You know, people tend to use the term over thinking as a one off or a write off. “Oh you’re just over thinking it.” Which actually, in most cases, acts as a dismissal. Something to say, “just get out of your head and go for it. Take the job, take the leap, date the guy, whatever the situation, stop thinking, and go for it.” And as much as I’d love to say it’s not that easy, that’s a write off too, because it’s not about easy. What it is about though, is fear, coping with past trauma, and avoiding whatever core issue that this issue is triggering. But most of all, it’s about an instinct toward recognizing patterns while also refusing to accept where they lead. (Aka – denial)
See, I don’t know about you, but as someone prone to overthinking, being an over-thinker is something I wish I wasn’t. And I only wish I wasn’t because everyone else has identified it as bad or unfavorable or made it seem like I’m crazy because of how much time I allocate to avoiding stuff that ‘could’ or ‘could not’ happen.
And sure, if you look at my past, most of the things I overthink wouldn’t surprise you but if you didn’t know me from a brick wall you wouldn’t think it’s something I deal with as often as I do; and obviously, that’s intentional but it makes it that much harder to be me.
On any given day I’d bet that 50% of my time is me overthinking – or reevaluating something I did or said – or anticipating what might come next. And to be clear, that’s a fictional assumption, but it’s also probably lowballing the situation. See, in a lot of ways that percent of my time becomes the kind of beginner code I programmed into a robot in middle school. A living embodiment of “if this:then that” situations. And the funny thing is that I also know life isn’t that predictable, but I am. Or at least, I could be.
I think the biggest check I’ve ever taken to my ego was at a Irish pub in 2016. I was at temple bar drinking and flirting and loving life when the guy I was talking to told me that I was not nearly as complicated as I believed myself to be. And among other sentiments on that trip, that simple statement tipped over the first of dozens of dominoes that finally made me realize that the only person who thought I was complicated, was the same person trying to solve herself like a god damn Rubix cube, when in reality she was more like a puzzle with a couple edge pieces that fell off the table.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s easy to say that we lie to ourselves every once in a while, but what’s hard is justifying the excuses of why we do it and what’s harder is justifying those excuses to people who occasionally know us better than ourselves. But you know what the real kicker is, no one knows us better than we do. But we hide behind the idea that they do because it puts it off us. So we think that if we can convince someone else, maybe we can finally believe it, but that’s not actually how it works.
As an over thinker I’m sometimes stuck in this cycle of thinking I can win – and to be clear I’m fighting myself- so I keep trying new ways to tackle the same surface problem over and over and over again until I realize that the problem I was trying to fix was just the top layer of what needs to be tackled next. And so I regroup and take a step back, I grab some water, and return to the ring to fight the next thing – as if there’s an end to the means.
Look, at the end of the day no one is exempt from getting in their own head, and it’s no secret that while others can take a step back, we’re trapped. But the important thing is that we take time to realize that we are the ones trapping ourselves. That we are the ones saying we can’t be the things we want to be. And it’s not easy, but once we can put a face to our demons, we can realize that the world is not about being the you that someone else wants you to be – it’s about living with who you are.