Living by the Numbers

Playground numbers

Article by Wendy McCance

The other day I was driving my daughter to an appointment.  She asked me a question (I can’t remember the exact topic), but I do remember saying, something along the lines of, “I can’t wait because in 5 years…”  My daughter became exasperated and said, “you always talk about in 5 years this or next month that, everything with you is based on numbers and what will happen in the future.  You know what?  She’s right!

I’ve always had a tendency to live by the numbers and over the years, it has gotten worse.  When I was young, it was all innocent enough.  I would dream about what life would be like at 16 years old, or I would say that I couldn’t wait until I was 21 years old because then I’d be officially an adult with no legal limitations of any sort.

Later in life, I used numbers as a coping mechanism.  I worked for a manufacturer who closed the plant I worked at leaving me out of a job.  To deal with it, I would envision my life 5 years down the road.  I’d think, 5 years from now I’ll be just fine and it won’t matter that I lost my job. In fact, I’ll probably have an even better job.  This became my mantra.  Look to the future and picture a better life than the one that is being currently dealt to you.

So, all these years later, I live off the numbers.  It is now a habit of mine.  I’ll plan out what I want to accomplish a month from now.  I’ll dream about where the family will be financially a year from now.  I’ll think about the life my husband and I will have ten years from now when the kids are adults, living on their own.

The most important number that looms over my head is how many years I will have left to live.  When I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, I looked online and learned that the average life expectancy for someone with my stage of cancer was 5 years.  After talking with people and going to a support group, I have learned that the information is not only outdated, but until you start treatment, the countdown does not begin.  So much for researching information on the internet.  Apparently, although not a curable disease, there have been great advances made in the treatment of multiple myeloma.

I am grateful that I am in the smoldering multiple myeloma stage and relieved to know that there are people who have had the disease for 10, 15 and on occasion 20 years.  The thing is, every time I have pain, a bruise or sore ribs, I get scared.  I begin panicking that the countdown is about to begin.

I need to listen to my daughter and ditch the numbers.  Always looking to the future, whether good or bad has become a negative experience.  What was once thought of as planning for the future or some innocent daydreaming has turned into not being present right now as life stands before me.  It’s time to focus on the here and now and forget about what happens next.  In 40 some years, it honestly hasn’t been very beneficial.

What about you?  Can you relate?  Do you rely on the numbers to live your life?  Let me know by leaving a comment below.

Wendy McCance

Wendy McCance is a Michigan based freelance writer and social media consultant. Wendy has gained attention as the founder of the popular blog Searching for the Happiness which can be viewed in 9 local papers online, including the Oakland Press. The combination of writing skills and social media knowledge is what makes Wendy such a powerhouse to work with. Stay tuned for opportunities to advertise, guest post and as always, have your questions answered.

To contact Wendy McCance about a writing or social media assignment, interview or speaking engagement, please email her at: [email protected]

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4 thoughts on “Living by the Numbers

  1. Hi Wendy. I can understand how you could do that over the years — live by the numbers. Guess most of us have done it from time-to-time. I think you’re right in your conclusion, though. It seems like it no longer serves you.

    None of us know the number of years we have left (I’m 68 and must be at least at the latter end of it). I’m learning not to plan too much — just live each day I’ve been given. I know that’s not an easy task nor what we’ve been taught. But, it’s so much better for your heart and soul. Sending hugs and love to you today, my friend. 🙂

  2. Hey Wendy, I too was a futurist (is that a word?). Always planning my birthday parties 6 months in advance, always thinking “this would be better then”. This year had been a strange one for me. I’ve been more in the moment and less analytical in my personal life. Shortly before my 48th birthday this summer I decided to get a tattoo. I did analyze that, but just to be sure I got something meaningful to me. I chose a dragonfly because they only live for 24 hours. And, during that time, they make the most of every minute. Kind of a Carpe Diem thing.
    I’ve spent my entire life doing what was expected of me and doing it for other people. This half of my life will be, although somewhat selfish, more about me. More about seizing opportunities and making choices that I would have hesitated to make in the past. Less about what other people may think about those choices. None of us knows how long we are here for. I don’t want any regrets.
    Here’s to you, my friend. Best of luck erasing those numbers.
    Much love,

    • Hi Myla, Your comment meant the world to me. I love the dragonfly tattoo and the meaning. It’s truly perfect! When I was going through a divorce, a very wise friend said to me that I needed to take care of myself first, not the kids, for if I didn’t make sure I was happy, I couldn’t be my best self for the kids. It’s true, and isn’t that the lesson you want to teach your kids anyway? Learn how to make yourself happy? It doesn’t mean you are selfish, it is that you if you find your own happiness you become stronger, more confident and, it spills out all around you. Everyone you come into contact with benefits. It’s the people who don’t make improvements, say no to an overload of requests and put other peoples happiness first that end up dragging everyone down. They are labelled toxic because of their endless sadness and complaints and it’s simply because they didn’t take care of themselves first. It made them unintentionally bitter about their situation. If you don’t go about making yourself happy, no one else is going to want to do that job for you. I’m so thrilled for you. Sounds like this will be an incredible year!!

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