There are probably about 100,000 emotions that we human beings are capable of feeling at any given time or place.
One of those emotions is that devilish little dixie known as anxiety. But what exactly is anxiety?
Well, Webster's Dictionary defines it as 'a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.' I should clarify by admitting that I didn't use an actual dictionary to determine this, I used Google. But I've just always wanted to begin a sentence with, "Webster's Dictionary defines...", and so here we are.
What I've found over the course of my life is that anxiety is like that one itch you've got somewhere on your body, but you just can't pinpoint it enough to fully scratch it and satisfy yourself. It pops up seemingly out of nowhere, and it can be a tiresome, drawn-out process in trying to quell it enough to go away for the time being.
At least, that's been my 'up-down, turnaround, altogether now' adventure with the emotion.
I'm sure there were instances when I was very young where I felt anxiety, but I think the best place to start would be when I was 13 years old. It was June of 1999 and another summer vacation was just about to start. My Mom had to work that day, but she told us three kids that she would stop by the school to pick up our report cards before coming home.
As soon as Mom walked in the door, she gave my brothers their report cards and said they'd done well for themselves, but then she gave me a look that only said, "We need to talk, and it won't be a happy discussion." Sure enough, when it was just the two of us in my bedroom, Mom sat me down and explained that my teachers decided it would be best for me to repeat the eighth grade. I was crushed. In an instant, classtime and working on projects with my best friends was gone. It was replaced by the sickening, dejecting feeling I had of being stuck on 'pause' while everyone else was still on 'play'. I'd be in a classroom with literally no one that I knew, and the prospect terrified me.
That entire summer was just a blur to me. Everyone else got to enjoy two months of summertime bliss, while I just watched the days and weeks fall off the calendar. I'll tell you something, friends, the anxiety was almost crippling. You want to know why I'm so gray-haired at 37? I'll bet this time period is where it started. My nerves were shot, I barely slept, and there were just too many unanswerable questions about my immediate future.
Another time where I felt anxiety's icy cold grip was when I was about to go off to film school in 2005. I had just turned 20, and I was about to embark on a life-changing journey that would uproot me from my small town life on the Saskatchewan prairies and drop me on the West Coast, living in Victoria, BC. Once again, here was another summer where I felt a flurry of 'what if?' emotions and I had a thousand questions to which I didn't know the answers.
That familiar feeling would once again make its presence known in early 2007, just before I started here at the newspaper. Once again, I had a thousand questions in my head that didn't have answers yet, and I was staring at a job that I knew very little about. I was going to have to feel my way around and learn very quickly to avoid making too many mistakes. I can vividly remember the weekend before I started, wondering if I could actually fake an illness to get out of starting the gig.
And, if I'm being completely honest here, once again I can feel those same feelings of anxiety pinging around in my head and in my consciousness. This is because my brother and I are in the process of moving from our home in Conquest to an apartment we got in Outlook. It only makes complete sense that we make the move and it's something that makes me positive about the future, but it's the 'right now' stages of everything that have my mind in a vise grip. Did we pack this? Did we pack that? How will we take care of this? How will we take care of that? Is this how you do that thing, or is it this way? Will this work? Will it not? Seriously, folks - a thousand questions, running through my head all dang day. Fun, it's not.
But hey, let's look back on those scenarios that I went through in my life and find out how things ended.
Yeah, in 1999 I did indeed fail Grade 8 and I was forced to repeat it. But to this day, I maintain that it was the best thing that ever happened to me because it was where I met the guys who've been my best friends now for over 20 years. I've been through a lot with them and they're always there for me. I hope they know I'll always be there for them, too.
Yeah, in 2005 I did remove myself from the much calmer, much more relaxed lifestyle of home in small town Saskatchewan and move to Victoria to go to film school. But I absolutely loved it. I loved the freedom that I felt, I loved the experiences that I had, and I loved seeing another side of our amazing country that was surrounded by the ocean. It was one of those instances where a guy just had to get out and go have some good old life experiences. I don't regret a thing about it.
Yeah, in 2007 I was extremely nervous about starting this gig at the Outlook newspaper. But hey, you want to know something? Over fifteen years later, I'm still here and I like to think that I've managed to establish a reputation with our readers. In this line of work, it takes time for readers to know your voice by way of your words and your writing style, and I think that by this point, most of our readers could take a look at an article, read all the material, and then think, "Hey, I didn't catch who wrote that. That's a Ruttle piece, right?" That's a connection to your audience that takes time, patience, and dedication. Well, I've put in the time, I've learned to be patient, and I'll always be dedicated to what we in the media are here to do in our topsy-turvy world.
And yeah, I'm dealing with some emotions that have me running the emotional gamut as we pack things up and get ready to move, but hey, that's nothing but 100% normal, am I right? Who DOESN'T get those same feelings when you're moving? If you didn't, you might be lacking in some more-important emotional areas.
Anxiety isn't exactly curable, but what I've learned is that you can deal with it by letting time take its course and keeping an open mind.
It'll pass. I promise.
For this week, that's been the Ruttle Report.