to tell you whether or not you're doing a good job in life. I usually got the 'thumbs up.' I never saw a tiger (except at LSU and the zoo).
I liked being graded. It was concrete evidence that I was a success, or more importantly, proof that I wasn't a failure. Even with all of that positive feedback, I wasn't really concerned with being great, I just wanted to know I wasn't awful. I guess you could call it, "perfectionistic minimalism." I had to be perfect just so I could know I wasn't a failure, but I didn't quite want to succeed because that would be too much stress, too much pressure...more things to worry about.
Classic ktm story:
I was in the first part of elementary school when they tested me for Gifted and Talented classes. I remember the speech therapist, Ms. Polk, brought me into a little office/closet and asked me a bunch of questions like, "Who was Abraham Lincoln?" (I still don't know how knowing who Abraham Lincoln was had to do with my ability to do advanced math for my age, but whatever...) I remember thinking that if I answered all of these questions correctly, things would change and I might have to leave some of my friends. I also struggled with the instinct of trying to please all of the adults around me that I didn't want to throw the ENTIRE thing, so I compromised and answered about half of the questions right. I got what I wanted and didn't wind up having to leave all of my friends. Surprisingly, I was the only kid in the advanced reading group and the advanced math group NOT in Gifted and Talented classes.
I'm 30. Today. I don't worry about most things like I used to. Failure isn't as scary anymore, I suppose because now I've got 30 years of not-failing to back me up. When I was younger, I'd just look forward and see I had more time to mess up. Now that I'm this far through life, at least I've got all of that to fall back on.
It's harder to find a measuring stick for success or happiness once you're out of school. I don't get graded on my job or on my ability to be a good wife or daughter or friend. For the first few years of our marriage, I was trying to figure out how to measure our happiness. I knew that I was happy and that I loved my husband, but how did you measure that? Where was the grade that TOLD you you were doing a good job? A happy husband? No, that couldn't be it. A satisfying love life? No. I needed a stamp, a certificate or finally someone to tell me, lovingly, that I was insane. Thankfully I had Eddie. He helped me to measure our happiness by forcing me to answer the question, "Are you happy?" over and over again until my answer, "Yes." finally rung in my own ears.
He's never really been concerned about how to measure it. He just knew. I envy that.
I do worry a little...I guess that's how I'm built. Now that I'm 30, I feel a bit rushed. We don't have any children, not even any on the way, not even any time soon. I look ahead at that magic number 35, which just leapt closer because there's no longer a 2 in the front of my age. 35 is that scary number in my head when it's too late to have children. It's SO close and we haven't even started.
I just ran into a friend that I haven't seen in years. She's pregnant with her third. Her third. We're the same age. I don't like that measuring stick. I AM insane. Do I want three right now? No. Do I want one someday? Yes. Do I still feel rushed? Yes.
I think it's time for Eddie to ask me that question again.