Biographies, Discussion, Loved-it, NetGalley, Non-fiction, Women's

I’ve Been Thinking (And Reading) About Anxiety And Worrying Featuring The Worrier's Guide to the End of the World by Torre DeRoche

Is there a season for worrying, do you think?

A GIF of the full moon with a cloud passing over it

Is there a season for worrying, when we’re more anxious than at other times? Perhaps for most people, it’s the full moon, or maybe spring, when the seasons are changing. For me though? Life is the season for worrying. Every day.

Anxiety is probably an issue a lot of you have. We readers are often more prone to thinking about things deeply, we get swept into the inner conversation – perhaps that’s why we love reading so much. But that also makes us worry. Or maybe it’s not so for you – but I know it is for me.

I’ve always been prone to worrying, ever since I was small. The “what ifs” really do get tiring, but unfortunately, there isn’t always something you can do about it. Yeah, you can try being more positive. But positivity in the face of anxiety is like trying to defeat a gale wind by blowing at it with a hair dryer.

A GIF of a tiny dog, making swimming motions, while he’s being held out a moving car window in the wind (it sounds worse than it looks! He’s fine!)

Perhaps books can’t be manuals to help you out in these situations either. But it’s good to read about these things. It’s not that you’re happy that someone else is experiencing negative emotions – no, it’s more that you understand that you’re not alone with this in the world. Because it’s not enough to be told once – people who are prone to shut in and suffer anxiety always forget that they’re not alone. It’s a constant battle of reminding yourself you’re not the only steadily sad person in the world.

Positivity in the face of anxiety is like trying to defeat a gale wind by blowing at it with a hair dryer. But sometimes hearing about other people's experience helps. Click To Tweet

My current read is called The Worrier’s Guide to the End of the World, and I’m wishing I had started reading it many months ago. I’m not even entirely sure how long I’ve had it, but it’s one of those ‘guilt’ titles – a review copy I got a while ago and couldn’t review at the correct time. After you fail to, you tend to just leave them hanging indefinitely. I wish I hadn’t. Because I can’t pry myself away from The Worrier’s Guide.

A GIF of a toddler, intensely reading a picture book

It’s a nonfiction book about a woman and her worrying ways, and how she went on an adventure to deal with it. Actually, several adventures. She’s been an anxious person all her life, and she meets someone who radiates belief in the world as if straight from the pages of The Alchemist. The funny thing is that I’m somewhere in the middle of these two women. I am as anxious and prone to work as Torre, the author of the book, but also prone to believing in the magic of the universe, like Torre’s travel companion, Masha. (Well, okay, maybe not The Alchemist levels though. The Alchemist has way too much sugar between the pages.)

But the book is also about the fact that reality is not just black and white – as much as we always want to make it that way. Maybe unbeknownst to ourselves? It’s rooted in our culture, and if a thing is good, it can’t be bad. If a thing is bad, it can’t be good. It’s got to be one of those. But life is so much more! It’s the same with the women’s story of the pilgrimage – perhaps the first time it’s one of them who is strong. The other time it’s the other one. The fact that you radiate joy doesn’t mean you have all the answers. It also doesn’t mean that you’re going to radiate joy steadily for the rest of your life. When it comes to my own thoughts and misconceptions, I know well enough that I tend to think like this as well – that some people just ‘have it together’ and some don’t (mostly me…) But is that really true? Or is it just a lie I keep telling myself?

The Worrier's Guide to the End of the World: Love, Loss, and Other Catastrophes—through India, Italy, and Beyond
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Another thing I am enjoying a lot about Torre’s pilgrimage with Masha is her incredible sense of humor and the ability to laugh at her own self. Sometimes I wish I could learn that, but then again – maybe it’s still in the future for me. The ability to laugh at one’s own self and one’s deficiencies of character is perhaps one of the things that can save an anxiety sufferer from a complete wind down into the darker regions of hell.

The Worrier’s Guide to The End of the World both talks about and laughs at synchronicities as well. It’s almost as if the author hasn’t quite made up her mind about them either. That’s kind of the way with me. Yet I have to mention one that happened while I was reading this book, because even if it’s not on par with the ones in the story, it’s still pretty cool. Do you know that talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie about the danger of telling only one story about people? I had seen that talk years ago. Seen it, loved it and remembered it. Curiously, I had not seen it anywhere for years. But then, I was just scrolling over Facebook and it was there the other day. I remembered it because it had been a while since I’d seen it – at least five years, and I thought that was curious. And then, just a few hours later, as I was reading The Worrier’s Guide, there it was – the author mentioned the very same talk. I thought this was the perfect illustration for how the book talks about synchronicity.

Anyway, in the book, Torre’s friend Masha kept saying that everything happens just as it was meant to be. Maybe it’s no mistake that I picked up this book so much later than I was ‘supposed to’. Maybe it was no coincidence at all. This book was very needed and much appreciated.

Not every book based on another person’s experience is a manual on what to do with your life. This one isn’t either. But sometimes, you just have to hear someone else’s story. Sometimes, that’s enough to help. If only for this time, until you forget it again – forget that you’re not really alone in your little bubble. And a lot of the times, that really is the best that can be done.

I thank the publisher for giving me a copy of this book in exchange to my honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book.

Do you suffer from anxiety? Do you sometimes also feel like it’s just you who suffers from it, and everyone else is fine? Does reading about someone else’s experiences help you feel better and less alone?