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.
35
views

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

Dear Mom, Now That I'm Older

A letter to the woman who made me the woman I am today.
289882
views

Dear Mom,

Now that I'm older, I definitely appreciate you a lot more than I did as a kid. I appreciate the little things, from the random text messages to constantly tagging me on Facebook in your "funny" photos and sending me pins of stuff I like on Pinterest. Now that I'm older, I can look back and realize that everything I am is all because of you. You've made me strong but realize it's okay to cry. You've shown me how a mother gives everything to her children to give them a better life than she had, even when she's left with nothing. And, most importantly you've taught me to never give up and without this, I would not be where I am today.

Mom, now that I'm older, I realize that you're the best friend I'm ever going to have. You cheer me on when I try new things and support me in deciding to be whatever person I want to be. Thank you for never telling me I can't do something and helping me figure out ways to be the best woman I can be. Your love for me is unconditional. They say true, unconditional love can only come from God, but mom, I think you're a pretty close second.

SEE ALSO: An Open Letter To The Cool Mom

Now that I'm older, I don't get to see you as much. But not seeing you as much just makes the times I do get to see you the absolute best, and I look forward to it every time. Now that I'm older, I'm not going to live at home. But, I promise to always come back because I know the door is always open. Your house is always going to be my home, and no other place is going to be the same.

Now that I'm older, I realize how much I miss you taking care of me. I miss you making me dinner, making sure I was doing well in school, and taking me to endless appointments. I miss you waking me up for school and then waking me up again because I didn't listen the first time.

But, Mom, now that I'm older, I can see all that you've done for me. I can look back and see how big of a brat I was but you still loved me (and let me live) anyways. I can understand why you did certain things and frankly, you're one bada** of a woman.

To have you as my mom and my best friend has been the best thing that has ever happened to me. So, Mom, now that I'm older, thank you, for everything.

Love,

Your Daughter

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

This Is What Being Away From Home Taught Me About My Home

... It's ok to make plans with people besides your mom.

448
views

My home, for as long as I can remember, has been my safe haven. No matter how many arguments my family and I got into, I always knew my home to be a place where I could feel safe, at peace, grounded, and most importantly, comfortable.

This is why, when I decided to embark on a journey to Israel, 6,000 miles away felt like I was traveling into space. I felt as if I couldn't move forward without my mom by my side, reminding me everything is going to be okay. The relationship that my mom and I have is a special one, and knowing that I was not in close proximity to her created much-unwanted anxiety for us both. Knowing that while she may have only been a phone call away, that she wouldn't be able to come hold me if I needed her to, was something I really struggled with.

While I was away, I had hoped that my excitement for the trip and the adventures that were to come would keep me grounded and sane. Unfortunately, as the days went on, I became more and more homesick. However, I was able to learn some really important lessons in terms of the importance of my home, and sometimes the need to escape it.


The new friendships I made showed me that sometimes it's okay to make plans with people besides your mom (only partially joking).

The new foods I tried showed me that there are so many different types of foods that my chef of a mother hasn't even heard of.

The new experiences showed me just how important it is to step out of my comfort zone, even if doing so means I have to be 6,000 miles away from the comfort of my mom's arms.


There are hundreds of thousands of things that this trip has taught me, but it especially taught me that life exists away from your home as well. While it is natural to want to stay close to the things that bring you comfort, it is also essential that you allow yourself to grow.

I couldn't be luckier to have had such an incredible experience abroad, but I also couldn't be luckier to have been able to come home to a mom that was waiting with open arms and open ears.

Related Content

Facebook Comments