Afternoon InquisitionSkepticism

AI: Angst Much?

I’m so full of angst. I’m an adult male, but I could easily be an extra in that Dracula vs. Wolfman movie all the teenagers are going wild for, just on my angst level alone. Forget the fact that I don’t sparkle and can formulate complete, coherent sentences around women. Forget the fact that I’m not pretty enough to play the lead . . . the male lead. When it comes to angst, I am the reigning world champion.

Say what you will about teenage years. Sure they’re tough. But the angst and stress we go through as teenagers, where surpremely important at the time, can spring from very trivial things. Angst has an entirely different flavor in the adult world. Jobs are on the line. Families. Marriages.

My god, it’s Thanksgiving Day, and I woke up angst-ridden. I’m anxious about the upcoming family gathering. Is grandpa going to tell highly inappropriate jokes to the children? Is my uncle Earl going to drink too much and admit to a gay love affair? Are my sister and my cousin going to get into a slap fight over lumpy mash potatoes?

That would be horrible . . . . if none of those things happened.

I don’t know. I started drinking at daybreak to handle my anxiety about today, and I’m going to continue that special program of coping for the next couple of days or so. In the meantime:

What is causing you angst? Job? Marriage? Holidays? How do you de-angst yourself? Booze? Drugs? Sex? And . . . wait for it . . . What are you thankful for? (Ugh . . . trite AI questions just add to my angst.)

The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear daily at 3pm ET.

Sam Ogden

Sam Ogden is a writer, beach bum, and songwriter living in Houston, Texas, but he may be found scratching himself at many points across the globe. Follow him on Twitter @SamOgden

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  1. I’m sorry to inform you that I put the chupa in the cabras. My RL name is Angstberto and *I* am the angst champion.

    Listening to music – almost any kind will do – helps me a lot. Years ago I learned to mimic the physical sensation (numbness) of Valium, so I didn’t have to actually ingest the pill. I like booze, specially rum, but I don’t really go into drinking – I worry about getting drunk!

    I am thankful for this and a precious few other Internet communities.

    I am thankful for Logic and the Scientific Method.

    Perhaps most specially I am thankful for the distribution/availability of information.

  2. Things I angst about: exams, mom overreacting things, mom’s health sometimes, money, getting lost, and the big one: becoming a valuable person – will I make it or not? (Recovering dyscalculic here, with a very supportive tutor helping me along the way.)

    Things to get my mind off the angst: Tetris, fun with friends, science lectures, reading, writing, music, cutting, or just a good meal.

    Thankfulness: the internet, my IQ, my friends, the books I love, that I don’t have to dress “weather-appropriate” because I never feel cold, science and all the awesomeness humankind achieved with it, the beautiful things I see daily (night skies with the moon shining thru clouds, glittering insects, neon-colored strings, insides of cadavers, mischievous kittens, etc.), music, chocolate, oxytocin, having my own room while everyone around me is packed in groups of three, and good teachers.

  3. What’s causing me Angst? well let’s see…
    I’m Single
    I’m 6 weeks shy of 38
    I’m not remotely finacially secure
    and in spite of having a degree in journalism, I blow up Balloons for a living. Really.

    How do I deal with the angst?
    Mostly I take a deep breath, shrug, and just stop worrying about it. After all, it’s only two years to the apocalypse.

  4. Angst – Unemployed, but not really all that angsty about it. It’s annoying at best.

    De-angsting – Reading a good book; watching TED talks; listening to free lectures from various universities; working out; upgrading my cooking skills

    Thankful – Just glad I’m alone today and can do what I want; which is all of the above.

  5. Angsting about: Losing my health insurance last month, after a year with medical bills topping $350,000. Watching my business slip into non-existence, partly because of the recession, partly because of the medical issues. Worrying because I have sarcoidosis w/ bone involvement, which tends to be permanent; in the past, it’s gone into remission.

    Thankful that: I got both knees replaced, which substantially reduced the OA pain level; that I had insurance when I slipped and broke my pelvis in three; that my doctors are all good folk who are willing to see me for what the insurance would have paid them, which wasn’t much.

    Thankful for the Biophysicist and the Offspring, both of whom took care of me when I needed them to, both of whom I love more than tongue can tell. Thankful for Izzi and Kiri, two rescue kittens, now full grown cats with distinct personalities, whom the Biophysicist spoils rotten, having learnt to be a cat lover now that he lives with some. [My previous cats had to make do with crumpled paper; they were especially happy when I was writing my thesis.]

  6. Personal angst: putting together my application for tenure stuff.

    Global angst: greenhouse gasses, melting glaciers, etc.

    De-angsting: glass of wine or laughing (Eddie Izzard is great for this)

    Thankful for: family (human and feline); a job I love

  7. It took a nasty divorce followed by a really stressful menial job and a decade of hand to mouth living to finally burn all the angst from me. Now at 41 I am finally pretty cool with it all.

    There comes a breaking point, after which nothing else seems so bad. It’s different for everyone but i’m enjoying myself now, and long may it last.

  8. Currently, my angst is coming from my ex, who I am providing a substantial chunk of support to (not court mandated… just “If she doesn’t get this help she will be on the street” mandated). Means money is tight and a relationship… were I of the opinion that I’m currently unselfish enough to handle one… would have to be with someone tolerant of me spending a huge chunk of change on my ex-wife. Not likely.

    I destress with video games and a couple weekly D&D games. Music helps, too… there are a few songs (like Mark Seibert’s The Magic Meadow, from Quest for Glory I) that simply chill me right out, and let the day continue without people getting killed.

  9. The Ã…ngström unit. Sure it SEEMS to be just an innocent measure of wavelength, but if that’s really true, then why did they why did they name it Ã…NGSTröm?

    I’m really worried that there is something seriously wrong with photons that they’re not telling us about.

  10. What is causing you angst? My TMJ, my insomnia, my back pain, and people being wrong on the internet.

    How do you de-angst yourself? Booze, sometimes, but mostly I just try to follow my own advice about stuff and remember I can only do so much. I can’t do everything.

    What are you thankful for? My husband, my home, my financial situation, my family, my friends, my library card, re-usable shopping bags, and potatoes.

  11. Job? Nope. Get there, do it, then get home.
    Marriage? There has to be a woman to voulonteer for that right?
    Holidays? Yeah, chrismas eve. Ant thats i-
    Booze? Sure.
    Drugs? No, never
    Sex? As soon as i’m ready for it. And . . . wait for it . . . What are you thankful for? Damn right nothing.

  12. I’m not an angsty person, I’m too emotionally level / numb for that. It helps that my life is pretty good, so I don’t have anything to angst about really.

  13. Ooooh, I can angst about nearly anything, I’m a worrier at heart. At the moment it’s the static nature of my career (ground to a halt with the recession) and when to move back home to Australia, and how to afford to, and whether my other half will be happy there.

    Getting a sense of perspective usually helps me deal with it, be it appreciating that I’m probably better off than about 90% of the population of the world, or just trying to take in the sheer awesomeness of nature, or the size and beauty of the universe. Of course, wine, food and cuddles help too. Oh, and listening to We Are All Connected by Symphony of Science can cheer me out of any dark mood at the moment.

  14. Causes me angst:
    Having been single for most of my life, and finding that to be more and more of a problem when I do finally meet someone every time hell gets a little cold spell …

    De-angst using:
    Hard-core optimism.
    If it wasn’t for that, I’d have already become a miserable wreck years ago. I fuel my optimism with TV and movies (they always have happy endings).
    Of course, booze is never far away.

    Right now, more angsting about meeting that girl I like again at a party tomorrow. Trying to be optimistic despite the fact I’m convinced it’s not going to lead to anything. Oh, and I can’t drink because I’m the designated driver, and also working the bar at the aforementioned party.

    Optimism man, it’s the only thing that gets me through. The irrational ability to say “Meh, everything ‘ll be fine in the end“, even though I pretend not to believe that.

  15. Angst- No nothing I can pick out causes me angst.
    I don’t want to lose my job, but I’ve survived it in the past and will do so again if necessary. My toughts on this are relatively basic.

    The world will continue to spin with or without me so I might as well enjoy the ride.

  16. I’m currently applying for graduate school (in microbiology), which involves all sorts of wonderful stressors like making sure I have all my letters of recommendation, writing various essays, and other things that the rest of my life might hinge on. At the same time, I currently live with my girlfriend (of three years), and I have no idea what we’d do if we got into different graduate schools. Should we both go to a “lesser” school so we can stay together, or try to do a long-term relationship in the interests of getting a better education? I’m opting for the former.

    And I have a few lovely chronic medical problems.

    All in all, thinking about how good, relatively speaking, I have things makes such concerns seem really trivial. I have a friend with a bone disease that has meant every winter since he was about ten he’s had to go in and get surgery to remove bone growths from various parts of his body, which usually leaves him struggling to walk, unable to use an arm for a few months, and various other fun things.

    And, you know, about 14,000,000 people currently have active Tuberculosis infections. That’s just one infectious disease.

    If many dedicated and ingenious people hadn’t spent countless years developing the medical practices and technology we have today, I think it’s safe to say all our lives would suck a whole lot more. This is pretty good motivation to stop being angsty, and to get to work where they left off.

  17. My parents are splitting up and this week has been the most angsty week so far. I met my dad’s new girlfriend, the one he left my mom for. They aren’t even divorced yet. It sucks hard and I can hardly go for an hour without crying.

    How do I de-angst? I haven’t figured that out yet.

  18. I’ve been a very fortunate person.

    I also happen to handle obstacles well. So on those few occasions when significant stressors come my way, I attack by addressing those issues that I can influence. I attack intellectually first, problem solving, and finally adapting to change if needed. That which I cannot influence I try the best I can to not worry about, but I often have to take that energy and divert it. That is usually accomplished through exercise, especially through challenging myself with new goals or different routines.

    I am thankful that I have enough financial freedom to travel, which allows me seek and explore novelty, which excites my mind like nothing else and creates change in me.

    I am thankful that I have an incredible family that allows me the rock solid foundation from which I can safely explore my world.

  19. Angst inducers in current script of my life: losing contact with my parents and youngest brother/family because I “came out of the atheist closet” and then stood my ground when my mom began to totally trash my daughter/SIL because they were going to raise their daughter in a skeptical lifestyle. WTF I say. It breaks my heart, but I never trashed them because of their God-fearing beliefs, it was their choice and I loved them anyway. Why can’t I have mine without losing love?

    Warm and fuzzy inducers: my spouse of 27 years, my son, daughter/SIL/7 mo old granddaughter. Life is good.

    What helps run angst out the door? hugs, sex, chocolate, long talks about silly stuff, rocking that sweet baby while she snuggles in my arms. Really just about any mundane daily thing that reminds me life goes on, so why sweat the crappy stuff.

  20. I’m a female teacher in the south. Half the staff was confused when I didn’t change my name after I got married, and I get to hear all about the glory of god on a regular basis.

    My principal is an asshole (he’s threatening to fire me because I don’t keep up appearances – gotta look good, regardless of your ability to teach kids). Just because my desk is messy and I’m still figuring out the curriculum (hello, first year teaching first grade) does not mean I am a shitty teacher.

    Money could be better, but I’m living more comfortably than ever, so things are okay.

    And I can’t seem to pass roller derby tryouts. I want so badly to play.

  21. Typical parental angst for my kid’s success/happiness in life and I’m thankful for my great kids and the prospect of their eventual departure. I decided many years ago existential angst wasn’t worth the time or energy.

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