The Number One Rule of Life: Don’t Panic

by Annie Hendrick

____________________

I have started to notice that my earliest memories all seem to have a common thread: the voice of my father, telling me to remember the first rule of life; don’t panic.

Every step I took through my life, whether it was learning to ride a bike, taking a test in school, learning how to swim, performing a ballet, taking driving lessons, or boldly walking into a room to ask for the opportunity for a summer internship, the words “don’t panic” always remained in the back of my mind. When my father stood next to me before I faced each of these experiences and saw my face change into a look of worry or fear, he would say to me, “What’s the first rule?” until I confidently gave him the answer he was looking for.

Though the first rule helped me through all of the these somewhat easier obstacles in my life, it really proved to be one of the most important factors of my life the day my oldest sister got into the only serious car accident my family has seen.  A moment had never felt so long before in my life; everything moving in slow motion as I heard my father’s voice change, a tinge of panic touching the edges but not enough to have it take over, as he picked up the phone to hear an EMS worker on the other line. I felt as if my heart had stopped until I saw that my sister was okay later that night. The only thing I felt like doing was crying and panicking and doing the exact opposite of everything my dad had taught me.

But as I watched my father talk to the EMS on the other end of the phone in a stern tone and ask the most important and necessary questions, I was reminded of the first rule of life, and how well he was living through his own words. I knew inside my father wanted to let every emotion pour out of him and take over, but he did not let that happen and rather focused on the situation and what was most important in the moment. I tried to do the same, and pulled myself together enough to be able to remain calm until I saw that my sister was alright later that night.  Then I could finally let out a sigh of relief.

By teaching me the most important guideline by which to live my life, my father showed me that no matter what situation you are put in, you must step back and remain calm in order to be successful. This is something I have and will always follow throughout my life. I believe in the principles I’ve been raised by; I believe in the first rule of life.  Don’t panic.

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