When I was younger, that is what I wanted to believe – that worrying was only for adults. This was quite an ironic idea for me since I have been a natural worry wart my entire life. But when you’re younger, your worries are a bit naive as they should be because you are young – What should I wear? Will that guy I like talk to me today? Will I do well on that test I studied all night for? Will Tina be able to spend the night this weekend? Will I be able to go to Jackie’s next weekend?
When you stop to think about the type of things we are left to worry about now as adults with families, responsibilities, aging parents and a shaky economy, sometimes I would take those younger kinds of worries over the ones that come with growing up.
At age 24, I wrote the following poem, just after my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer:
I Never Worried…
I never worried about life until I got old enough to actually live it.
I never worried about the choices I made in school until I became a professional.
I never worried about my family until the doctor appointments became more frequent.
I never worried about my friends until I was left to learn how to stand on my own.
I never worried about love until I swore I had found it.
I never worried about the pain that never gets easier until it sets in.
I never worried about loneliness until I started thinking too much.
I never worried about much until I understood that life would never be perfect.
I never worried about myself until I didn’t know who was staring back from the mirror.
And I never worried about the past until I was faced with the idea of the future.
I was well out of college when I wrote this poem. But I was still wet enough behind the ears to be learning in my career, in my relationship with my now-husband and his two children, and in who I wanted to become as a person.
Life can take us places we don’t want to go because of death and illness, whether it be our own or those of our loved ones. But then again, we are meant to be the conductors of our own orchestra, the leaders of our own parade, so that we can take our lives to unimaginable places, whether it be traveling to distant lands, achieving extraordinary accomplishments, reaching unattainable goals, soaring to incredible heights and meeting amazing people who are destined to change the course of our lives.
While at 37, my own life has been contained so many of these things. My mind often wanders back to my simple childhood when my life mostly consisted of my two loving parents and my older brother. My family was this crazy foursome and we had our share of problems and family squabbles, but I mostly remember the laughter that filled our house more, the love that overflowed from the rooftop and the family vacations to destinations all over the U.S. Those memories are still in that house, the laughter and love still ingrained in the walls like the nails and the dents my brother and I left, but now it seems like such a lifetime ago when we were kids wrestling on my brother’s bedroom floor, my father snoring on the couch because he always worked nights, my mother eternally baking something in the kitchen and our little house with the magnolia tree in the front yard, frozen in time both in my mind and my heart. Life was so simple back then with little to care about other than the things that truly mattered most about being a kid — backyards, coloring books and a box of crayons, stuffed animals, imaginary friends and memories you didn’t even know you’re making at the time.
Getting older has its downsides with the responsibilities and everything bad, but the upsides are infinite – my precious babies’ kisses and hugs, the love of an incredible man, good friends who have stood by me in good and bad times, and a family that continues to grow with each passing year.
Obviously, worrying isn’t just for adults. But the worries we carry just get larger, heftier and more cumbersome the older we get. A life without hassles and worries would be one with only guarantees and perfect answers. It is through our faults, our failures and our questions that we find a way to teach ourselves how to move through life with a little more ease and finesse as the years pass by and our book of life lessons gets thicker.