There are people who can make a cup of coffee or start a new episode about fifteen minutes before they should be leaving for the airport (because they have a flight to catch or something) – except these are the people who would never say ‘I’m going to leave in 15 minutes’, it’s more like, a few minutes, oh, maybe a couple more, in a bit, can I at least finish my coffee?
They’re the people who can simply walk at an even pace to catch their bus, or think about what they ate for dinner last night rather than outline the 7 things they will do first when their plane lands, and then an alternate 7 steps in case their bags take too long to arrive.
Would it surprise you greatly if I said I don’t happen to be in the above category of people?
Over-thinking and its two best friends, anxiety and guilt - picture a cheery trio holding hands and skipping towards a raging fire. Okay, so a fire is a bit dramatic, let’s change it to a bumpy, muddy shallow hole in the ground?
I imagine normal people (if there is such a thing) walking breezily through the sweet green meadow of their life while over-thinkers wake up and step right off from their beds into an obstacle course – every day is a puzzle I have to complete in given time… I forgot to decide what I’m going to wear to work today, oh dear, I guess that’s three less minutes that I can spend on breakfast, should I catch the later bus today and for once arrive at work at 9 am instead of 8:40 like I always do but then that leaves this awkward six minute gap between being ready to leave and the bus… Meticulous planners loathe those extra few minutes (if these arrived unplanned) – we’re too restless for time that’s too less to spend doing something, usually I think I fluff the pillows on the sofa or put away the dishes. (Minor diversion: the problem of the sofa – I always put four cushions in the same arrangement on our shabby little sofa but if I leave it like that, Fahad sits on one of these cushions and squashes it – and the peace that symmetrical cushions bring me is as profound as the distress squashed pillows cause. So now just before leaving, I pick up one of the cushions and place it on a chair – what a creative if somewhat worryingly neurotic solution!)
I over-think pretty much everything. Things like talking on the phone or telling my boss about taking a holiday, without realizing it my mind will start scripting the conversation. Even ordering food is a pain, which is why I love the Just Eat app so much. No awkward explaining of orders on the phone and you still get your pizza without onions. Which is why it took six months for us (Fahad is the same when it comes to conversation with strangers) to finally ask the Sainsbury's people what the 'connecta' card is and realise it's actually a 'nectar' card and it does make perfect sense for us to have it because it's free and you collect points on it and eventually get a free something from the grocery store!
As an over-thinker, I have certain expectations of myself, and if I don’t follow through, I’m going to start feeling a thin, sniveling guilt crawl up my stomach, turn a corner around my heart and sit close enough to send disappointed looks at it. I think a lot of women experience it. It is a gift from our parents, our teachers, our aunts and uncles and the general society – a tiny little agent created with years of patience and practice and slipped inside us. He wears a tiny hat and taps his stick on the grey squidgy floor of our brain from time to time. He comes out of his little room quite often, to either look at us with narrowed eyes or a sad, disappointed frown. Empty dishes in the sink? Been on your bum sitting for the last two hours? Eat too many chocolates? Haven’t called your parents in three days? Is that … flab? Have you forgotten exercise is essential for good health and toned tummies?
Quiet little messages blinking neon inside the brain till some action is taken to remove the dirty dishes or maybe don the gym pants.
Some women are probably more susceptible to nurturing the little guilt-giving man, while others have the genes that help to pick him up by the collar and toss him out without another look.
I think I’ve somewhat accepted and made friends with the little guy. He’s helped me become a better person, I like to think. And since I have my very personified, alive and kicking, vocal little conscience man, I take the liberty to not let other people make me feel bad.
For an introvert, I’m remarkably good at saying no. You know the person who can actually swat off 'but have another cup of tea?' and 'it's just 9pm' and leave a relative's house at the time they actually want to leave at? Yep. It's a great skill.
I can very seldom be guilt-tripped into anything and other people’s emotional wheedling and complaining don't bother me. So I guess it kind of evens out.
Of course, sometimes it does get a bit tiresome.
Let’s have it out in the open: I haven’t exercised in over a week. Now every time I open my YouTube, there is an entire line of Kelly from Fitness Blender in various positions of working out and becoming fit, and I admit, it makes me feel quite terrible. I try to look away and quickly look for The Verve to soothe the guilt away.
I haven’t sat down to write in over a month – that made me feel quite horrid too. There’s a reason, of course, I’ve started working four days a week now and we were travelling on three of the weekends in April and then we had friends visiting in between, so yes, but seriously Aisha, isn’t writing your passion? Shouldn’t it be a priority? And need I bring up that you finished all of 13 Reasons Why in less than five days?
No you need not, little guilt man.
Thankfully all is not tangled wires and knotted shoulders in Over-thinking City. Having a constantly whirling thought process makes me observe little things that maybe a lot of others might miss out on – and so I see and count things like the six trees along the same street bursting with pale pink blossoms or a lady helping another person out with directions. I usually think twice about what I say – weigh out the benefits of a statement to a person and often, deciding against its utility and thereby probably saving feelings from being heart or egos being prodded or simply nonsense being uttered.
It has also helped me become who I am today (which is hopefully a conscious person who thinks about causes, effects, and correlations). And making the most of life, obstacle-course and pothole-ridden as it is.
And as for balance, I think having a husband who every now and then swats away the little man inside my brain, who squashes cushions and suggests having a cup of coffee when there are only 15 minutes left till we’re supposed to leave, who toes away neatly laid plans to listen to a song or sit under the sun for longer, well, that helps.