You are stronger than you think.

As you’ll find out when your strength is challenged.

Sometimes we grow in such small steps that we don’t even notice.

How often did we not hear it in childhood: “Oh, look how tall you’ve grown! When did that happen?” Similarly we do not always realise how much we have developed ourselves. And that, somewhere along the line, we have turned from a self-doubting adolescent into a confident adult.

Even as a small child I was a worrier. I would get stressed about everything, whether it was at playtime or school. The favourite heroine of all my class mates in kindergarten was Pippi Longstocking. If you are familiar with the Pippi characters: I was more like Annika. Always nervous to break the rules. Over-thinking what I was supposed to do. And my head full of ‘What if?’s.

By challenging myself to do the things that scared me the most I did achieve a lot. More than I had considered myself being capable of. (Thank you, Punk, Feminism and Riot grrrls.) But underneath my mind was still full of thoughts about everything that could go wrong. This made me insecure whether I got what it takes to be a small business owner. What if people didn’t like the things I made? What if I could not make it work? What if I could not handle the stress? Other entrepreneurs seemed so confident and to know exactly what they were doing. Was that for real? Or did they fake it till you make it?

It is no use to worry about things that you can not control.

So even in grown up life I was still at heart a proper little worrier. And then, in February this year, I got diagnosed with breast cancer. Now that’s something that can unleash a load of worrying thoughts. But it didn’t! When I heard the news there was one clear thought in my head: It is no use to worry about things that I can not control.

Hello, where did that come from? The woman who used to get stressed out about everything had vanished. I had not realised she had been replaced by a stronger confident woman. And this woman stood steadfast as a warrior, thinking: This illness is here. And worrying will not make it go away. I better spend my energy of getting as fit as possible for the treatments ahead.

Not only did this attitude keep me going for the past few months. But it had a positive effect on the rest of my life and work as well.

The ‘What if?’s are still popping up in my mind every now and then. But now I understand they serve a purpose: not to scare me off but to prepare me for surprises, be it good or bad. And to make sure I have a plan B. Or C. And that I can just ignore them if I want to. From now on the question will have a firm answer:

What if…? Well, then I will handle it!