I was really, really, really hesitant to start this book. I am an anxious person by nature. There’s not a single phobia I have, I’ll move your spiders and snakes out of the way and go on all the roller coasters or in any confined space, no problem. But uncertainty? That turns me into a plague demon. No one likes Anxiety Octothorp, including Octothorp. So even though this book has been recommended to me a dozen times over years, it was a solid year between purchase and cracking the cover.
I blew through it in a couple days.
This might actually be the perfect book for the anxious, as the back cover says, “True fear is a gift, unwarranted fear is a curse. Learn to tell the difference.” The advice contained in the pages could be boiled down into “trust your gut, don’t let politeness direct you to bad decisions, think about what will actually stop unwanted behavior versus what you want to happen, believe people when they tell you who they are.” But that’s not as vivid a message as reading about a city getting a violent threat from a former employee who felt cheated out of 400 dollars. You don’t want to see a threat rewarded, but it was ultimately the best way to get an otherwise normal person out of their hair. You read about domestic violence and wonder how anyone could tolerate it, but then you read of the 911 caller who answers “no” when asked if she is in immediate danger but then allows her husband is pointing a gun at her… but from the other side of a door, so not that immediate.
I loved this book, and it was actually reassuring to read. Obvious trigger warnings for anyone curious, but this was remarkably calming to me, and not in a Bill Dauterive finally snapped way.