Don’t spread the bad—Why talking through it actually won’t make it better

“Kara, what do you think about that?”

On Monday I was sitting on a conference call with the VP of sales, the marketing manager (my direct boss), and one other coworker. As the other three are located in San Francisco and Chicago, I was sitting in a phone booth (a personal-sized conference room) by myself. And I had absolutely zero clue what my VP was talking about.

“I’m not going to lie, I have absolutely no clue what you just asked me.” Honesty is the best policy.

I had spent the past ten minutes scratching the absolute shit out of my right arm. The whole thing erupted in red bumps, I started Googling urgent care clinics within walking distance, and then I snapchatted a picture of my arm to my boss.

“Kara’s having an allergic reaction, she just snapchatted me a picture and—not gonna lie—it looks pretty gross.” Thanks, boss.

Three hours and one shot later, I was just leaving urgent care with a prescription for two steroids. Then I bought myself three tacos because I felt I earned it.

This kind of thing happens to me a lot.

I have never been a superstitious person, and never will be, but sometimes I feel I have a black cloud that follows me around. An allergic reaction was peanuts compared to the situations I sometimes find myself in, yet when I came home and told my roommate about my day, all she could say was, “Why does the weirdest stuff always happen to you??”

Earlier this year I decided I was going to make every attempt to cut negativity from my life. I needed a few lessons in this department. Luckily, I have pretty baller friends and family to take notes from. When I think of the most positive people in my life, I think of two people: one is my brother, the other is my college roommate.

This spring I was on a trip with my brother and two of his best friends. I’ve lived on the east coast since I graduated from college, but my entire family lives in the Midwest.  The two friends asked me how often I made it home.

“Well, it varies—when our dad had surgery last summer, I went home for a whole month.”

“Oh, what did he have surgery on?”

All I could do was blink. These two had been friends with my brother since high school—the better part of two decades—and they didn’t have a clue our dad had surgery for prostate cancer the year before.

Now, unless my parents have something they need to tell me, my brother and I have the same dad. All of my friends knew about my dad’s surgery, and we say ‘cheers to that’ every time another negative blood test comes in.

I talked about it. My brother didn’t.

My college roommate is the same way. I lived with her all but one year in college, and I think I heard her say…two bad things in four years. Her car got broken into (windows smashed, radio stolen—the whole nine yards) our first semester freshman year, and her response was “Oh well.”

Oh well????

Michelle and I

It’s not as though bad things don’t happen to these people. Bad things happen, they just don’t drag them out after the initial incident. They just isolate a bad situation to the situation itself—so unless they are actually living it, they stop talking about it. I refer to this as ‘don’t spread the bad.’

I told this theory to my friend Paula, who bothered to look it up.

When it comes to the brain, remembering an experience is like reliving it. Meaning, if you eat an apple for breakfast, and later you think about eating that apple, the same brain waves will be activated.

Or, to bring it a little more closer to home:

  • If you have a fight with your roommate, and later you talk about that fight to your friends, you are reliving that fight.
  • If you go through a breakup, and you keep talking about your ex, you are reliving that relationship.
  • If your ideas are criticized at work, and you go home and complain about work to your spouse, you’re reliving that criticism.

So, someone—say my college roommate—would only live each of these experiences once. I, on the other hand, someone who never knows when to shut up, would relive them half a dozen times. Or more, depending on how fired up I am. How pointless is that? If the scenario sucked so much the first time around, why would I want to keep putting myself through it?

Some of the situations I get myself into are pretty amusing. The number of car accidents I’ve been in is a little impressive. And obscene. The time I had to call 911 on myself because I locked myself out of my office and the fire department showed up, is also a classic. Me interrupting a business call because I’m going into an allergic reaction—well, there are worse things in the world. Other things just don’t need to be relived.

F is for forgetting and moving on.

1 Comment
  1. Dear Kara, Your blog was interesting. We all react to experiences differently. Men express their feelings less often and with less detail than women.

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For All the F Words
You have flaws. You f-up on a daily basis. And that should be ok.