By Lindsay Huffman
Don’t sweat the small stuff. It’s a phrase everyone has heard at least once in their lifetime, but it’s also one of those lessons that’s easier said than done. And if you know anything about reverse psychology, then you know that even when someone tells you not to do something, you are probably going to do the opposite anyway. So for anxiety-ridden worriers like me, “don’t sweat the small stuff” only seems like something else to add to the to-do list. And when you’re moving back in to college, as I was last week, the to-do list was hefty and I was definitely fretting about everything, both the big and small.
The morning I was scheduled to move in, I woke up ridiculously early, mentally going over a packing list to ensure that I had brought everything I needed to survive in the dorm. Everything seemed to be in order.
Unfortunately, I looked out of the hotel window and saw rain. And it wasn’t just a slight sprinkle, either, but lots and lots of rain. I tried to be optimistic, though-after all, a little water never hurt anyone.
So I gathered my wits and failed at suppressing the nervous feeling in my gut that always appears around the beginning of a new semester or final exam week. I knew I should’ve been used to this by now. I’m already halfway through my college career. But when I pulled up to my dorm and began unpacking my car, I was still anxious for seemingly no reason at all.
But I felt a small thrill of excitement as I opened the door to my new, larger room for the first time. And when I entered-I balked. Not because of the beautiful bay windows or the sheer size of the room, but because of the huge puddle of water in my floor and the brown nastiness that was bare ceiling through which water was leaking. I couldn’t rearrange the furniture or pile bags in that third of my room because my ceiling was acting as a drainpipe for the rain.
The anxious gut feeling mocked me as I told my RHC about the situation; however, she was very apologetic and helpful, for which I was grateful. In fact, the RHC seemed almost as worried about the situation as I was, so I took encouragement from the fact that I had a sympathetic leader in the dorm. And she told me she was going to get maintenance in the room that day for sure, which she did.
So until the ceiling could be fixed a few days later, I simply avoided that part of the room and began to worry about other things, such as where to put all of my stuff. I quickly realized that I was taking up a lot of space -and my roommate hadn’t even moved in her stuff yet. But I was determined to find a place for everything, which I almost successfully did, except for a couple of boxes.
Another obstacle overcome, but there were still more things to fret over on my to-do list, most of which concerned my job at the newspaper. Because as I learned in my first year in journalism, you must love the job in order to get through how hectic life always is in a newsroom. Yet, my job has continously changed, from semester to semester. And with change comes greater responsibility. Which also means more to take on. You get to the point where you find yourself strolling endlessly around the Combs building hoping for an ephiphany. It never comes.
Several stories to edit; Check. A budget to give to the staff for next week’s paper; Check. A thousand meetings to schedule and attend; Check. Have I mentioned the endless amount of meetings scheduled? I almost forgot I was a student.
But the summer issue came out and assignments were given to the staff members for the next week, so I began to breathe a little easier, at least until I moved on to the next thing on my checklist: getting my roommate moved in, which was more of a cause for celebration than a burden . . .
. . . Until she arrived and the hall staff couldn’t find our room information. When I had moved in three days earlier, all of our papers had been in order. Now, it was as if someone had erased our identities.
But that could be fixed, too. A bit more paperwork, admittedly, and the maintenance men had to visit again in order to put a new lock on the door, but overall, an easy obstacle, even if my roommate and I did have to wait until someone actually found the new replacement keys for our lock.
But once the new keys were found and I could unlock the door to what was officially once again my room, I sighed with relief.
Oh, and by the way, the RHC tells me and my roommate as we begin to head upstairs, the leak in our room was caused by a squirrel that had eaten a hole in the pipe.
I didn’t even know that was possible, much less probable.
After she told us this bit of information, all of my anxieties came bursting forth in a bout of hysteric laughter.
Sweating, worrying and fretting, all because of a stupid, hungry squirrel.
And as I sat in a circle with my group of friends later that night, I realized that that’s usually what worry comes down to-not a rabid squirrel, perhaps, but something small and fairly unimportant. I also realized that “don’t sweat the small stuff” was more than just a piece of advice, but a bit like a swift kick in the gut.
Don’t sweat the squirrels or the puddles or the jobs or the missing information because life is always going to throw curve balls at you-you can’t avoid them. All of us persevere not because of our amazing endurance, but because really, we don’t have any other choice.
So my life lesson of the week: even though you can’t avoid feeling anxiety, you can avoid letting it rule your life. Namely, don’t sweat the small stuff because you know it’s going to come, but learn how to deal with it and laugh about it later.