It seems all my interesting thoughts come to me when I am incapacitated to express them: when I'm on either side of my hour commute, when I'm in the shower, when I'm drifting off to sleep. In an effort to preserve some of my particularly salient brainwaves, occasionally I wake up in the middle of the night and send random texts to my email in hopes that I'll attend to the thought in the morning. Which always seems like a great idea at the moment, but as it turns out, half-asleep Hayley is even less coherent than fully-functional Hayley.
A particularly bizarre text I recently received reads "akinola and nkoyoyo", who are apparently archbishops in Nigeria and Uganda, respectively, but I'm not sure why I thought that was important to remind myself of. Another particularly cryptic message says only "kn prb", and since I am reasonably assured I wasn't thinking about hipster beer at the time, I can only assume I meant "knowledge problem", though the significance of that still alludes me.
But a rarity ended up in my inbox this past week, a full phrase! This little gem says "New life goal: to stop overreacting."
I do have a lot of similar existing life goals, in fact, I have a super goofy list saved to my hard drive that's entitled "Hayley's Rules for Living", which is simultaneously pathetic and amusing. List toppers include, "Don't be emo" (credit Katie and Mallory's Closet Rules for Life), "Don't sleep in" (a biological impossibility), and "Get out of your comfort zone" (so much easier said than done!) One of my com studies professors says that the result of cognitive dissonance is that your beliefs change to match your actions, and these lists of semi-profound life mottos I've crafted for myself hopefully do a little to keep my character anchored.
But back to not overreacting. Can I blame this on nurture for a second? I'm completely like my mom in this respect. She has this awesome trait where she can take anything apart and almost always fix it (not, unfortunately, a quality I have inherited) and this one time she took it upon herself to take the back off the TV set. She warned all us kids to stay away, saying she was likely to get electrocuted, and I remember burying my face in my hands so I wouldn't have to watch if my mother got fried in front of me. All of a sudden she gasps and yelps, and I start crying thinking she's literally toast.
Nope. She pinched her finger in the casing.
I do this all the time to my coworkers at the computer store. I'll be in the middle of some menial task and I'll remember something I left undone: an important email, a time sensitive data transfer, an unsent fax. I always gasp at my mistake in horror and bolt from my task to fix the problem, leaving the techs around me thoroughly worried and confused. (Because when you work with thousands of dollars worth of parts and equipment and merchandise, the word "oops" is none too welcome!)
I don't just overreact at little mistakes, but also at little stressors. I'm more likely to have a meltdown over an obscure detail than a giant transgression. Come on, big things are so much easier to forgive! But with all those tiny annoyances, all it takes is the last straw. But is it necessary that I cry over a sexist joke? Is it crazy for me to reevaluate an acquaintance after some joking slander? Am I completely maladjusted for unpacking my sister's minute criticisms?
Well, I mean, that's on my list of rules for life, too. "Words are powerful." So I take the misuse of words seriously. (Which is so deeply hypocritical! Because I use words so carelessly myself! Arg! There's no winning.) I guess, my biggest pet peeve is when others speak for me. And, I really don't know if that's a good thing or not. I'm going to go with the latter if I'm staying true to this "stop overreacting" thing. We all misspeak. We say things we shouldn't say. We say things at the wrong time. We say things with the wrong tone. We say things with the wrong context. It happens; don't overreact.
I tell myself I freak out over the little things so that I have no spasticity left for the big things. And maybe that's true; the few challenges I've faced have found me calm in the face of danger. But one of John Welsey's questions for self-reflection always sticks in my mind: "Have I exaggerated today?" It is it's own kind of deception, isn't it? Or, moral implications aside, it's annoying, right?!
Kind of like the abrupt, obnoxious end to this post.