Thursday, March 7, 2013


I've noticed something about myself recently--I am always worried about something. If it's not one thing, it's another thing. If last week's worry has been resolved, this week's worry jumps in to fill its place. It's as if there's a "worry of the moment" slot in my mind and heart that has to be filled, and it's exhausting. (And kind of humorous--thank goodness I'm married to a light-hearted man.)

I don't consciously worry. I don't try to find things to become anxious about, or analyze my life until I can find something worthy of worry. It just happens. It's either become a perfectionist habit, or it's deeply ingrained in my DNA (thanks, Mama!), or a combination of both.

I realize that everyone has stress and anxiety and tension in their lives in one way or another. Unfortunately, my particular brand of worry has a tendency to become obsessive, to invade my dreams, to really consume my thoughts. But in a way, I actually have come to believe that some of this obsessive worrying has led me to success, greater success than I would have had without it.

Photo taken by my Dad at my senior recital at Notre Dame. 

For example, when I was preparing for each of my (4 in total) solo student recitals in undergrad and grad school, I turned into a particularly neurotic worrier. I really don't enjoy the spotlight of performing, I become incredibly nervous before concerts, and getting up on stage to play--even though I've done it dozens of times--is very difficult for me. So I worried and worried. And oddly enough, in part because of this fear and anxiety, I made sure I was 110% prepared for each of those recitals. I anticipated every mistake, every memory loss, every missed note, and I practiced and polished and perfected my pieces, and I worked on centering my nerves and visualizing a good outcome and staying inward and focused. Concentrating on the beauty of the music, the real reason I am a pianist, was another way I prepared. (If I was playing Bach, I would repeat a mantra like "Beautiful Bach" while slowly deep breathing. It reminded me of why I was going through this stress--for the sake of the music.) My recitals weren't perfect, but each one of them went very well, and occasionally I even played better than I ever had in lessons or the practice room. I was able to perform at a high level despite my nerves in large part due to the worry which prompted me to prepare, and prepare some more.

I do need to work on this worry problem. It's not healthy to constantly be stressed, and I think prayer and meditation are probably the best ways for me to become a more relaxed person. But I think it's helpful to remember that worry does have a place in certain circumstances. Perhaps the rule is that we shouldn't worry about things out of our control, but when it comes to things in our control, we should try to channel the worry into something positive and productive.

What do you think?


  1. I am a worrywart, too. I get it from my grandma & people say our personalities and mannerisms are identical so it has to be partially genetic! I married a man who is anti-worry. When we were getting in a car accident years ago when I was at the wheel and car spun uncontrollably, he said "it's ok, it's happening." WHO says that?!?! But it helps to be around someone who grounds you. And it was ok. We landed in a ditch and just needed a tow truck. But I was a worried mess. I still worry a ton.

  2. Well, I'm sorry to hear about your car accident but your husband's comment is so funny! I could see mine saying the same thing. He's very grounded and is able to handle stress amazingly well. Thank goodness for our guys, huh?

  3. Kate, I admire your honesty in your blog. You've hit upon some challenging and super "real topics" lately (worrying and female friendships) that people can struggle with but don't usually discuss as candidly as you have on blogs. I think you're right about trying to channel the worry into something positive and productive.
    Two things come to mind in reference to today's post. The song, "Smile" by Nat King Cole. My mom always said that if she was feeling down she would try to smile more and eventually her heart would soften and would see life a little differently. It can feel a little forced, but it can help relax.
    I'm a worrier too and lately thinking about Psalm 19:14 has been helpful to me. I love the idea of the meditation of my heart being pleasing to God. Hard, but good. :)

  4. I agree that prayer and meditation can be very grounding and a great way to get through anxious moments. I think I used to be much more high anxiety than I am now, and what made the difference was learning acceptance. Acceptance that my worries could not change the unknown, acceptance that sometimes things would go wrong, and acceptance that I still had some power to control things on my end. I tend to ask myself what purpose this worrying serves, and if it does nothing good for me, then it's time for a pep talk.

  5. Thank you for saying this, Sarah. I really find that I'm drawn to some of these hard-talk-about topics, for whatever reason.

    I love your two bits of worry advice! I'm going to look up that song and that Psalm. Thank you :)

  6. That's very wise of you! My husband is always telling me that it's silly to worry about things out of our control, and he's so right. The hard part for me is actually doing that--putting it out of my mind, focusing on the positive, not dwelling on it. But I'm getting there! Thanks for sharing your thoughts today, Sarah.


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