This is an interview I had with Nathan P. Butler, co-host of the podcast Star Wars Beyond the Films and author of Greater Good and the Star Wars Timeline Gold among other things which he mentions in the audio interview below. Enjoy!
If you don’t know me personally enough, I’ll tell you that I’m someone who overthinks things and overanalyzes things. I wish I can say that being an over-thinker can be a blessing, but from my experience it’s typically not. I know that people can have the tendency to overthink things from time to time, but my overthinking is a habit. It’s a large part of me that I work on trying to contain week after week. Here’s how overthinking things affects my life and how it can potentially affect yours as well.
To start off, when I’m referring to overthinking things, I’m talking about how someone can look at a friend’s facial expression and wonder why that expression is being used and if it has anything to do with something you’ve said or done, or it can be when something in your life happens like getting a promotion at work, winning a prize in a contest, getting a girlfriend or boyfriend, and you’re wondering why it happened when and what the event could potentially lead up to.
1. Overthinking things can lead you to make conclusions about things that are way off from what they actually are. This is something that I have unfortunately fallen victim to many times, which is why you’d think that after being proven wrong about something after the hundredth time, my mind would start taking a couple steps back but that’s not the case for me. When I realize I’m wrong about something, my mind just moves on to think about something else and then eventually overthinks again.
2. Overthinking things can take your focus off of other things in your life that’s very important to think about and focus on (but not overthink about). When your mind is so bent on overanalyzing something, it typically focuses on that one thing and excludes mostly everything else, which obviously includes things that are very important for you to think about. Trying to figure out the meaning behind a friend’s expression twenty-four hours after it happened is really not worth it when you have to think about how you’re going to manage your day working a job and paying taxes.
3. Overthinking things can change your mind about certain people which can lead you to dislike people or think differently of them that contradicts who they really are. Misreading an expression or a certain action committed by someone else can cause you to think differently of them than what you originally thought. This can also affect the way you treat the other person too, typically in a negative way that the person doesn’t deserve to be treated. To me, this is one of the more heart wrenching aspects of overthinking in my life, because I end up feeling kind of ashamed of myself or guilty for thinking one way about someone or something later on down the road when I realize that my thoughts on the subject at hand were wrong.
4. Overthinking things for long periods of time will cause you to think about the subject again even years later. This is another thing I’ve done. To this day, there are still things I remember from several years ago that I still don’t feel completely satisfied about, and that’s because I overthought about those things at the time and those thoughts were never officially put to rest because they didn’t come to a satisfactory conclusion in my mind, so they’re almost like echoes in my head that makes me stop what I’m doing and think again.
So how can overthinking be officially stopped? The short answer is: it can’t be. At least not “officially”. If overthinking is something you have the tendency of doing, then that means it’s a part of you and will probably always be a part of you, but that doesn’t mean it can’t at least be tamed to a certain extent. A lot of things that happen in your life are exactly what it appears to be and there’s really no use trying to decipher the event. If you’re overthinking about something, that’s usually a sign that you can’t find an answer to a question you have, and you’re not going to find it through overthinking because it’s only going to loop around back to the same question you had. Life is full of things that sparks questions but we can’t waste that life constantly trying to find the answers to those questions. Remembering that will help us be able to move on. You probably won’t be able to relax about it right away, in fact it’s highly unlikely, but you can at least learn to continue living your life and keeping your eyes open to other things that come your way. It’s one of the most intriguing things about life, watching it unfold.
While doing some writing today, I was starting to feel really anxious. I was home alone and the house was quiet. A steady rain was turning on outside and some sunlight leaked out between dark storm clouds. I didn’t like the idea of going out in the rain, but I didn’t want to be at home right now. I was feeling too anxious and didn’t feel like sitting. So, I left without worrying about the rain. It was slow and going off and on, so it wasn’t very annoying while walking. The slow rain actually felt really good in the humidity. I had my hood over my head and I took my iPhone with me but only to see any texts that anyone sends me. I didn’t listen to music like I typically do while I go walking because I wanted to listen for God or maybe I might hear something that I normally wouldn’t hear if I had music on.
I had dinner at McDonalds while the rain continued to switch off and on outside. I felt like by leaving home for a little while, I left my anxieties behind with it. It felt good to be outside in the city instead of alone at home. When I left McDonalds, the rain started to get heavier. I was holding a cup of Dr. Pepper that remains unfinished upstairs. The rain then came down in buckets and I was getting quickly drenched under the downpour. Even sticking underneath the trees wasn’t helping. Thunder began to crash and I realized that things were only going to escalate from there. I started running. Rainwater gathered and leaked through my pathetic excuses for tennis shoes and water sprayed my glasses. I started to laugh. Any remaining anxiety I felt was coming off, although it’s possible I was releasing that anxiety through my laughter. Even as I was running, I took occasional sips from my Dr. Pepper and I said out loud ‘I guess this was something I needed’. Then I started breathlessly singing ‘Something I Need’ by OneRepublic. I got back home drenched and feeling alive.
Why am I sharing this story? Because I love taking advantage of moments like those when I’m feeling anxious or alone. I’ll be honest, I’m normally not a fan of getting drenched, but I decided that since I was going to get drenched on the way home whether I liked it or not, I decided to have fun with it. When you take a circumstance like that and decide to have fun with it, it makes one heck of a difference. I kept the earbuds off and pulled myself out of my head and inserted myself into the real world, and you know what? It’s not that bad.
As a side-note, I know a friend who’s going to think: So that’s what you did after I left the house?
I did not take this picture!
Every writer has his own quirks, like every person. Except a writer’s quirks seem more, well, quirky. So how do I know that I’m a writer at heart? Here’s a list to break it all down:
1. I know I’m a writer because my mind won’t quiet at night, giving birth to a lot of late nights where I’m just thinking about stuff - For instance, just last night I was up until two in the morning just thinking about stuff. I’m the type of guy that always feels like I need to say something. I have a desire to express my opinion on different stuff, which is definitely not always welcome in our culture. That’s why writers have to take time to figure out exactly how they’re going to make their opinion known, and that requires a lot of thinking. But even though thinking is important, doing something is important too. If we think less and do more, we’ll get more accomplished.
2. I know I’m a writer because I’ll take pictures of random stuff without really giving it much thought - For instance, just last night I stopped while walking back home to take a picture of a street light in the dark of night. Odd I know, but that seems to be a habit I’ve picked up lately. Sometimes writers will do things like take pictures or go on walks or suddenly take random notes when they feel inspired. Taking walks without listening to music helps to clear your mind so that your mind will be more open to ideas. Sometimes taking pictures of different sights like certain aspects of nature or parts of a city will help draw inspiration. It just depends on what works better for the person. It’s different with every writer.
3. I know I’m a writer because I tend to skip meals to write or do things to get inspired to write - For instance, today I’m writing this instead of eating lunch. Don’t worry about my health, it’s fine I promise. This is an example of showing that a writer is so passionate about writing that he’ll spend time writing during a time when he would normally be doing something else. There’s something absolutely beautiful about the life of a writer, because with a writer’s life comes a passion to tell stories or write articles that will hopefully make an impact on other people, and he won’t stop until his work is finished so that he can present it to other people.
4. I know I’m a writer because I analyze real life situations and other people - It’s true. I tend to study other people and real life situations, that’s one reason why I also love psychology. One important factor about writing is that you’re supposed to write what you know. A husband who writes might analyze his wife’s personality to help him create a character in a story. I know that may sound weird to you, but it’s true, and in a way you should actually find that a little flattering. That means your writer friend or whatever the writer is to you finds you interesting enough to study and apply what he learns to his writing.
5. I know I’m a writer because I’m too emotionally tuned for my own good - When I’m happy, I’m typically overjoyed. When I’m sad, I’m typically depressed. My mood can vary depending on the moods of everyone else around me and the state of the environment around me. When someone feels emotional pain, I will most likely feel that pain too. I feel an overwhelming joy when someone is happy, as if the same thing that’s happening to that person is happening to me too. It helps me collect a history of personal experiences to incorporate the feelings those experiences give me and others into my writing.
By the way, I did actually get up in the middle of this post to have some lunch. Just to clarify though, I have skipped meals to write or collect inspiration to write before.
School is over for the semester and summer break is upon us. I believe that the American summer dream is to stay home with the shades drawn and keep Netflix on on a 24-hour basis. Don’t worry, that’s kind of my American summer dream too, but I’m hoping this summer will be a little bit different. I’m definitely going to be working a lot more hours this summer since I have nothing else really demanding my attention.
I’m sure though that I’m not the only one who is wondering what I can do over the course of the summer, but it’s good to keep a few things in mind that might help as starting points. Summer break typically only lasts about three months, which sounds like a lot of time but I promise you that time will fly by so fast you’d wonder if you had a summer break at all. Here are some suggestions to think about:
1. Think about your talents and the things you’re passionate about and continue pursuing them now that you have more time. Because it’s true. During the school year, you were busy with schoolwork and studies. Now that all that is off your shoulders (for now), you have more time to practice what you already know and progress through things you love to do. In my case, I’m going to practice my writing a lot more and try to gain a little more publicity through it.
2. Practicing what you love to do is good, but it’s also healthy to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. I know that this is practically preached to the death, but let me also mention the fact that in my opinion, no time in a year is as perfect a time to pursue new things then summer break. Are you curious about playing a musical instrument and have never played one before? Go for it. Are you interested in starting a blog? Go for it. In this day and age, there are countless opportunities to pursue new hobbies and make a name for yourself. You may not become a big-name Internet celebrity or musician by the end of summer (though it isn’t impossible), but you have at least worked hard to move down that path. It takes a lot of patience to get good at something, but given time it’ll be worth it in the end.
3. The relationships that were formed during the school year can be strengthened during the summer. When you get out of school, don’t wait to hang out with your friends when the next semester comes around. See what can be done to further your relationships and make sure to spend time with the people you’ve formed bonds with over the school year. Plus, during summer break, you have more time to do more with your friends like going on trips or maybe even going to public groups or clubs together. There are many possibilities that just takes a little digging.
For a little over a year, I went with a friend of mine named Talia to her youth group, which was called So-Tribe. For some reason, every time I went to a new youth group, it was at a time when the group was going through some major changes like a name change or a youth pastor change. Shortly after I started going to Talia’s youth group So-Tribe, So-Tribe was established as the new name when a new youth pastor stepped in. So-Tribe was an abbreviation of ‘Sold Out’ with the word ‘tribe’ added in because the youth pastor liked the idea of us being warriors for spiritual warfare. Holy cow, that’s awesome…
But anyway, it was typically a one-hour trip to go there, and who wouldn’t want to go to youth group with someone who skateboarded on ice and survived? I mean come on, you know you would absolutely want to. You feel absolutely safe with someone like that. Try it some time. Put Rascal Flatts on on a loop too. Our youth pastor was a guy named Ben, who liked to refer to us all as ‘beautiful people’ when the service was about to start. I’m not entirely sure what he meant by that, but I think I’d like to keep it that way. It’s probably for the best. He was a great youth pastor and always enthusiastic to see me when I came. I remember one time when it was after the service, almost everyone had left, and it was just me, Talia, and Pastor Ben sitting on a couch staring up at these words that were on a rotating lamp, and we spent some time giving our own interpretations for what the words could possibly mean.
Another moment that sticks out to me was when me and Talia were not allowed to talk about Star Wars and Star Trek on the car ride to youth group and back. It was a motivation to talk about this thing called ‘real life’ I guess. Can’t say I knew about it at the time. It was like a foreign concept to me. Well let me just say we couldn’t spend the whole ride there and back without dropping a few Star Wars references. We just tried talking about it in a vague manner. It didn’t work.
I don’t consider this article to be dedicated to anyone in particular, but Talia was a great friend to go to youth group with. It was disappointing when we couldn’t do it together anymore. Still, as I’ve said before in previous articles, it’s good to be grateful for the time we did get to have. It was a highlight in my life because it had its share of great moments and I’ve never gotten to do something like that since then.
In just two and a half weeks I’m turning twenty. When I turned eighteen, that was a big deal because that meant I was ‘legally’ considered an adult. When I turn twenty, I think of that as a big deal because it’s the beginning of a new decade in my life. They say time flies, but I have to say that for me the last ten years have not gone by very fast, except for maybe the last two or three years.
So much has happened in my life in the last decade. I’m not the type of guy to stay in one place for so long. Part of the reason why I feel like the last ten years didn’t necessarily fly is because I’ve lived ‘multiple lives’ during that time. I’ve moved from house to house, gone from church to church, and have met so many people, some of which I still talk to today.
Now, obviously God knows that I’m about to turn twenty, and this last year definitely seemed to show that to me, because He didn’t want me to turn twenty and move on to the next decade before experiencing some pretty big things first. The last three hundred and sixty-five days have been life-changing for me, sometimes in pretty brutal ways. I feel somewhat exhausted from it all, but I also feel grateful too. I know that I wouldn’t have gotten this far if it weren’t for some of the people that God has placed in my life.
There’s no way I’ll be able to talk about everything that has made this last decade memorable for me in this one post. My earliest memory of being ten was when I was telling my Sunday school teacher that I was a ‘pre-teen’ now and how exciting that was for me. Apparently at the time, becoming a teen was such an exciting thing to look forward to. If I had a time machine to take me back to when I was ten, I would definitely go and tell him a lot of things, specifically that he should not look forward to being a teenager.
To me, one of the most interesting things is taking a step back and looking at how much I’ve changed over a certain period of time. Well gosh, I sure hope I’m not the same as I was when I was ten, I’m just saying, it’s cool to see how much I’ve grown and developed since then. It’s like watching a character in a good movie or book develop and be different by the end. Obviously I have some regrets from the past decade, some rather deep ones too that I’m still reminded of, but I won’t allow them to completely take over my feelings because there are things to think about that I should be proud of.
As a quick thing to add, whether you’re about to move on to the next decade of your life or not, think about your life from the past couple years and find out how you’ve grown through the experiences you’ve had during that time. Don’t think so much about the bad, but focus on the good. As I’ve said in previous blog posts, even bad experiences help you develop by the way you face them.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be talking about some specific stuff I’ve experienced in the last decade. I will maybe, maybe, have some pictures up of me from over the past ten years in a few weeks or so. Don’t hold your breath though, I’m a very distracted guy.
Want to know a weird thing about me? If I have to rush out to catch the bus in time in order to get to school or work, I’ll normally shout ‘I’m going on an adventure!’ while I’m running like Bilbo Baggins when he leaves the Shire to go on an adventure that would change his life.
Before you leave this page out of disgust for my weirdness, the point I want to make is that when I shout that out, I’m technically saying the truth. It may not seem like much on most days, but I like to think that my activities during the day are all part of an adventure that’s called ‘life’. Life tends to throw a lot of crap your way, but it also comes with its own share of fond memories and blessings. As the famous quote goes, ‘life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re going to get’.
That’s what makes up a lot of the adventure. There’s so much that life has to offer both good and bad, and it’s all worth living through. Right now, I’m going through some deep issues that makes it difficult for me to want to move on, but I work to push through, and I become stronger because of it. I’ve struggled with not having very many feelings of self-worth or self-value, and I tend to go through some depressive cycles that leaves me feeling exhausted and unsure of what to do. But I’m also reassured by the fact that God loves me exactly for who I am, the fact that I have friends who will support me, and I continue to do what I love to do such as writing. So, how can you view life as an adventure worth traveling?
1. Know that life is unpredictable, so don’t try to guess what will happen the next day - None of us can really guess what will happen tomorrow or a week from today. We may know of certain things that are coming up, but we don’t know how they’ll play out. I tend to fantasize how things will play out a lot, and 99.9% of the time, I’m wrong. I think that’s solid proof there to believe that we can never really accurately guess to the letter how something will happen when it happens.
2. Don’t approach something out of fear, but instead be open-minded and hopeful - If we approach things in life out of fear, we may not be open-minded enough to discover how they can either benefit us or help make us stronger. We need to be hopeful. That isn’t to say that nothing will ever go wrong. We’re bound to go through experiences that we wish we never had to go through. That’s part of the adventure. The part that none of us really like. Did Bilbo enjoy getting captured by trolls or getting stuck in a game of riddles with Gollum? I wouldn’t think so, I wouldn’t enjoy those things either. But what’s important is that when we go through a difficult experience, we try to see what we have learned in the process. There will be times when we lose something, but at the same time we may gain something too.
3. It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey - Don’t worry about where certain things in your life may lead you, but instead, live in the moment so that you can view where you are in the ‘here and now’ (I’m using way too many nerdy references in this blog for my own good). Ten years from now, when you look back on an event that changed your life, you’ll be able to see more clearly how it changed you. It’s part of the adventure.