Here we are in the first month of a brand-new year. Who knows what 2020 will bring? I don’t know, but there’s no doubt in my mind that along with new adventures or events, many old things will remain the same. Our personalities won’t change just because we replace last year’s calendar with a new one. The things that make us happy still will. The things that bother us will continue to cling to our last nerve, even if there’s no logical explanation for it.
I recently posed the following question to some friends: What puts you in a tailspin, creates anxiety, throws the whole universe out of whack?
Some say holiday get-togethers do all of the above. “Grrrrrrr,” is one answer I received. “Having to deal with certain family members.”
Bear Creek resident Jill Bachik said, “What sends my world into a tailspin is chaos. I’m good in crowds that are all relatively functioning in the same capacity (organized chaos) but when too many different things are going on in the same area, I tailspin. When kids are crying, moms are yelling, and people are talking loudly, my head starts spinning. Sadly, it happens at family events when all the kids, spouses, pets and grandkids are in the same space but all doing different things. I just can’t handle it. Fortunately, I’m medicated,” she joked.
My own tailspins result from things like public speaking or trying to deal with technology, but nothing puts me in a tailspin like finding out the preacher is dropping by. I don’t know exactly why, but surely, I’m not the only woman with this problem. Getting advance notice is nice in theory, but that only means my tailspin lasts much longer. It’s a real thing.
Stress triggers for Barbara McCreary of Pine Knoll Shores are more understandable and relatable. Sickness for either her daughter or beloved dog tops her list, but household catastrophes and hurricanes rate high as well.
McCreary also states, “driving in hard conditions like bad traffic, rainy weather at night, or not knowing where I’m going,” results in stress. Also, “anything having to do with taxes or the IRS.”
Unfortunately, 2019 tax season is upon us. I have a feeling we can all sympathize and start that tailspin with McCreary right now.
“Stress is good. Keep saying that over and over,” fellow writer Mat Matheson responded. (I think he was being sarcastic.) For him, anxiety is caused by registered mail, editing and removing random periods from Word 7 documents, and trying to repair an old lawn mower that “starts just fine but will not stop.” Well, that’s different. I think of a quote by Margaret Thatcher, “It’s a funny old world.”
“My dog Trixie is cute, sweet, lovable, and has been part of our family for sixteen years,” said Linda Burke of New Bern. “But her incessant barking while she’s outside is what grates on my nerves. We are her second family. My husband says we rescued the other family, not Trixie.” Burke also gets upset when drivers speed through her residential neighborhood running the risk of hitting pets or children.
Swansboro’s Joe Mobley may not go into a tailspin but does cite several stress factors and annoyances. “Loud compulsive talkers that are enamored by the sound of their own voices and those that laugh hilariously at their own unfunny jokes” are at the top of his list. “When I’m the only customer in a fast food eatery, with all the tables open, and the next customer sits at the table beside me.”
Another “people issue” for Mobley is when they consider themselves experts in every subject known to man and butt into other people’s conversations. And then, there are those that write letters to the editor spouting their political views, “usually taken verbatim from any news or social media after having already been blasted 24/7 at everyone.”
One thing I’ve learned from talking to people about stress and anxiety is that like everything else in life, something that’s no big deal to some people is quite the big deal to others.
Have you thought about what triggers your unhealthy stress level and whether or not you can do anything to cope better? There may be solutions for some things but I think most are within us to stay. There’s always going to be something out there to challenge us or make us worry. There’s an old Swedish proverb that says, “Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow.”
Some things may need big shadows, others would best be recognized as insignificant and taken in stride. However, since our personalities do not get renewed at the beginning of each year or changed like our calendars, maybe acceptance is the key. Acceptance of one’s self and being fine with who we are, as well as accepting and being tolerant of each other might help.
Like Robert Frost once said, “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: It goes on.”
And I would venture to add, “as usual.”
Carol Hartsoe is an author who lives in Bear Creek.