AND AT WHAT TIME?
WHAT KIND OF OCCASION IS IT?
WHAT IF I’M EARLY?
DO I NEED TO BRING FOOD?
HOW DO I UNITE?
SO MANY QUESTIONS!
MAYBE IT’D BE BEST IF WE DIDN’T UNITE?
IS THAT OK?
WHAT IF YOU NOW THINK THAT I’M A FLAKE FOR SUGGESTING SOMETHING AND THEN RETRACTING MY SUGGESTION?
WHAT IF YOU THEN NEVER TALK TO ME AGAIN, EVER?
WHAT IF I THEN FORGET HOW TO TALK AND LOSE THE ABILITY TO MOVE MY MOUTH AS IT’S NEVER USED AND MY FACE MELTS?
WHAT IF I THEN GET ARRESTED AS THERE’S NO WAY TO TRACK MY IDENTITY AS I HAVE NO RECOGNIZABLE FACE – SO FOR MY OWN SAFETY I AM KEPT IN CAPTIVITY?
I SHOULD REALLY HAVE UNITED.
MAYBE I CAN FORM A FACE-MELT NATION.
BUT MY FACE HASN’T MELTED YET.
DO I WANT IT TO? WHAT’S BETTER?
…Hi. Welcome to overthinking!
It’s a bit horrible.
Normally, overthinking rears its head when a Whatifski comes into your noggin. Common triggers are attending social gatherings, or figuring out how to get to work on your first day, or figuring out how to compose an e-mail IMMACULATELY with the PERFECT phrasing – but then second guessing whether or not it is actually perfect – or maybe it IS perfect because it’s not quite perfect as you don’t want to be THAT person and make it look like you put too much effort in, so it’s deliciously divine in the end, and it being not 100% stupendous gives it a desirable kitsch or wabi-sabi quality – no, no, actually, that can’t be right – as it’s not perfect – actually, wait, maybe – or –
It’s easy to see why it comes about: checking in to see if we’re doing the right thing and ensuring we have the right words to say what we mean and mean what we say are all good things.
Words are powerful – words are very powerful. I think this is why I stay quiet so much of the time. With a simple sentence – too simple – you can affirm years of toils, triumphs and tortures from thousands of people.
A throwaway sentence by a parent in a blip of frustration can hurt for decades afterwards and result in many occasions of telling people in suits about your childhood.
I find this power terrifying, to be quite honest.
It’s almost as terrifying as pokes and quibbles from a Whatifski, like,
“But what if you fail?” “But what if they don’t like you?” “But what if you’re wrong?”
…But why do we ascribe such importance to those buts? Surely, they are in fact called ‘buts’ as the Whatifski’s talking out of his butts?
There is no booty to be found in those burblings. But instead, a noxious gas.
Smelly overthinking spirals don’t get you anywhere. We suffocate ourselves through but.
I’d be fine if these buts were trumpet “OBJECTIONS!” A Phoenix Wright justice bomb with a point. But it’s actually more of a simpering, seeping Dementor, sort of a, “buuuuuut” that impedes action and slowly strangles.
But, the crazy thing is, you’re the only one that can see these objections. Really, it’s fine. Often when I try to explain what’s paralysing me, people laugh. When I was told to arrive at work for “after 9am” my response of “do you mean 9:01 or ten past?” was met with mirth.
I had a fear when I was little that passersby could see a little green cloud from my behind (clearly too many cartoons for me) but the truth is, unless there’s a security officer looking through a thermodynamic camera at an airport, you’re safe, and should pay no attention to the self doubt gasses, and get to work for any time after 9.
That’s why I like driving: you can’t overthink. If you do, you never pass any junction, ever, or you get so caught up in over-analysing the last turn that you crash.
As for perfect word selection – well, if you don’t quite say what you mean and upset someone, it’s okay. Talking is a first draft, and humans do possess such superpowers known as “ignore” or “selective memory”, so ultimately you will be dandy.
Art majors also demonstrate the magnificent human skill of interpretation, waffling on about almost nothing, the Dada movement giving great importance to R. Mutt and his loo. So, even if you do say exactly the PERFECT thing, it could be interpreted as wicked and woeful. And vice versa – something daft could be dastardly genius.
And there are 7 billion people on this planet: why do we let our failed interactions with one ruin our day?
It’s still ridiculously hard to stop the panic, though.
If you figure out the answers, give me a ring. ACK! No, don’t propose, not an ACTUAL ring. That doesn’t work.
If you figure out the answers, give me a bell. ACK! No, I don’t want to steal Quasimodo’s thunder.
Give me a buzz, then. Nope. That doesn’t work either.
If you figure out the answers, we should talk – let me know a good time. …But not THAT good of a time!
OKAY – how about this –
If you discover the answers to preventing overthinking spirals, please do get in contact with me and we shall exchange words into each others .
Yes. Good. (That’s a bro-fist, not me punching you in the face.)
Stella out. (That’s a peace sign, not me putting my fingers up your nose.)