I’ll be moving out of my student house soon. I’ve been completely preoccupied by exams, but over the last few days I’ve felt a gnawing doubt moving more and more into the forefront of my mind. It’s the thought of confronting the chaos of getting cleaned up, and ready to end the tenancy.
One problem in particular has been scaring me. From where we’ve had our bikes stacked up against the wall, it appeared quite severely marked. It’s one of those things you don’t even notice most of the time, but as I started to worry about how it will impact the return of the deposit, those marks appeared to grow larger and darker by the day.
Something inside me knew that enough was enough. This morning, I filled a bucket of hot, soapy water, got a sponge and scrubbed. They came off nearly instantly.
I think that there’s a valuable lesson in this for us all: our problems are always worse in our minds than in reality. It’s the dread, the anticipation, the yawning chasm between stability and chaos – all of which we build up in our minds – that makes them so awful.
In reality, you just deal with them. They’re not that bad.
In the words of the great James Baldwin:
“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
We’d live much happier lives if we’d just work a little every day on building that mental callous, confronting our problems sooner – and violently tearing them out at the root before you’re overwhelmed.