Every family, group and organization needs a Designated Worrier, a position similar to the Designated Hitter in baseball, who bats for the inept batter, usually the pitcher. This is a most important position. The Designated Worrier frees the other group members to go forth and produce. When I was a child, the Designated Worrier in our family was my Dad. When I became an adult, with my own family, I took on the job.
Yet, one day, I became dissatisfied with this most important position. I said to myself, “I don’t like lying awake at night for hours, often until then sun peeks over the edge, leering at my distress. Furthermore, I detest pacing the floor at 3: am.” Walking the floor is an essential component of worrying.
Giving up a very important position does not happen overnight. I worried over this for many weeks, even months. Then one day I realized nobody had assigned me the job. I had volunteered.
That triggered the Committee to call me in for a meeting, this meeting comparable to a summit conference. The Committee is my own personal group of advisors. In the past we met frequently. Often they participated in the worry sessions. The Committee Voices are not too smart, but they are faithful.
“You must think carefully about giving up this job,” the Committee said. “Consider the payoff.”
“There is no salary for Worrier,” I replied.
“We didn’t say salary; we said payoff. You get to feel important and powerful and in control.”
So I considered this long and hard.
Now, in the midnight sessions with my mind, I often wrote scripts. I wrote scripts for what he would say and what she would do and then what I would say and what he and she would say back. Then another scenario would pop into my mind, so I wrote alternate scripts for all the possible endings. I thought this was very clever of me. However, nobody ever followed the script I had so carefully and brilliantly written. This often made me grind my teeth because then I had to write new scripts.
I returned to the Committee. “The payoffs are phony,” I said. “I’m not getting any importance, any power or any control.”
“You are getting smarter, grasshopper,” the Committee replied.
“So how do I get out of this job I have had for so many years?” I asked.
“How did you get in?” They queried back.
“Oh,” I said.
So, one night after long and careful deliberation, I fired myself. It was a painful decision, fraught with anguish. After all, I had never before been fired from any position. Then I worried that I might feel shame. That’s when I also fired my script writer. I watched as they stomped out, hand in hand, and slammed the door.
I wondered how my friends would react to my drastic move. They didn’t even notice. Not one person brought to my attention that I was not on the job or that things were not running as smoothly as previously. In fact, things seemed to run better than before. My life took on a rosy hue. When a person spoke with me, I merely listened, considered, and then answered. I didn’t need a script. I discovered conversation was fun. I quit worrying about what people thought about me. I discovered Life is, things are the way they are, and worry changes nothing.
However, if you are the Designated Worrier for your group or family, I do not recommend you follow my steps. There are dangers in all decisions. Designated Worriers are essential elements for the running of our world, and furthermore, essential to getting anything done. I have made a study of this and here are a couple examples.
Our small community theatre group in Washington had a Designated Worrier. Thanks to David taking on the task, the rest of us were able to proceed to build the Jewel Box Theatre. We could never have accomplished this without him so capably removing the onerous task of worry from our shoulders.
Our city has its own Designated Worrier who attends every city council meeting to tell us what we should be worrying about. We listen carefully and nod, knowing that he is doing such a fine job that none of us needs to take it on. Furthermore, he regularly tells us how stupid we are for not following his well-thought out suggestions, thus keeping us from getting the Big-Head.
If you look at groups around you, with a little practice, you too will learn to identify the Designated Worrier. Thank that person profusely for a good job well done. Fringe benefits like this are hard to come by.