Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Relax, don't do it.

Last week I had my final acupuncture treatment. When I left the exam room, I found myself waiting in line to return my chart and pay. So, I decided to take a quick gander at my chart. There was very little written, probably because the reason I was going (smoking cessation) was cut and dry and because of the fact that I this was my third and final visit. At the bottom of the chart I notice one word, written by the doctor: anxious. I have been thinking about this one word for almost a week now and have to say I am troubled by it. This word has such a negative vibe to it. It is an ugly word, almost as ugly as the word bunion.

It doesn’t take a doctor to put the classification of anxious on me. I am admittedly anxious. So why did this one word on my chart bother me so much? So, I looked up the definition of the word and here is what I found:

anx·ious ( ngk sh s, ng sh s) KEY ADJECTIVE:
1. Uneasy and apprehensive about an uncertain event or matter; worried.
2. Attended with, showing, or causing anxiety: spent an anxious night waiting for the test results.
3. Usage Problem Eagerly or earnestly desirous.

OTHER FORMS: anx ious·ly (Adverb), anx ious·ness (Noun) Usage Note: Anxious has a long history of use roughly as a synonym for eager, but many prefer that anxious be used only when its subject is worried or uneasy about the anticipated event. In the traditional view, one may say We are anxious to see the strike settled soon but not We are anxious to see the new show of British sculpture at the museum. Fifty-two percent of the Usage Panel rejects anxious in the latter sentence. But general adoption of anxious to mean "eager" is understandable, at least in colloquial discourse, since it provides a means of adding emotional urgency to an assertion. It implies that the subject so strongly desires a certain outcome that frustration of that desire will lead to unhappiness. In this way, it resembles the informal adjective dying in sentences such as I'm dying to see your new baby.

How dare 52% of the Usage Panel (who is on this panel anyway?) deny me of the positive usage of anxious. At least the usage of the word in this way is “understandable.” Who writes this stuff? This was the exact context of the word I was looking for, so I’ve decided to just go with it. It makes me feel better, knowing that this form of the definition exists, even though it is wildly unpopular among dictionary writers. Maybe Dr. Pin Prick sensed that I was “eager” to quit smoking and this lead to his “anxiety” assessment. Maybe my desire to quit has caused me to be anxiously anxious?

I think what bothers me most about the anxious label is the fact that over three visits, I spent approximately 5 minutes talking to the Doctor. Was my anxiousness that transparent? After I leave the checkout line at Kroger does the cashier think, “Wow, that woman sure is anxious!” I really do try and focus on being relaxed, calm. But, I’m not even sure I can pull calm off in my sleep. It is just not who I am.

In reality, we are all freaks. Each of us possessed with some weirdness that we can’t control. I probably have a bit more weirdness than most, at least that is what I am told. But, it is this weirdness that makes us interesting, unique individuals. So, I am going to embrace it, and stop fighting it. And besides, what does an acupuncturist know anyway?

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