It's silly really. My family is healthy. We are financially secure. My husband has a good job and works very hard at it, so I don't have to. I'm excited (and not at all overwhelmed) at the opportunity to start my own business doing something I love. Our lives are blessedly free of the stresses that make life most challenging.
It's the mundane things that make me anxious, and that's why I feel so ridiculous.
What gifts to get everyone. How to make sure the holidays are special for my kids. Writing holiday cards. Decorating inside and out. Baking cookies. Hosting the annual book club holiday party. Little things. Silly things. Things that I enjoy or choose to take on. Things I do not find challenging or important. Things that do not make me feel a need for perfection or to impress anyone. Yet the anxiety is still there.
I don't understand it.
That's an understatement. He continued, "How do you deal with chaos?"
Gratefully, I told him that my life hadn't been very chaotic--stable home life, happy family, and healthy, long-lived loved ones. He responded, "I don't mean that sort of chaos. I mean everyday chaos--like being stuck in traffic or late for an appointment. How do you deal with that?"
Not well. Not well at all.
"You realize that children are chaos, right? They draw on the walls. They are unpredictable. You can't control everything."
Well, when you put it that way...
My anxiety over the little things is not sounding so out of left field at all. Maybe I'm hard-wired for it. Even if I don't want to be stressed by the little things--even if I want to let it go--maybe I can't.
Rushing out the door for school. The clothes and books and craft supplies discarded all over the house. Lost coats and hats and gloves. Mopping the kitchen floor after the gingerbread house, and the muddy boots, and the dropped pesto. Wanting everything to be just so. Having a place for everything, but finding nothing in its place. Everyday chaos.
Not a bit of it worth being upset about. But still. It happens.
I've reached a couple conclusions. First, checking things off the list may not always be my best tactic. Sometimes, I just have to stop. I need to sleep, because being tired and cranky only makes it worse. I also need to allow myself an escape. Sitting down with a good book is not a waste of valuable time, but a chance to travel to a different world and forget about the lists for a while.
Second, as much as I try to rationalize away the anxiety, it's not going to go away entirely. It's who I am. But just because I'm feeling anxious about the time or the mess or the lists, I don't need to share those feelings with everyone around me.
Snapping at the kids to hurry up makes them move no faster than if I deliver the message in a normal tone. Griping about the floors isn't going to make them any cleaner. So I'm trying (not always succeeding, but trying) to keep my constant feeling of snappishness to myself. When I start barking at people, they bark back. And then we begin a self-perpetuating cycle of annoyance that benefits no one.
While I wish I were more laid back, I can only do so much to change my nature. Perhaps the best things I can do are to try to cut myself (and others) some slack and, when I cannot, to keep it to myself. Just because I'm anxious doesn't mean I should be, and I cannot let it control me or affect those around me.
Now that I have that off my chest, should I return to my online shopping list or continue the book I started last night?
What about you? Do you have the laid back personality I desire, or are you a just-so person as well? If so, does December bring out your worst? What are you doing to keep it in check?