I’ve always pictured myself as a bobble-head doll of Alfred E. Newman (Of Mad Magazine fame), sitting in the window of my life proclaiming the epitaph above . . . loudly. Well, imagine my surprise when I took the stress test offered by Tamara Patterson in her column a few days ago. I’m stressed! It said so, right there in the test score!!
Now stress is the twin sister to worry. Or maybe worry is the parent of stress. O.K., I was going to write “mother of stress”, but decided that was sexist and we all know that stress is an equal opportunity employer. Never mind, I just never was able to get the worry thing down to a science. It has always seemed that I can never remember to worry. My mother, on the other hand, would worry if she didn’t have something about which to worry. Looking at the element of nature vs. nurture, I SHOULD have been a worrier. But no. according to that thinking, Scarlett O’Hara should have been my mother. You know, the “I’ll worry about it tomorrow” line.
And this approach to the future started very early in life. I distinctly remember being very stressed about my first day of school. And I also distinctly remember going to bed the night before and thinking, “Well, if I just go to sleep I won’t have to be scared.” That seemed to hold sway over my thinking all the way through school whether it was a term paper or some upcoming test. My mantra was, “Just don’t think about it and you won’t have to worry.” And to be honest, that attitude seems to inform my thinking now and all through my adult life. To this day,! I’ve not decided if that’s a good thing or not! But I’ve never been bothered with ulcers!
Of course this also goes along with a first cousin called PROCRASTINATION. Oh, my dears, let me tell you I have my advanced degree in procrastination. Consequently, I’m one of those who works better with a deadline breathing down my neck. The plus side of that equation is that if you’ve procrastinated long enough, and you’re completing a task under enough pressure, you don’t sweat the small stuff and consequently you tend to not worry.
But then there’s the quality of the product. If anything suffers it’s the quality control. . . oh, and the second guessing? The “if only I’d thought about it” school of creativity.
Did I miss deadlines? I’m sure I did. Did I flunk tests? Probably. Did I worry about it? Nope. I was Salutatorian of my high school class and graduated college with a 3.83 so I must have gotten at least some the work done . . . I just didn’t remember to worry about it.
Is there a lesson in there, somewhere? I’d hate to think so. I certainly tried to educate my children out of the “Just don’t think about it until the deadline is upon you” school of life. I think they understood the lesson . . . it seems to have worked really well for them . . . I think. I will also admit that I have worked hard in my adult life to overcome this natural proclivity!! I even succeed sometimes.
If anything suffers from this particular school of thinking, it would be as I said above, the QUALITY of the product. But if I just don’t think about it, I won’t worry!
Adrienne Jacoby is a 40-plus-year resident of Shasta County and native-born Californian. She was a teacher of vocal music in the Enterprise Schools for 27 years and has been retired for 11 years.
A musician all her life, she was married to the late Bill Jacoby with whom she formed a locally well -known musical group who prided themselves in playing for weddings, wakes, riots, bar mitzvas and super market openings. And, oh yes . . . she has two children, J’Anna and Jayson.