"There are things you cannot control, but you can control how they affect you."
This is one of the hardest entries I’ve ever written. Not because I took a deep dive into the darkest hollow of my consciousness and roamed around in the dirt. I didn’t. Nor is it much dirt down there, thank you very much. No, writing this entry was hard because I had a lot of thoughts in my head I believed was rather clever and I had some serious problems getting them all out of there in a somewhat comprehensible manner that didn’t make me sound like an a) total asshole, b) total moron or c) both. It was particularly hard to do it in English. I considered writing the entry in Norwegian for a while, but then I decided I was up for the challenge.
Did I succeed? We’ll see.
As a kid I used to worry about a lot of things. I can’t really remember exactly what I used to worry about, but I do remember that it was a lot. Because of this, my stomach hurt most of the time. I was a shy, timid kid, a bit afraid of most stuff that was not familiar to me. Why I was like this, I don’t know. It might have been because I was also a short and skinny kid, mostly hanging out with people who was a couple of years older than me. Not the alpha male of the pack, to put it that way.
One event I remember1 in particular was when me and my mother was visiting someone at the local hospital. I asked her for some candy, a box of the good old Stupedama to be precise. Sure, I could get a box, on one condition: That I went over and bought it myself. But there was no way in hell I could get myself to do that. I wanted the candy, but I was just afraid to buy it myself. I can’t remember if I eventually bought the box or if I got any candy in the end, but I remember the feeling when my mother asked me to buy it myself.
I also remember very clearly how I stopped worrying too much. I don’t know how old I was, but I think it was when I was attending middle school. I was walking home one day and suddenly remembered that we were having a test the next day. I’d completely forgotten all about it and now it was too late to start reading for the test. A failed test would look rather bad on my usually decent report card. Normally, this realization would make my stomach twist and turn and keep me awake at night, but this time I, for some reason, decided that the test was completely out of my control now and that there was no need to worry about it.
The next day our teacher reported that the test was canceled due to time constraints. Then it hit me how unnecessary it was to worry about things that I had no means of influencing anyway. And if I was lucky, things might, as in this case, work out anyway.
Ever since that day, I’ve tried to apply this way of thinking to everything and it has mostly worked out very well. Of course I worry about stuff every now and then, but it’s nothing compared to the kid I once were. Thinking like this also enables me to concentrate my efforts on trying to handle things I can actually control and to plan ahead. Of course I realize that this way of thinking can’t be applied to every single human being. In the middle of a war zone it can be somewhat hard not to worry about the things that you can’t control. Sometimes there are things happening in life that you are not the master of and that controls you. In such extreme cases, it might still be that it’ll help to realize that you can’t control it, and concentrate your efforts on the things that you can control. Because there are always something, if you look close enough.
One of the items on The List is to come up with a good one-liner. I think this entry boils down to one, and, to be honest, I think it’s pretty good. I’ve searched the internet for a similar one, but failed to find any one-liners or quotes that matched. So, here is my contribution to t-shirt wisdom:
“You are only truly in control of your life when you accept you are not.”
By this I mean that you will not feel you are in control of your life if you let your need to worry control you. If you realize that you are in fact not in control of a lot of things that are happening in our life, I’ll be so bold to claim that you will live a much happier life.
Any suggestions for changes to the one-liner that can make it a bit snappier are very welcome.
Note that this might have been something I have dreamed, and it’s possible it never actually happened. I’m saying this because I also have a very vivid memory from my early childhood where me and my parents are supposed to go somewhere in our car, but I refuse to take my pants on. After struggling with me for a long while, they give up, leave the apartment and drive away in the car - leaving me crying on the door step. They turned the car just on the top of the hill we were living on and drive back, but it’s obviously something that has scarred me for life. And both my parents deny that all this ever happened. ↩︎
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