Friday, February 03, 2012

All In What You Call It

Recently I discovered that what I had for years thought of as a curse can be put to good and enjoyable use. I am what would generally be described as a “worrier”. When faced with any situation, from getting out of bed in the morning to planning for a trip, I consider what could, might, and quite possibly will go wrong. Fortunately, this does not stop me from getting out of the bed or from going on trips, but until recently it did make me wish that I could just stop “worrying” so much and approach life with the same optimism and joy in the adventure that some people seem to feel. I have met such people. I even have friends and relatives who display these traits. But I have always worried – and wanted not to worry.

I have tried those “simple strategies” found in magazine articles. For example, set aside ten minutes a day and get all your worrying done in one session. Or write down everything you’re worrying about, read the list, then rip it up and walk away. Such strategies never worked for me – not even those described in the book or two I picked up about how not to worry.

And then, I had an epiphany. I realized that I was using the wrong word to describe what I do. With that realization, I now approach what I formerly thought of as “worrying” with great enthusiasm and even delight. What I have thought of as “worrying” should really be described as “forecasting” or “engaging in risk assessment” or “scenario-building.” What I have described as “worrying” when done well, and with use of all available data and unrestrained imagination, can really be viewed as a rational response to an uncertain world.

The fact that this has only recently occurred to me can be put down to the fact that I was never a Girl Scout. However, I always wanted to be – a Girl Scout, that is. I have always wanted to be capable, competent, and ready to deal with any situation. But feeling ill-prepared, I instead worried. And I worried about worrying. No more. Now I know that the activity that I engage in has a much better and more praiseworthy name when done systematically. Did I forget to mention that I joined the World Future Society while researching my near-future police procedural? That was when I began to understand the error of how I described and understood what I do.

Having had my epiphany, I can now face the future with confidence. When presented with a question about what should or might be done, I can now without hesitation launch into my analysis of the situation and the possible outcomes of various choices. If my colleagues, friends, and relatives should grow irritated when forced to listen to my in-depth analysis, no matter. I will continue silently.

Now I know I am not a neurotic, wimpy person who “worries” but instead a much more interesting creature – a woman who “considers all the angles". This should certainly help my writing. Actually, that particular phrase reminds me that I want to try my hand at writing noir.

In fact, I have a character named Becca, who is the wayward mother of my series protagonist. I’m fascinated by Becca, but she has appeared in only one book. Maybe it’s time to see what else Becca has to say. She’s a woman who has spent her life considering all the angles. A bluesy, noir femme fatale. Ordinarily, I would worry about letting Becca out on her own, but no more. I no longer worry. Now I assess the situation.

7 comments: said...
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Eve Kotyk said...

Ah, that could be me. I'm writing a time travel novel that is set in the future and in the past. I look forward to checking out The World Future Society.

NL Gassert said...

Interesting post. I’m sorry to hear that all this time you thought you worried. The word carries such a negative connotation. I’ve never thought of myself as a “worrier.” I’m a planner. I prepared for the worst and hope for the best. I don’t think it becomes “worrying” until it makes getting out of bed and facing life difficult. Glad to hear you rediscovered your zeal for life (all the while preparing for ... those unforeseen moments that make us laugh or cringe later).


Frankie Y. Bailey said...


You could well find the WFS publications dealing with future scenarios interesting.


I always enjoyed planning ahead -- now I just have the language to explain to doubters why it's important :)

e cigarette said...
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Aline Templeton said...

I've always tortured myself with what I call 'prophylactic' worrying: the things you worry about never happen, so I try to cover everythuing possibkle, so they won't! I know, I know, it's dumb. I'm trying to quit!

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