Even as a little girl, I was a worrier. I worried about everything. In elementary school, I worried if my friends were mad at me, about my grades, and if I was smart enough. Nothing changed in high school. I worried about boys, about grades, and if I had enough extracurricular activities. During those four years, I worried about the future and college. Then, in college, I worried about my career, my student loans, my resume, my internship, and on and on it went.
The advice from my mom and family was always some variation of “live in the moment” and “worrying doesn’t change a thing.” Their words didn’t fall on deaf ears. I just wasn’t able to process them at the time. I tried to be present, but it only led me to worry about how much I worried. It was a bad cycle, I needed to break. My sanity counted on it.
I worked at it as much as I could. I read books, spoke to friends, found a great life coach, and started meditating. I began to practice mindfulness and forced myself to sit still in moments of worry to deeply connect with my thoughts.
Now, I have a better understanding of where my worries come from. They came from a place of fear, and discomfort with uncertainty. They come from a place of wanting to control things even if they are outside of my power.
I check in with myself regularly (and especially at the first signs of worry) to see if I feel grounded. Today, I can say that I’ve learned to live more in the moment. I went from being uncomfortable with uncertainty to almost embracing it.
Now, I’m better able to focus on the task, person, or situation in front of me so that any worry trying to zap my attention is erased. I often travel around the world, which also gets a lot of credit for jolting me into this state of mind. New environments have a way of awakening my senses and force me to pay attention in new ways.
However, none of this is an automatic process. As much as I wish there were a magic potion I could drink to banish worry forever, I still worry about things. The difference now is that I’m mindful of when it’s happening, and I can challenge worrying thoughts. Doing so makes me worry less and less every day.
Living in the moment has made me a better listener in both my personal and professional life. Worrying less has created a lot more room for happiness. I don’t worry so much about what people think, so I feel more confident about expressing myself.
“Big bold moves” is my mantra now. I’m less worried about outcomes and place more importance on being the most authentic version of myself. I feel more empowered knowing that I might not be able to control what happens next, but I can absolutely control how I react to things.
Now that I’m more aware of myself and my feelings, I can show myself so much more kindness and compassion.
As Leo F. Buscaglia once said, “Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow; it only saps today of its joy.”