My grandpa used to say that 99% of the things you worry about never happen… which just goes to show that all that worrying works.

Unfortunately, sometimes it feels like that’s my life motto.

My name is Alli, and I am a worrier.

A little bit of worry is healthy. It’s what keeps you from being totally reckless and potentially in a bad spot. After all, like Grandpa said, worrying about bad things prevents them from happening, right?

But worrying can also prevent good things from happening.

I’ve gradually come to realize that when you worry less and live more, amazing things start to happen. Once-in-a-lifetime opportunities become realities. Facing your fears ends up bringing you irreplaceable joy. Taking a risk pays off and might turn out to be one of the smartest things you’ve done.

Younger Alli, remember all the times you were worried that the upside-down rollercoaster was going to be too scary or too intense for you, but your sister made you go on it anyways? You ended up loving that ride, and you caught the adrenaline bug. Nowadays, your worry about rollercoasters is proportionate to the number of loops they contain, but you’re getting a lot braver.

Younger Alli, remember that time in elementary school when you unexpectedly made a really good friend because you stopped worrying what the popular kids thought of you? They made fun of her, but you saw her for who she truly is: a crazy fun, eccentric, beautiful soul.

Younger Alli, do you remember the time when you spent an entire summer having to re-study for the AP European History test because the entire school had to retake their exams? That caused you a lot of worry and stress, on top of all the worry and stress that’s a natural part of being a teenager. But it turned out okay in the end. You did even better the second time around.

Younger Alli, be reassured by the fact that while I’m telling you that you should worry less, I still struggle every day to take my own advice.

This year, I moved halfway across the country, away from family, away from my newborn nephew. Let me tell you, I worried a LOT about all the things that could go wrong with that. But everything fell into place perfectly. Even though I’m far away from my family, moving was a really good decision. (In fact, if I hadn’t made that decision, I wouldn’t have written this blog post.)

I recently started playing this really cool, really fun, really nerdy game called Dungeons & Dragons. I immediately fell in love with playing it, but when I started actually RUNNING the game, that came with a lot of worry. What if I’m not a good Dungeon Master? What if my players don’t like me? What if I have to break play to look something up? But as I get more experience with Dungeons & Dragons, I’m finding it a lot easier to not worry, and the games start getting even more fun.

Do some of the things I worry about merit worry? Certainly. But I see it over and over and over again: when I dial down the worry, good things happen.

Turns out Grandpa was right. (Well, maybe not the part where the worrying is what keeps bad things from happening, but that’s beside the point.) In most cases, my worries are just head trash holding me back.

Younger Alli—and present-day Alli—you really need to worry less and live more.