Why I've Stopped Dwelling On What-Ifs

Why I've Stopped Dwelling On What-Ifs

It's time to take your mom's advice.

Wednesday afternoon, I started the long trek up to New York from Tallahassee, Florida. We planned to make the drive in two days: the first day we would stop in Knoxville, and then we’d drive the next day all the way to Buffalo. As often is the case, things did not go as planned: after enjoying a nice sit-down dinner in a small town in Georgia, we walked into the parking lot and realized our rental car had been broken into.

The passenger door window was smashed; there was glass all over the carseat, the middle console, and the pavement. We immediately called the police and got the attention of the manager of the restaurant. I barely noticed all of this, though, because I was so astonished that it had actually happened to me. I’ve been privileged to live my whole life so far without a single significant breach in my safety. I’d never felt so suddenly vulnerable to all sorts of dangers like I did in the half hour following the incident.

In the end, we found out that the only things missing from the car was a Michael Kors bag and my boyfriend’s mema’s work laptop. Of course it was horrible that these things were taken, but we realized we were also quite fortunate: our Dodge Grand Caravan was chock-full of not only monetary valuables, like my guitar, our game systems, and other laptops, but also emotional valuables that could’ve been damaged or lost.

For the rest of the night, I was driven wild by what-ifs: what if more had been taken? What if Mema had gone to get her drink from the car like she said she wanted to? Would she have walked right in on the robbery? What if we had parked somewhere else? What if we had kept driving through and not stopped in that town? Was there a way this could have been prevented? What if it happened again?

I had a dream that night in the hotel that the rest of our luggage sunk through the floorboards of the rental car like sinking sand. I woke up feeling similar: like I was slowly drowning in my thoughts of other scenarios, other what-ifs.

When we parked the car to get lunch the next day, we made jokes about how we’d park it right in front where we could see it from the restaurant windows. Even though we were being light-hearted, there was certainly a semblance of truth behind our joking. We were all still shaken up about it.

It wasn’t until we stopped again for dinner that it hit me: I had to stop worrying about the what-ifs. I had to stop worrying about what we could have done differently, because it didn’t matter: it had happened. And I also had to stop worrying about whether it would happen again, because I had no control over that. When it comes down to it, we really don’t have any control over a lot of things.

With this new mantra in mind, I was able to shake off most of my fear and keep moving forward. I brought this attitude with me to my first days on campus. It came in handy yesterday at my oboe placement audition, where, instead of worrying about how everyone was going to be way better than me, I focused on what I could control: my own performance.

I used to think that dwelling on what-ifs helped me to process the things that happened in my life, but what the break-in taught me was that it really just keeps you from moving forward. Obviously this will be an ongoing process — if it were easy to stop, no one would have a problem worrying about what-ifs — but until the fear is totally gone, I’m focusing on what I can control: locking my car, hiding my valuables, and parking in a well-lit area. Because when it comes down to it, focusing on what we can control is the only thing, and the best thing, that we can do.

Cover Image Credit: Beth Harrison

Popular Right Now

You Will Always Need Your Grandma

They Are Some Of The Greatest Human Beings You Will Ever Know

Always is no exaggeration, you'll always need your grandma.

"A grandmother is a remarkable woman. She's a wonderful combination of warmth and kindness, laughter and love. She overlooks our faults, encourages our dreams, and praises our every success."- Author Unknown

They Are Your Biggest Fans:

Maybe even beating out your parents for that title...grandmas are truly your number one fans. From tennis matches, to softball and volleyball games, to the countless dance recitals and competitions, it always made my heart smile to look out from the stage or the court and see my grandma sitting there. She didn't have to be there sitting on uncomfortable bleachers, she wanted to be, and it always meant the world to me; even if I didn't express it at the time.

They Are The Greatest Porch Swing Companions:

One of my favorite and greatest memories of growing up is sitting on the front porch swing with my grandma. From the time when my feet didn't quite touch the ground sitting in the swing and hers did, to my feet touching the ground and her legs getting just a little bit shorter. All of the years in between provided some of the best advice, and were some of the many moments I wish that I could have recorded. There were less hours on the swing as I got older and busier, but I always know exactly where to go if I ever need to. Moving away for college, I realize just how much I miss being eight or nine sitting on the front porch swinging and talking for hours.

The Wisdom:

Only one of the many many things they have to offer you. They are full of so many stories, life lessons, and possible answers to your problems. You learn to appreciate the wisdom more and more as you get older. You realize that just as you are getting older, they are too. I recently bought a journal called My Grandma In Her Own Words. Inside the pages are questions to ask your grandma such as, "What is your earliest childhood memory?" I can't wait to spend the whole summer filling it.

Are They Not The Cutest:

I say this at least twice a week...she is the cutest human being alive. Their style, to the fabulous music they listen to, to everything in between. My grandma walked at least 16 miles in Washington D.C. in loafers and the cutest vest/scarf combo I've ever seen... that woman, let me tell ya. On a serious note, whenever I'm told I look a little bit like my grandma, I LOVE it. I take pride in the fact that someone sees a little bit of her in me, because she is gorgeous.

You Have No Idea How To Live Without Them:

Quite simply, they are one of the most influential women in your life. From being little, to being a newly minted adult, I still call my grandma almost everyday; sometimes just to hear her voice. They are some of the greatest human beings you will ever know. They make you a better person, all while showing you an unconditional love that only they can.

All the love in the world for you, sweet woman.

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

An Open Letter To My "Team"

A week I'll never forget.

Last week, I had the amazing opportunity of going on a Service and Justice Experience spring break trip to Marion County, South Carolina. Since returning, I've been trying to pinpoint what I've learned, trying to find a particular moment or teaching that resonated with me, but I've found that I can't. There are no words to describe all that happened last week, so instead I've chosen to write this article as an ode to all that I encountered and felt in my seven days in Marion County.

It's been less than a week since we journeyed back to campus and I'm missing Marion already.

Whenever I see one of the people I traveled with around campus, I can't help but light up and smile, and I think it's because something magical happened last week. It had to be the combination of the beautiful community we were exposed to in Marion, the service with Habitat for Humanity, we were able to do, and of course, the people we served alongside with.

When people ask me how my trip was, the first word that comes to mind is "fun", but I don't think that word really does the trip, or everyone there, any justice.

Yes, the trip was fun, but it was also thought provoking, full of fits of laughter and moments of determination and hard work, and so much more.

Team, thank you to every single one of you for making the trip what it was. In one of the notecards that someone wrote for me, they commented on how the trip would not have been the same without me being there. As cliché as it sounds, I believe this to be true- we all come from different backgrounds with our own idiosyncrasies and character traits.

I truly feel that if even one person had been missing, the group dynamic, and thus experience as a whole, would have shifted.

I think what really stood out to me was the amount of love that surrounded all of us in everything we did. When Morgan asked us during reflection one night, Where did you see love today? I found myself with countless examples, from the patience of master nailers with us newbies, to the countless times a friend braided my hair for me, to a simple check in of "how are you doing" at any given moment.

Love and the sense of community were at the forefront of everything we did last week, especially when working on the house or connecting with the people in Marion.

Thank you all for helping solidify my belief that every action in life can be traced back to love.

I felt the love everywhere we went and through everything we did. However, what I found even more beautiful was how, when taking a step back, I was able to observe the love around me. As I spoke about during reflection one night, there was a moment where I was lying on the grass, separate from everyone else, watching you all play Frisbee.

While this situation may sounds trivial and mundane, I think the impact this moment had on me speaks to the gratitude this trip formed in me for the little moments.

It was the way that you all were interacting with each other. Closing my eyes, I heard nothing but laughter and cheering and words of encouragement. All you were doing was throwing around a Frisbee, yet I could find so much of God's love in that moment.

You all have a special place in my heart, and I only hope we continue to grow as a team.

Here's to morning devotionals, Max's daily lessons and coordinated Coke commercials. Here's to 6:15 wake up songs (Final Countdown anyone?), 12 am What Do You Meme? games (because pizza, of course) and the sardine round that took half a century. Here's to surprise birthday cake(s), handprints on walls, walls being painted and walls being raised. Most of all, here's to ridiculous stories, laughter, moments of reflection, vulnerability, and tears, and everything in between.

Thank you all for bringing your whole self to this trip, for sharing, and as a result, for teaching me a great deal about what it means to live in community and to build not only a home, but a second family.

Here's to you, here's to us, team.

Good deal,


Cover Image Credit: Samantha DeCarlo

Related Content

Facebook Comments