I’ll be real with you for a moment… If there were any kind of “What If” nation.. I would be their Queen.
What if I fail at [my job, this task, that race, organizing this, building that]? What if I can’t handle the stress? What if I hate it? What if I can’t decide what I want to do or what’s best [for me, my career, my loved ones]? What if I get sick? What if [my family member, my friend, my loved one] gets sick? What if I run out of [time, money, resources, space]? What if I don’t get any support? What if they don’t like me?
If any of those sound like a familiar daily occurrence in your mind, welcome to my nation, we will have our first mayoral election next Wednesday…
Wait.. What if all the candidates suck?
All joking aside, this is a severe problem for far too many scared people out there. For some it’s just a mental habit, but for others it’s a symptom of any mental illness from anxiety and depression to bipolar disorder to ADD and everywhere in between (because we all know that these labels are not a one size fits all kind of bad hand dealt by life). And I’ve been going through a lot of those thoughts myself lately. Your early twenties are a HUGE “What If” phase, whether you have one of the previously listed disorders or not. Just getting your feet on the ground, you haven’t had enough experiences in life to know exactly what you like, don’t like, hate, love; what are you good at and what makes you feel fulfilled?
The answer to that is another question: So what? So what if you don’t know what you want to do? You try new things- as many new things as possible- until you someday do figure it out. So what if you fail? You get back up and you either try again, or you try something else. So what if you hate it? You’re not required to like everything in the world, so go find something you do like.
Trust me, I know from experience that it’s not always so easy to pick yourself back up and trudge on. It seems easier to wallow in your own self-pity and stay in bed all day, but you know what? That only makes it harder the next time around. What IS easier is baby steps. As early twenty-somethings we’re not only going through this phase in our personal lives, but the world as a whole and the society we live in is going through enough changes that all expectations we had for our lives could be blasted to bits in as little as a day from now. I could spend hours on that topic alone. But that is exactly where baby steps come in. If you’re not the throw-caution-to-the-wind kind of person and you suffer deeply from the “What Ifs”, you can exercise your bravery by simply leaning in to life rather than shrinking back from it.
And if you have any of those emotional, mental, or mood disorders or difficulties, your very first step is simply to take care of yourself and get the help you need to take on your daily emotions. You should NEVER be ashamed simply because some people may see you as weak. Quite the opposite, in fact, because when you have to try five or ten times harder simply to get out of bed and get yourself going every morning, you have already proven how strong you are. You have already succeeded and proven those naysayers wrong. And when you put your mental health first, you’ve actually taken, not a baby step, but a giant step forward. Farther than anyone who doesn’t struggle with their own mental health can say. And once you do that, you can truly begin to take the rest of the world by storm… one step at a time, of course. No one, and I mean NO ONE, can change the world without beginning with themselves. Take pride in who you are, and the struggles you go through; allow it to make you a better person and your baby steps will bring you farther than you ever expected.
Until the real apocalypse takes place, nothing is the end of the world. Take baby steps forward, leaning ever so slightly in the right direction, and all your “What Ifs” will transform into “So Whats.” You will never know the answer unless you trudge on.