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W – Worrying

A-Z Survival Guide to Life

W – Worrying

This is the twenty-third installment in the A-Z Survival Guide to Life I am writing for my boys.

Worrying is something I am really good at. I spent the first years of both of your lives worrying about fevers and what horrible illness they might be foreshadowing, I worried about potential accidents and traumas that might befall you, I worried about everything.  And your Dad worried because I worried, I being the “expert” on children in our family.  When you approached your teen years I worried about bad influences, and the possibility that somewhat questionable friends might introduce you to drugs, cigarettes, alcohol and risky behavior.  I made you both watch episodes of “Intervention”, followed by discussions of where things went wrong with the person being highlighted in the episode.  I always said if we kept the lines of communication, we would be okay.  And I think you guys have turned out quite well, despite all my worrying and fretting.

If I hadn’t worried, would you have turned out the way you did? If I hadn’t played every horrible scenario out in my brain, before you walked out the door, went out with your friends, swam in the pool, chopped bamboo down in the backyard with an axe (and the list goes on) would you have made it this far in one piece.  I don’t know.

And you know how I always say “Be careful” when you leave the house. I am fanatical about saying that.  Because I am afraid, the one time I don’t say it – something will happen.  It is my magical thinking way of placing a safety blessing upon you. Our job is pretty much done, in the fact your Dad and I have attempted to instill common sense into both of you.  I am also comforted by the fact that you both have an inherent desire for self-preservation and are not thrill-seekers. It is the only thing I can do at this point – this safety blessing.  Yes, I know it’s a bit whacky, but I can’t help myself.

But here is what I have discovered over the years – worrying doesn’t really do anyone any good. And this is the lesson.  There is no point to worrying.  Into your lives, trouble will come, but if you take preemptive actions to minimize troubles then you reduce the amount of time and energy wasted on worrying.

Here are the areas in which you can take charge and avoid the worrying:

School – Honestly, school is the best deal going. All you have to do is go to school, respectfully pay attention to the teachers, ask appropriate and relevant questions when necessary and complete your assignments in a timely manner.  Do more than what is expected of you.  Review your notes after each class.

Remember when we spent an hour bedazzling your French project poster board and your teacher loved it because she loves all things sparkly? We didn’t have to do that, but she thought it was great you had taken that extra step and she gave you an A.  Find out what the teacher loves, and give it to him/her.  It’s not sucking up, but it is playing the game and getting the grades.  Start working on your writing assignments as soon as you know what they are supposed to be about.  Come up with creative, imaginative stuff.  Teachers get a kick out of the fact the student has taken the project and really thought about it, and achieved the objectives by coming at it from a different and imaginative angle.  If you do approach school keeping these tips in mind, you will never have to worry.

Work – Work is kind of like school, in that you need to give it your all, do more than what is expected of you, and don’t worry about the fact that your coworkers aren’t doing the same. There are always going to be slackers at work, who expect everyone else will do their work so they can take credit for it.  You could drive yourself crazy thinking about how lazy some people are, and it will make you grumpy and less effective at work, and people will say you are not a team player.  Don’t get sucked into this.   If at the end of the day, you can sit on your couch at home, and say, I had a really good day at work, despite some of the losers I work with – then you have done well.  And do not bore your spouse with every word, every action, the less than stellar workers said or did at work, because your spouse will not want to talk to you after a while and will groan inwardly when the subject of work comes up.

Money – This is an easy one. Don’t spend money you don’t have.  And as mind-numbly boring as this sounds, setting up a budget is really helpful.  When you do start receiving regular paychecks, don’t go crazy with your new found wealth, and buy expensive shoes or clothes, or cars.  Money never goes as far as you think it will.  Make sure your bills don’t exceed your income.  Don’t buy things on credit, trust me this never turns out well, because once you start the cycle with the credit cards you become a slave to them.  And if you can, set aside a certain amount every month for annual bills (like car tags) and emergencies (car repairs, dental bills, unexpected expenses).  The rule of thumb is to have the amount of three months’ worth of salary set aside in case of lay-offs, emergencies.  I have yet to do this.

When you get married have separate checking accounts. It is better not to combine the money into one account, it just fosters bad feelings.  Split the bills down the middle, each person should pay proportionally their share of the bills.  Again, have an account for emergency funds, unexpected bills, that requires an agreement from both parties in order to withdraw money.

Pay your bills on time. Avoid car payments if you can. And set up your money so you are in complete control.  Have medical insurance, car insurance – hedge your bets. If at some point you buy a house, the actual price should not exceed 2.5 times your annual salary.  So – if you make $100,000/year, your house should cost no more than $250,000.  Don’t ever become “house poor” – it is a miserable feeling. And voila,  you won’t have to worry about money.

Relationships – Spend time with people you enjoy. It is not worth your energy to become involved in drama.  Some people love drama, relish conflict and will draw you into their web of chaos.  If you find you dread spending time with certain individuals, do yourself a huge favor and bring the relationship to an end.  And remember, spending time alone, is so much better than spending time with people that drive you crazy.

If you can follow these recommendations you have probably eliminated the major sources of most of your worries. Spending your life worrying is no good, it is an unhealthy way to live.  If you can minimize the areas that cause people the most consternation, you will be one step ahead of the game, and much happier because of it.

Now if I could just follow my own advice.


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