worry: or how I almost became an angry cat lady at 19

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Anyone who knows me jokes that I’m an 80 year old woman stuck in a 23 year old’s body. I am one breakup and two cats away from being your grumpy neighbor who doesn’t like the cookies you bring over. Because of my weirdness almost everyone I know has told me at some point in my life that I need to slow down, enjoy my youth, and revel in the beauty of not having much responsibility. Sometimes I think I expect their wisdom and concern to flip on the proverbial light bulb and POOF!  I’ll be all better. But sadly, life doesn’t seem to work that way.

I’ve tried forever to think of what triggered this part of me, and I think it was when I was 19. I cried because I hadn’t started contributing to my retirement fund. (Yes, I know I’m crazy.) I immediately started freaking out and overloaded myself on research until I knew something about retirement options. I didn’t feel better until I was able to calm myself down with facts and statistics- there might have been some Jones Cream Soda involved too. Now this may be absolutely ridiculous, but I was really bothered by how unprepared I was for my future. In high school they don’t teach you much about finances. Everything I knew about money up to that point I’d learned in macro/micro economics. Shout out to Mrs. Presley who is the most incredible human being, and even better teacher.

For these reasons and dozens more I became neurotic not only about my financial future, but my entire personal and professional future. Some have said “hey, good on you for educating yourself!” but I alienated a lot of friends and missed out on a lot of experiences while I was having freak out sessions or staying late at work to look good and hopefully get attention from my bosses to I could hopefully get ahead. (At the time I was working retail so that wasn’t happening.)

Once I realized I was losing friends and driving myself crazy, I wanted to change. Society as a whole preaches “travel while you’re young!” “don’t worry about that stuff!” “ah you’re 20 you have time to figure that out!”. Well yeah that might be partially valid, but I don’t want to be left with the impression that we can be totally nonchalant about these things until it matters. I refused to believe not caring or worrying was the answer. So I decided to retain some of my newly found weirdness, and try to balance things.

Balance is a slow and difficult process. It’s letting go, reforming habits, swallowing pride, and making commitments.  J’s love has given me relief, and I never stress over us.  It’s the last thing I worry about. I threw out my “Future Folder” filled with ideal house floor plans and other stuff that was idiotic to have in the first place. I’ve taken up yoga. That gives me a full hour a day away from e v e r y t h i n g. I read more. I limit myself to using the retirement calculator to once every three months. I go out more. The future doesn’t seem so daunting. There are improvements bit by bit.

So I’ve learned to approach things differently and I’m proud to say I’m a little better today at managing my self-induced stress. This world is filled to the brim with uncertainties, but doesn’t that just bring endless opportunities? Or that’s how I’m trying to think at least. Some days most days are hard. But the payoff balance brings is completely worth it.

So to those who told to to slow down, who lovingly called me “granny” and asked how my circulation was… it’s better.

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