February 12, 2010 in Features

Don’t waste time on negative ideas

Carolyn Hax

Dear Carolyn: I’m a sophomore in college. I’m trying to break the pattern of settling into a comfort zone and never leaving to try anything or meet anyone new.

I decided on the spur of the moment to join my school’s club soccer team.

I’m active, but I’ve never played organized sports. While I’m waiting for practices to start, I’m falling back into my cycle of overanalyzing how the other girls on the team will react to my lack of experience and skill. I’m constantly worrying about being shunned. What’s a girl with a possibly irrational fear of the unknown to do? – Terrified to be the last one picked for the team

It’s not “possibly” irrational, it is irrational. You don’t even know these teammates yet. Therefore, you don’t know how (un)friendly or (un)skilled they are. Worries without substance are absolute wastes of your time.

Instead of dwelling on negative scenarios, force yourself to entertain possible scenarios. Use what you know, versus fearing what you don’t.

What you know is you. Has your dread in the past proved accurate, or needless?

You also know how you regard novices. Do you mock them behind their backs while pretending to be nice? Or do you admire them for having the nerve to show up, to risk looking silly, to try?

I suspect it’s the latter. And if you feel that way, then it follows that at least some future teammates will, too.

Since they’re a fact of life, you can expect to encounter some people who like to build their egos on the bodies of everyone else. These aren’t the teammates you want to impress anyway. They’re the ones to avoid.

By trading fears for predictions like this, you have the basis for a plan: Seek out people who appreciate the way you’ve rallied; be grateful for people who leave you alone; avoid, or even pity, people who need to be mean.

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