Anxiety over the Unknown

Do you ever feel anxiety over large, ill-defined projects or goals? I do, and often. How would you feel if I told you that you had to accomplish the following:

  • learn Chinese
  • buy a house
  • learn [some JS framework]
  • give a 90-minute presentation on your area of expertise
  • actually become an expert first
  • understand blockchain technology

I’ve tackled all of those in my life. Each one caused multiple occurrenses of irritation and anxiety that usually manifested in tense, shallow breathing and a knot in my stomach. This happened just by thinking about those goals. For me, the agony of not knowing was far greater than any fear of failure. Each challenge was so big that I couldn’t think about it all at once and didn’t immediately know how to solve it, therefore I feel incapable of solving it, thus the despair and anxiety.

I’ve actually accomplished almost all of those, and I can promise that the level of difficulty was never as great as the intensity of my negative feelings. As far as emotions are concerned, just sitting down and **doing*** something was all it took to transform a monstrous beast into a not-insignificant-but-manageable challenge. I’m not saying that they were suddenly easy, but that my emotional state was a lot more cooperative. Buying my first house really was daunting and exhausting, but walking through each step sequentially by my agent is what kept my head from exploding from anxiety, and an unexploded head is crucial in any endeavor.

The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.

It seems to me that this popular advice for writers is a simple, actionable strategy for any problem that falls into the category of anxiety-inducing immensity. Not necessarily because you will breeze through your tasks—you probably won’t. But I promise that once you start moving even a tiny bit toward the end-goal, you will start building momentum that will dispel the unrealistic emotions of inadequacy, which in turn will replace your negative feelings holding you back with positive ones that motivate you to success.

TL;DR: “I care about your feelings” is basically all I’m saying ♡

*For the final goal, I plan to learn how blockchain works and build my own in less than an hour using this tutorial from FreeCodeCamp. I love FreeCodeCamp!