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Knowledge and The Anxiety Surprise

The Year Butt | 2023

by Candi Bartlett | December 31, 2023

Do you have anxiety? Do you hate not knowing stuff? When you know stuff, does it give you a bajiggity feeling when other people don’t know you know? Did you know your need to know could be feeding your anxiety? Neither did I. How fun for us! 


I haven’t had a real anxiety attack in a couple years, which is great! And through lots of work and support. So, when I did have one earlier in year, it was a surprise and had a clarity with it. I realized, not knowing something wasn’t making me angry, it was picking at my anxiety. The feeling that I couldn’t possibly take care of everything, be on top of all of the action items, carry the much too heavy weight if I didn’t know some part of the equation. Not knowing was overwhelming my anxiety. 


In the beginning, there was little knowledge but it was everything we needed. Instinct. The ability to contemplate the rain, how it made us wet and cold, then find a way to go about our lives in the rain. We made shelter. We made a coat. And now, we make little raincoat/hat combos for our pets. Because we know. They’re cold and wet. And that sucks. Knowledge is good for us all. 


Now, there is endless knowledge. Everything from knowing what time to catch your bus to knowing how to navigate your boss’ mood on a bad day. We know how to treat our ailments, or how to get that information. Knowing about recycling (garbage, am I right?), knowing about the price gauging of U.S. pharmaceuticals. How to read a second language, how to book a flight, how to follow new math (or not). The little kid in me who wanted to know all of the things really didn’t realize how many things there were to know just to be. Some of us - maybe those with constantly running brains, who see images in their head and have an inner monologue and inner conversations who can’t stop the scroll because all of the info is RIGHT THERE - have some sort of anxiety around knowing. Mine is two-fold. 


One is not knowing what happens next. It sort of gives me the heebes. Not always. Stuff like whether or not the next road trip stop will be pleasant does not cause upset. But, when are those documents coming over? What time will the plane be here? Is the conveyor belt going to move so fast I can’t get my groceries on and the people around me will be furious? Will that fluster cause me to drop the chips? WILL IT? Those situations rub along my anxiety like an itchy sweater.


The other  - people not knowing that I know. Somewhere in me I carry a little anxiety about people not knowing that I know stuff. It doesn’t matter what the topic is, whether I have the solution to a problem or the academic low-down. Maybe it’s because I want to be ever so smart and if a person smarts but no one hears it, did they even smart at all?  


Really, when I look at all of the humans and our global troubles, which filter right down into our individual world bubbles, it sort of seems like none of us know anything. WOAH.


In an attempt to clear my brain space up just a bit - I do love an end-of-the-year cleaning - I’m trying to focus on the things I know for sure so I don’t get lost in anxiety soup. 


Like, I know what I know and that does not change if what I know isn’t broadcast. And that the humans are causing trouble to nature, so I will love the planet as much as I can. I know if the humans don’t take care of each other existence will swallow us whole, so I will help my community. I know happiness comes when we are completely ourselves and only we know what we have inside. I will help build a world where we are all fucking thrilled to share ourselves with each other. 


When I think about knowing this way, the base of the things, it does not make me anxious. All of the other data, the ‘when’s and ‘how’s of it all. That’s just the sprinkles. 


Happy end of the year to you, fellow humans! May we not get lost in the power of knowledge.


P.S. To be super clear, I love sprinkles. All different kinds. The sprinkles are still important. I just don’t need to freak out about the sprinkles, ya know?


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