Ever since I can remember, I’ve had a regular practice of writing down my thoughts in a journal. I’ve always found it helpful for clarifying and fleshing out all the worries in my head.
And you know what? There’s another bonus in it. Years later, when I read through my journals again, it’s always amusing to see how the things I’d been worrying about now seem so unimportant.
Don’t get me wrong – at the time I wrote them down, they felt absolutely important. They weighed on my mind so heavily that they were worthy of space in my notebook!
Today, I’d like to share with you some of these things I used to worry about, which I’ve since learned don’t matter in the long run. Hopefully, you won’t waste time on them like I used to.
Let’s dive in!
1) Temporary delays
In one of my journal entries, I talked about my concerns over a project I was working on. I lamented, “I can’t understand why they (the client) keep changing their minds – this is gonna take us forever!”
The drama queen in me went on and on, highlighting (read: magnifying) so many problems, as if they were all unsolvable.
Fast forward to today…I can barely remember what those problems were. I finished that project – though there were many delays and failures along the way – and now…
…It’s a very, very distant memory.
I guess this is the perfect time to remind you of a quote that has helped me feel less frazzled during trying times: “This too shall pass.”
2) Past mistakes and embarrassing situations
What else shall pass? Mistakes and embarrassments.
Maybe you messed up a presentation at work. Maybe you made a fool of yourself at a party by being the only one wearing a costume because the invitation was confusing.
That acute feeling of disappointment and shame? That, too, shall pass.
Years from now, you’re just going to laugh it off – it will surprisingly become a memory you love to share with others in good fun.
And you know what? Those stories will actually make you more relatable.
After all, who hasn’t had their own share of mistakes and cringe-worthy moments, right? Even the most put-together of folks have them!
3) Small physical imperfections
Ah, vanity. Let’s talk a bit about that because for many people, this is a major reason for fretting.
In a world obsessed with picture-perfect appearances, it’s easy to get hung up on tiny physical “flaws.”
But honestly, what might seem like a flaw to you is what makes you uniquely beautiful. Those quirks are a part of who you are.
For example, I used to stress out over my eyebags, which, mind you, I’ve had since I was a baby. So no, they’re not due to late nights or a bad diet. I literally was born with them.
But I just couldn’t accept it. I’d pile concealer over them. In pictures, I’d keep my smile to a minimum so my eyes won’t crinkle up too much and the eyebags won’t get even puffier.
I even had a goal to save up enough money to have them surgically removed.
Then a friend told me, “Oh. But then you’d look so different. You won’t look like you!”
That woke me up for sure. I began seeing this imperfection as part of me. It didn’t make me any less of a person; in fact, as it turns out, it added a touch of uniqueness to me.
So, if you worry about your physical imperfections, don’t. People will love you for who you are, not what you look like.
4) Getting things done perfectly
While we’re on the topic of imperfection, I’d urge you to embrace it as well in everything else in life.
I’m not saying you should do mediocre work. By all means, definitely go on striving for excellence.
But those precious minutes/hours/days you spend trying to get things done perfectly…that’s time you’ll never get back.
And you know what? You won’t even likely reach perfection; that’s just a recipe for frustration.
Let go of the need to have everything just right. Focus on progress and joy in the process itself. You’ll find that life is more enjoyable when you allow yourself to be human, complete with imperfections.
5) Trying to please everyone
Allowing yourself to be human also involves allowing yourself to be disliked. Of course, it’s only right to be kind and considerate, but we should also be firm in standing up for what we want.
This is a common worry for many of us. I know that in the past, I spent so much energy trying to keep everyone happy.
In fact, I could open an old journal to any page, and there’d be a 90% chance there’s a bit in there about concerns that I’d disappointed/offended my: mom, sister, boss, coworkers, Friend X, Friend Y, Friend Z…
Whenever I come across those worries, I feel like hugging the old me. “Oh little, misguided one, if you only knew that pleasing everyone is just impossible…”
The more important concern you should have is: “What makes YOU happy?”
In the long run, that is what will matter most. You don’t want to be looking back at your life and feeling regretful that you didn’t put your own happiness first.
6) Other people’s opinions
Speaking of other people, how important are their opinions to you?
If you dwell too much on what so-and-so might think, you might be allocating too much brain space for something that shouldn’t matter.
Here’s the perfect example:
Remember when we were in high school and it was so important to fit in? We’d worry about what the popular girls/guys would think and if we were “cool enough”?
Those days, such worries seemed so consuming, didn’t they?
News flash: we’re no longer in high school.
I’m not saying you should dismiss what other people think all the time. Of course, some decisions do call for taking into account their opinions.
What I mean is, try not to worry about what they think about you. As I mentioned earlier, what matters more is what YOU think of yourself.
Are you living a life that’s true to your values? Are you at peace with the decisions you make?
7) Keeping up with trends
Talking about high school reminds me of this – our tendency to keep up with what’s cool, what’s hip, what’s now.
There’s nothing wrong with being trendy, per se. But if it occupies your mind too much, if you’re fretting that your stuff is outdated, it’s just wasted energy.
Because in the long run, who cares if you don’t have the latest phone, car, or wardrobe? Who cares if you don’t know all about the hottest items in pop culture right now?
Trends come and go, period. They’re fun and exciting, sure, but keeping up can be exhausting. And trust me, if that’s all you ever do, it will feel empty after a while.
A better route would be to find out what truly resonates with you. If you like dressing up in vintage clothes, go for it. If you’re into minimalism, by all means, that’s a very wise path in life. Just do you.
8) Trying to attend every social event
Do you say “yes” to every event you’re invited to? And while you’re at it, stress over what to wear?
Another news flash: you won’t even remember every single one of those.
I used to stress about missing out (yes, I used to have huge FOMO). I’d juggle things around to make sure I was present at all of the events I got invited to.
You know when I realized I didn’t have to do that? When I had a conversation with a friend and it went like this:
Friend: “Remember Jason, the guy Katie brought to Andrea’s wedding?”
Me: “Hmm, I don’t think so. I don’t think I made it to that wedding.”
Friend: “What are you talking about? We were at the same table!”
Mind you, that wedding was only about eight years ago. Maybe it was just my bad memory, but what that taught me was that I don’t even remember some of these events I’d stretched myself thin for!
So pick your events. Be ultra-selective. Choose only the ones that are really important.
9) Winning an argument
Just like with events, pick your battles wisely, too.
Look, in the heat of an argument, you might have that single-minded drive to win, to the point of losing friendships or burning bridges.
The thing is, not every argument is worth winning. Our brain has a way of filtering out unimportant things, so it’s likely that you’ll forget what you were fighting about after a certain period of time anyway.
So, minor issues like:
- Whose turn it is to do the dishes
- Which route to take to avoid traffic
- What to have for dinner
- What color to paint the living room with
…let it go. Those all won’t matter in the long run.
10) The future
Finally, we get to worrying about the future. Which is perfectly natural. It’s only right to have a general plan and goals to work towards so we at least have a good sense of where we’re heading.
But beyond that, getting into hundreds of “what-ifs” isn’t productive.
Because the future is unpredictable. Worrying about it excessively only robs us of enjoying the present moment.
When you get right down to it, life is too short to sweat the small stuff. Let go of these worries and make room for what truly matters – your relationships, your growth, and your purpose.