That's not a thing...

"That's not a thing." These four words recently changed my life. 

It started when I needed to call for help after being locked out of the synagogue on Rosh Hashanah. My fob didn’t work, so I called Julie, a choir member who lives nearby. I am always the first in. I like to sing through some things before my choir arrives for their warm up. 

Julie is part of the temple’s leadership, and I knew she would have a key.  She was able to get us in, but the help she gave me that night ran far deeper than learning that there is another fob entrance in the back. It was even more helpful than her marathon training that enabled her to sprint to the front door in time to turn the alarm off before the police came. 

I always have anxiety about High Holiday services. I work for months to prepare, and I know that the music is an important part of the experience for people. As much as I prepare, my instrument is human, and I worry that I won’t have full access to it. I worry that if my voice isn’t up to everyone’s expectations I won’t be hired back. I don’t want to let anyone down. 

In a moment of anxiety, I told Julie about my worries. She said, “That's not a thing.” Her words echoed what the wonderful rabbi I work with has also told me. As I listened to Julie, I knew she was right. It enabled me to shed some of the pressure I felt, and to be in the moment. I now believe that a less than perfect note won’t let everyone down. That's not a thing… 

Another annual anxiety is about an amazing concert series I have been honored to be included in. These shows have enabled me to both build my mailing list and presence, and to open shows for some of my heroes. I look forward to it all year, and it has been wonderful fun. I spend a lot of energy preparing for these shows and promoting them. I have always sold a lot of tickets, and yet every year I worry that I won’t be invited back. 

Last week, I wrote to the promoter to ask if I would be invited back next season, and his email back to me was two words, “Of course.” I thought about my anxiety and heard an echo of Julie’s words, “That's not a thing.” 

It happened again two days ago. I had to run to the store for food. I was sick and not quite myself. After paying for my food, I stopped to put my credit card away, and I thought I was taking too long and blocking traffic. I mumbled to myself, “I am in everyone’s way.” I didn’t know anyone heard me, but a voice from behind me said, “You’re not in anyone’s way. You’re fine.” Again, Julie’s voice saying, “That's not a thing.” 

Some of my fears are real, but I am learning the power of telling myself, “That's not a thing.” It feels like a revelation. These words changed the way I look at my worries. I wonder if they can change yours too. I hope so…

4 comments

  • Bryan Abes

    Bryan Abes Kennett Square, Pennsylvania

    I take the saying “that’s not a thing” to mean that’s not a real issue; that’s not really something worth getting into a frenzy about. I suppose it could help me. Often times I get anxiety about things I need to accomplish in life, and I start getting all these “what if’s” in my head when it may not be necessary. The saying “that’s not a thing” could potentially help, but often times, I find myself telling telling me a saying that you said your sister once told you. That is “don’t worry until you have something to worry about” that one tends to help me. “That’s not a thing” definitely has potential to do the same. Best wishes always, -Bryan

    I take the saying “that’s not a thing” to mean that’s not a real issue; that’s not really something worth getting into a frenzy about. I suppose it could help me. Often times I get anxiety about things I need to accomplish in life, and I start getting all these “what if’s” in my head when it may not be necessary. The saying “that’s not a thing” could potentially help, but often times, I find myself telling telling me a saying that you said your sister once told you. That is “don’t worry until you have something to worry about” that one tends to help me. “That’s not a thing” definitely has potential to do the same. Best wishes always,
    -Bryan

  • Denise Moser

    Denise Moser

    I am glad it’s a phrase that you find useful. Sometimes things are a thing, but it’s good to know the difference. Always wishing you the best... Thanks for sharing your thoughts here.

    I am glad it’s a phrase that you find useful. Sometimes things are a thing, but it’s good to know the difference. Always wishing you the best... Thanks for sharing your thoughts here.

  • harry

    harry mars

    some of my life never really happened. i made it up in my head. conversations with people that haven't taken place. fantasies about what might happen on a date, what might i do on the test. or what might happen if i go on stage and play in front of people...OMG. nothing has actually happened but it still feels like 'a thing'. truth is...it's not a thing. it's a unthing

    some of my life never really happened. i made it up in my head. conversations with people that haven't taken place. fantasies about what might happen on a date, what might i do on the test. or what might happen if i go on stage and play in front of people...OMG. nothing has actually happened but it still feels like 'a thing'. truth is...it's not a thing. it's a unthing

  • Denise Moser

    Denise Moser

    Hi Harry, I can relate to that, so much energy spent on unthings! It a good thing to keep in check. I am working on it. Thanks so much for your thoughts. They are always welcome here.

    Hi Harry, I can relate to that, so much energy spent on unthings! It a good thing to keep in check. I am working on it. Thanks so much for your thoughts. They are always welcome here.

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