For the past three years, I've enjoyed my time scanning and bagging groceries at a local grocery store. I've learned so much in my time there. From the importance of persistence to the value of patience - my first job taught me countless lessons time and time again. The most recent one? The value of having the ability to step back and realize something's true importance.
Several times a day, I'll have a customer stop me while I'm ringing up their items and tell me to bag their bread alone and wait until the end of the order to place it in their cart carefully on top to avoid any possible smashing. Like I said, I've been doing this for three years, I promise you I know how to properly bag groceries: heavy items with other heavy items, light items together, bananas in their own bag and meat bagged separately. Have no fear: I've got this.
I've started noticing more and more, however, how often my customers say this. It seems the weight they're putting on the well-being of their bread has grown heavier. I had a customer come through my line just the other day who said, "Please be careful with my bread - there's nothing worse than a smushed loaf of bread." Okay, yes, it was probably an exaggeration. But the way she said it, it was like she literally couldn't imagine anything more horrific than a smushed loaf of bread. It really made me stop and think about how often I sweat the little things.
I used to get way too worked up about one paper - letting it stress me out to the point where I'd literally shut down. I used to always carry cash on me because the thought of my card not working at a store gave me so much anxiety. I used to overthink conversation after conversation, worrying about what I said, didn't say or would say.
Then I stopped.
It didn't happen in a moment or even overnight. But recently I've noticed that the little things don't bother me as much. Maybe it happened when my grandfather passed away a year ago. Maybe it was when I got a B- on a paper I spent countless hours stressing myself out about. I'm not sure when it happened, but something caused my focus to shift off the little things and onto their larger impact.
Being able to understand something's impact on your life is hard to do, especially in a moment where freaking out and shutting down seems to be the easier and more accessible option. But it is simple enough to start small. Trying to make a habit of pausing before reacting to a situation is a simple way to gain perspective and one that will soon turn into second nature. Before you know it, you'll be pausing and realizing, "Okay, this paper doesn't define me, and in the grand scheme of life, it will not affect me nearly as much as it might seem in the moment," or "If my debit card fails, I'll come back tomorrow to buy that shirt."
Perspective is a valuable tool and one that can save you some serious anxiety and stress in a trivial moment. Take a step back. Put value on the things that truly matter and seriously affect you. Don't sweat the little things.
I promise, there are so many things worse than failing a test or having your debit card declined. Don't let the little things give you anxiety - just assess the situation for what it is and take action. Save your anxiety for the bigger things life throws your way. Like smushed bread.