The Anxiety Of Losing Control

Am I the only one who suffers from severe car anxiety?

It’s not claustrophobia – it’s from knowing I need to be somewhere at a certain time while being confined to a vehicle and subject to red lights, stop signs, idiot drivers (who probably have car anxiety), and my own incompetence when it comes to navigating directions. A loss of control drives me to spin in my seat with every detour and delay as I am forced to accept that I can only go as fast as my circumstances allow. I thought I was in control behind the wheel, but obviously not. I pray my mother never hears the words that spill from my mouth. Words already damned to hell, I’ve managed to scrounge up as anxiety boils over in scolding curses on my dashboard. I can’t imagine what the guy next to me at the light is thinking as I thrash like Animal from The Muppet Show rocking to Modest Mouse’s, “Invisible:” “No matter what consuming sort of mission you’re on, you’re not invisible inside your car.”

Readers of Dadding Depressed might have developed a skewed perception of me. I am able to hide behind eloquent words and unique perspective while, in reality, I certainly am not as put together as my blog is (which is sleek and easy to navigate…hopefully). Car anxiety, for example, is an issue I haven’t figured out yet. If anyone has a good strategy to calming down while strapped inside a moving box of anxiety, let me know. I can only come up with the idea of forgiving pop-country music just enough to hum, Jesus, Take The Wheel. I do know, however, the core issue underneath the car-induced panic attacks: I have an awful time recognizing when I have control, and when I don’t. And so does Calvin.

Everybody has an ideal. Ideally, I could teleport and arrive at my destination faster than I could say, “Beam me up, Scotty.” In a flawless world, Calvin’s peanut butter would be scooped appropriately to his standards, and he’d have no need to stress anxiously over his mother’s inferior method. The problem is that this world is not a perfect place, and it doesn’t revolve around one single person (damn). Calvin must learn how to function in a world where peanut butter scooping is not uniform. He cannot control choosy moms or the technique with which they lop Jif on Wonder Bread any more than he can control his own kitchen. And I have to come to terms with the fact that I cannot control what is outside of myself. I can only control myself.

Author, Karrine Steffans said, “Life is a lot easier when you realize that you’re not in control of it all.” You might be in the driver’s seat of your life, but you only control so much. There is freedom in striking that balance. You might not be able to control every delay, but you determine how you respond to other travelers of this world, the stoplights of life that slow you down, and the unexpected detours you find yourself on. Letting go of the anxieties rooted in things you cannot control allows you to focus more intentionally on the things you can. Quit dividing your attention, and together, let’s find peace in our anxious selves. Perhaps, by focusing on what is in our control and less on what is not, we can start making positives out of negatives. Listen to a Podcast, meditate, or call a friend in the car, but don’t freak out. Most of the time, a red light or running late is comparable to how you scoop your peanut butter. In the end, it’s doesn’t really matter. Let go what you can’t control. Grasp what you can.

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