We hosted a wine and cheese party just before Christmas. All the guests were asked to bring their favourite wine and cheese. But what they ended up bringing me was a lesson in what my own signs of anxiety look like– and how I can begin to move past them.
Before the party, I found an informal tastings checklist sheet on Pinterest and printed it out. We had slate cheese picks for labeling. We had extra cheese knives for all the types: hard, soft and everything in between. I logged all of the wines on a master sheet. And my charcuterie board was a beautiful sight to behold, if I do say so myself.
Yes, Karen was in fine party prep form. I’d even planned on writing a blog post afterward about how to throw a successful wine and cheese party.
During the party, I did my best to keep everything under control. But you know what happens when you are the hostess; your attention is drawn into a million different directions.
And here’s the thing: some people were into the tastings and others not so much. I found that I quickly had to let go of my expectations of what the event “should” be. I decided to just let my friends eat, drink, and be merry. At that point, I abandoned the master sheet. A wine and cheese party like I’d planned it wasn’t in the cards that evening. Going with the flow and the energies of our guests was.
Was I disappointed? Yeah, a bit. But why? Because I had an expectation of the way it was supposed to go down. But as a former Controller of Everything, I’d say I rolled with the punches pretty darn well and I’m proud of myself. I think my official title is now: Doer of Her Damn Best At Managin’ Expectations and Releasing Them.
After the wine and cheese party, I came across a resource on social media that gave examples of signs of anxiety. One was “the desire to control other people and events”. Now previously, I had no idea that controlling behaviour was an anxious behaviour.
I’ve tried to control other people and events for most of my life and I always thought that it was because I like a plan. Now I’d say that part of it is about having a plan and being organized but another part is anxiety. Insert the big eyeballs here. For me, controlling behaviour is about being safe and having my needs met.
Another behaviour I saw listed as one of the signs of anxiety was defiance. Seriously…my whole childhood I was defiant! I know I was a scared, insecure little girl and defiant and controlling behaviour were most definitely ways to feel safe. Guess what? Defiance in particular definitely didn’t give me the safety I was looking for, but it did get me attention and not the positive kind! Now, I wonder if being stubborn or avoiding compromise is related here?
Well, anyway, thanks to that wonderful but expectation-defying wine and cheese party, I’m newly aware of a life-long struggle with anxiety. It’s so funny to be learning so much about myself in my 50s.
How about you? I would really appreciate keeping a conversation going. If you’d like to share in the comments please do! What are you learning about yourself in your 40s and 50s that comes as an utter surprise?