It’s Okay to be Anxious about First World Problems

My automatic garage door won’t close on its own.  I have to pull the car out in the driveway, walk back to the garage, hold the button down until the “danger” alarm is overridden and the door slowly creeps down.  Then I have to go all the way through the house, out the front door, lock it behind me, and back to the driveway to get in the car.

This week our hot water heater broke.  Hot water is sporadic.  Showers, laundry, and dishwashing needs have to be scheduled around the whims of that cylinder in the basement.  Two days this week I have had to rush out of work and drive the 25 minutes home to meet the plumber.  I have to waste vacation time because there aren’t enough extra hours this week I can spare to make up the time.

First World Problems:  My Diamond Shoes are Too Tight!

First World Problems: My Diamond Shoes are Too Tight!

These are things that are making me anxious this week, things that are inconvenient, things that stress me out.  But do you know what stresses me out even more?  Feeling guilty that I am stressed about these things, these first world problems.  Feeling guilty because I know that things could be so much worse.

I know people who are far better off than me:  people who can afford to own two nice cars, buy nice jewelry, take extended vacations, renovate rooms in their house or buy a newer, bigger house.  People who have a boat.

I know people who are way worse off than me:  people who can barely meet their basic expenses, live paycheck-to-paycheck, buy everything secondhand, have an old vehicle with mechanical issues they can’t afford to fix…or no car at all.  People who have no job, or a job with little pay/hours, or a job with no flexibility or paid time off.  People with no homes.  People who go hungry.

What do all of these people have in common?  They are people…human beings who all have a point at which they become anxious.  Some can tolerate more stress than others.  Some get stressed out over the smallest thing.  It is okay to be worried about something, whether you’re a millionaire or a homeless person in the street.  No one should feel guilty because something unexpected in their life is causing them a bit of worry.  These are things that affect you, so of course you are going to have an emotional reaction on some level.

It’s okay to be anxious about first world problems!  It really is!

What is not okay is to complain about it.  To whine about it, gripe about it, make it the center of your universe and radiate it to everyone around you.  It is not okay to make something bigger than it needs to be in order to get sympathy or attention from others.  It is not okay to constantly moan about how rough things are…because someone will always have it rougher.  ALWAYS.

Vent to your friends, write about it in a journal, have a quick cry…and then move on and deal with it.  The line between allowable anxiety and just plain wallowing is not blurry.  You’re allowed to be anxious; you are not allowed to grumble and gripe.

As for me?

I am thankful I have an automatic garage door and that it will soon be fixed.

I am thankful I have a car to put in the garage in the first place.  I am happy that car starts up every morning.

I am thankful I have a job that is flexible enough to let me dash home to meet the plumber.  I am happy that I have a job that pays enough so that I can afford to pay for the plumber without sacrificing groceries or an electric bill.  I am thankful that I have vacation time to use so that I don’t have a smaller paycheck.

I am thankful to have clean water at all times, and hot water on demand when the heater isn’t acting up.  I am happy to have a new enough house that my water heater is still under warranty, thus saving me a lot of money.

I am thankful for these things.  But I am allowed to be anxious when things go “wrong” and not feel guilty.  I’m allowed to feel stressed out when my schedule is suddenly hectic and unpredictable.

I am allowed to be anxious, but I should never complain.


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