Self-induced stress


It’s difficult to be me. Trust me; I know. Sometimes I’m exhausted at the end of the day just from all the worrying. Some call it self-induced stress. I just call it worrying.

And just when and where did all my worrying start, you might ask? Well, none other than Old Mrs. Crabtree’s third-grade class at Mt. Olive Elementary School.

The location I’d picked out for my desk was not by accident. The third row over from the doorway and third seat back from the front was a strategic place: the direct center of the room. Not so close to the front that I’d be mistaken for a nerd – a real worry. And close enough to show Old Mrs. Crabtree that I was actually interested in what she had to say, which of course I wasn’t. Only a nerd would be.

The location of my desk was also the farthest away from my arch-nemesis Down the Street Bully Brad. Throughout third grade, Brad Macalister hurled entire sheets of paper my way at least once a week in the form of spitballs. It wasn’t a matter of “if,” but “when.”

If I had known when, I wouldn’t have worried so much. To this day, any class I attend, the seat closest to the door is mine. That way an escape from any wet wad of paper from the back of the room can be made quickly.

Brad’s still out there, and I never know when he’ll show. The Wife and I went for ice cream last night, and I thought he was lurking in the shadows. Word has it he bought an ice cream store, but exactly where I don’t know. See? Just something else for me to worry about.

Throughout Briarwood High, Home of the Mighty Buccaneers, my worries continued. I worried whether Candi, my girlfriend since Mrs. Crabtree’s class, would ever break up with Preston. She never did.

It could’ve had something to do with Preston Weston being the richest kid who attended Briarwood. And the fact I never informed her she was my girlfriend. I was always worried she would say no.

The worries I’ve had over the years have been too many to count, both large and small. So many I’ve been promoted to the level of professional worrier. I heard that worrying can cause facial wrinkles. Thankfully for me, The Wife says she likes a wrinkly face.

Through my adult life, two other worries have been whether people like me and how I looked, but not anymore. I figure at age 53 if I’m not liked by someone, then it’s their worry. And the way I look? Well, think about it, I don’t really have to look at me, now do I?

Doctors say too much worrying can shorten your life. If that’s the case, I should’ve been gone a long time ago. They also say 80 percent of what you worry about today is really nothing to worry about. Now all I have to do is figure out what 20 percent I do need to worry about.

When I told The Wife that I wanted to start a group for chronic worriers, she thought it was a great idea. Our motto can be, “Don’t be an amateur — let a professional worrier worry for you.”

If I started the club, I wonder if anyone would show up for the meetings. Great, now I have something else to worry about.

[Rick Ryckeley, who lives in Senoia, has been a firefighter for more than two decades and a columnist for The Citizen since 2001. His email is]