by Janday Wilson
A few days ago I found out that I did not get the job that I desperately needed.
Fuck. Before the words even left the recruiter’s mouth, I knew. I live my life on the defense, always in anticipation of disappointment and bad news. I am especially distrustful when life is going too well.
I’m working on this terrible mindset, especially since popular opinion has me convinced that my brain has special powers to actually manifest my thoughts. I swear that I did not want to lose out on this job opportunity, despite the fact that way back in the recesses of my mind my thoughts convinced me that it was too fortuitous.
I had just had a conversation with my boyfriend about my desperate need for funds when the temporary agency contacted me. And the position had the exact start date that I needed. I was beyond thrilled, but suspicious of the fact that I kept getting so many unexpected bits of good news that day.
My boyfriend had just surprised me with the news that he had won us an all-expense paid trip. I could not believe my good fortune because I had just been lamenting my dire need for a vacation. Then my friend texted me that she got the job that she really wanted, and a few hours later my bestie called to tell me about a date she snagged with a very promising guy.
Maybe this is a bit pathetic, but I cannot remember the last time I got so much good news in one day. So why, all of a sudden, did my stomach feel like a piranha was gnawing its way out of it? I developed a headache as my mind raced with thoughts of all the things that could possibly go wrong.
I considered the fact that my boyfriend nearly lost the trip for us over some silly miscommunication, so I figured nothing else could possibly go wrong on that front. I reflected on the heaviness that I carried with me to bed the night before after hearing some terrible family news, and hoped that the good news was the universe’s way of showing me some sympathy.
But my mind would not let me be at ease. I did not trust that the things I desired for myself and my friends were falling neatly into place. So when I found out that I did not get the job, my sadness was strangely tinged with a bit of relief.
I cannot pinpoint when this inability to be comfortable in my happiness began. It may have started at the end of high school when my once peaceful home life was destroyed by the breakdown of my parents’ relationship, which I would have never been able to foresee.
Once my parents separated and divorced, it seemed like everything else seemed to go wrong. In addition to the stress of domestic drama, we were dealing with the financial straits of a single parent household and a mental illness diagnosis.
Things are still pretty rough. Of course we have bright moments, but it seems like whenever positivity comes, negativity follows right behind. Our family cannot seem to catch a break. So I always feel unsettled when life is going well. I expect something bad to happen as a means of balancing out my joy.
This logic has become my way of bringing some order to this chaotic world.
I think my most ridiculous coping mechanism is my use of past bad news as insurance to protect good news. If certain situations are going really positively, instead of imagining that something will go wrong, I reflect on things that already went wrong in that particular situation, or in a different area of my life. Then I hope that the universe takes stock of the issues I have already had to deal with and allows me to have my happy moment. That way of thinking is ineffective and nonsensical, yet I adamantly apply it to my relationship with my boyfriend.
I can live with the fact that no relationship is perfect, but I am freaked out by the idea that mine might crash and burn like my parents’ marriage. So I have convinced myself that our relationship has to last because its nascence was fraught with so much tension.
At the beginning, our friendship grew to involve benefits which got revoked when someone else came into the picture. Then the friendship was cut off entirely for months, friends got involved, and it was just a mess. No one, including me, expected that we would be where we are today.
My logic is: If we can make it through that, surely our unexpected reunion and relationship is my reward, and nothing else of that magnitude will ever happen again.
But life does not work that way. I have to accept that life will always be imperfect, and I cannot live paralyzed by the fear of what can go wrong in the future.
I am learning to be less myopic, and recognizing that the issues I struggle with are hardly the worst in the world. I am allowing myself to be happy and training my brain to focus on positive thoughts.
Lately, I have been visualizing good outcomes and telling myself positive affirmations. Now whenever I get good news, I try to refrain from using my flawed tit for tat logic, and expecting something bad to happen.
So over these next few weeks I will not fret over not getting that job. Another one will come along. Right now I just want to visualize this incredible trip that my boyfriend and I are about to go on.