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Things NOT To Worry About…Advice From F. Scott Fitzgerald

Exam results day transports us all straight back to that moment where we picked up our own results.

It’s a strange day, one full of different emotions – mostly anxiety and worry.

Which reminded me of this wise list of things to worry, not worry, and think about.

In 1933 F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote this letter to his 11 year old daughter who was away at camp. I think that it really puts things in perspective, no matter what your age or your current worries.

La Paix, Rodgers’ Forge
Towson, Maryland

August 8, 1933

Dear Pie:

I feel very strongly about you doing duty. Would you give me a little more documentation about your reading in French? I am glad you are happy — but I never believe much in happiness. I never believe in misery either. Those are things you see on the stage or the screen or the printed pages, they never really happen to you in life.

All I believe in in life is the rewards for virtue (according to your talents) and the punishments for not fulfilling your duties, which are doubly costly.

Things to worry about:

Worry about courage
Worry about Cleanliness
Worry about efficiency
Worry about horsemanship
Worry about…

Things not to worry about:

Don’t worry about popular opinion
Don’t worry about dolls
Don’t worry about the past
Don’t worry about the future
Don’t worry about growing up
Don’t worry about anybody getting ahead of you
Don’t worry about triumph
Don’t worry about failure unless it comes through your own fault
Don’t worry about mosquitoes
Don’t worry about flies
Don’t worry about insects in general
Don’t worry about parents
Don’t worry about boys
Don’t worry about disappointments
Don’t worry about pleasures
Don’t worry about satisfactions

Things to think about:

What am I really aiming at?
How good am I really in comparison to my contemporaries in regard to:

(a) Scholarship
(b) Do I really understand about people and am I able to get along with them?
(c) Am I trying to make my body a useful instrument or am I neglecting it?

With dearest love,

Daddy

So here’s my message to all you 18 year old’s on the start of your journey in life…

So you didn’t get the exam results you wanted? Don’t worry, re-sit or get a job, re-sit and go to uni in a few years when you have a better idea of what you what. It’s not the end of the world – in fact, it’s just the beginning.

Got what you wanted and now worried about leaving home or whether you’ve made the right choice? Don’t. It’ll all slot in and it’s not permanent. There’s always ways out and you are allowed to change your mind – at any time.

You can read the full letter on F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Life in Letters.

5 Comments

  1. Worrying gives us nothing of benefit Rachael, Thankfully I got rid of this virus of worrying a while back as it was holding me back with my life, People have a tendency of worrying, worrying about making wrong decisions or mistakes. I love making mistakes, without them I can I grow. Mistakes are an essential part of life, so why would you worry? Great post thanks for sharing 😉

  2. You just took me back 40 or so years. I was right there, waiting for the results of my GCE exams from Univ of London. (Caribbean native) my results were disappointing, but i was more sad than surprised. I decided to resit, and this time put more effort into it. In the following year, I accomplished better results, simply by telling myself , that this is the real world, and I have to be ready to meet it, on its own terms.
    Thanks for posting.

  3. I like to focus on faith and trust. When you stand on a strong foundation of faith and trust, fear, worry, and doubt collapses. Confusion turns to clarity, fear transforms into courage, worry and doubt becomes confidence.

  4. I love the message here, although I choose not to use the word worry. Instead, if I find myself using the word, I ask myself why and what I actually want. This shifts my mindset to the positive. I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. That reason may be that we have a lesson to learn, or life is trying to tell us something, or we’re not pursuing our life purpose. I flunked out of college my first year due to being bored with the subject material (and a crazy ex boyfriend). I look back now and I’m thankful that I didn’t graduate with an engineering degree because I would be bored to tears with my job, and it’s no where near my life purpose. Thank you for sharing Rach. 🙂

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