Fact: nobody is consistently having an epic time – even those who have us convinced otherwise via their social media output. However, if you find that you rarely have an epic time and that you’re often unable to let go and just enjoy yourself, it could either signal that something is wrong or, more simply, that you are mildly uptight. And no, this article is not about calling out people who are uptight to poke fun at them; instead, it will explore how to identify the characteristics in yourself and learn to let go so that you can better enjoy yourself and have an easier time relinquishing control.
What exactly does it mean to be uptight?
We throw around terms like “uptight” and “control freak” on a regular basis as a means of mocking our perhaps more serious friends and loved ones. But being uptight can often run deeper than refusing to have a drink on a night out or not finding a dark joke very funny. Uptightness ties in with anxiety and indicates that a person has probably grown up creating a safe, harmonious environment for themselves with a rigid set of norms and principles that mustn’t be toyed with.
Naturally, being branded uptight is not nice when it comes from a friend or loved one. And a person who is uptight probably doesn’t think of themselves as such. They likely also don’t think of themselves as being overly serious. But if you worry that you may be taking yourself and life too seriously, here are six tell-tale signs:
You don’t adjust very well to changes in a plan
Does the idea of your friend pushing your social arrangement back by two hours make you wince? This indicates your proclivity for control and perhaps that you aren’t brilliantly flexible about last-minute changes. You may even try to make your friend feel bad for having the audacity to suggest a change of plan by telling them how you’ll need to move fourteen other arrangements around and catch twelve different trains to accommodate the new timings – graciousness isn’t always part of your agenda if you’re uptight!
You find it hard to lose yourself laughing
Has anyone ever told you that it’s hard to make you laugh? This could be a clue, either that you don’t have very funny pals or that you rarely lose it with laughter. Not that it is a bad quality to have a higher laughing threshold – it may indicate a more sophisticated sense of humour — but it is important to be able to find a reason to laugh in as many situations as possible. A real giggle with your belly can really put life into perspective.
Don’t get us wrong: we know that life can be a b*tch and that our circumstances can sometimes impede us from seeing the joy or humour in anything for a very long time. But if, as far as you know, your mental health is fine and your circumstances are too, yet you often see others laughing and wonder how on earth they can find such a situation funny, it probably means you take life a little too seriously.
You’re always on the defence
We all know someone whose tone of voice is invariably defensive and who is braced to receive whatever you say as some kind of insult. Suppose such a person were your housemate, and you thanked them for, say, wiping down the surfaces of your kitchen. A defensive housemate might retort: “What do you mean? I always clean the surfaces?!” whilst wearing that characteristically distrustful expression on their face, furrowed eyebrows and all.
Essentially, if your default setting is defensive, you are probably always pondering the subtext of what people say and waiting to counterattack. It is vital to adjust your mindset; otherwise, you will live your life with a fundamental wariness and distrust for others.
You don’t deal well with spontaneity
Similar to not adjusting well to changes, an uptight individual probably doesn’t have a spontaneous bone in their body. The last-minute nature of going to the pub or the seaside on a Sunday means fully letting go of your original ideas for the day. If this notion already has you recoiling, it is necessary and healthy to expose yourself to spontaneity: you’ll see that letting go of control, starting living a life of no excuses and doing something last-minute is okay, and nothing too terrible can come from it.
You over-analyse jokes
Jokes, as we know, are often very stupid– it is typically half the reason we laugh at them. If you pick apart jokes and always try to make sense of them, it detracts from their inherent daftness and ruins the moment. Try not to take jokes and quips too seriously; see them and enjoy them for what they are.
You find things very awkward
Not every moment of silence needs to be drowned out with chatter or background noise; quietness doesn’t always equal awkwardness, so try to embrace quiet moments. If you feel you are awkward and rigid, own it!
If you have read this article and you are now filled with dread that you might be thought of as an uptight person, it may be a good time to sit down with yourself and figure out how to, simply put, let go and not sweat the small stuff. As the Buddha wisely noted: “letting go is the key to happiness”.