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Long Story Shortt: I Have Plans That Day

by Michael Shortt

“Are you going?”

That’s been the big question from everyone for the last few months. It’s also been the easiest question in the world for me because the answer is always a firm “no.” Before you even finish asking the question or give me the date, it’s a no from me. I have plans that day.

That may seem rude to some people, yet it’s simply the way my anxiety works. Just Imagine for a moment that you remember every single awkward interaction you’ve ever had. Down to the last details. You replay in your mind every single interaction and what you could have done differently. Every awkward handshake, every misconstrued sentence.

I remember vividly receiving a love letter in the second grade from a girl who attached a dollar in an attempt to bribe me. Little did she know that to this day I cannot be bought … I kept the dollar though. It’s strangely something that affects me to this day. There’s no valid reason for it and I did what any kid in the situation would do, but it affects me. That’s one of a million examples.

I have never let it keep me from living life. I have had a successful career and interviews. I have found love and lost it. I’ve made friends and lost touch. All while replaying every failed moment in my head.

For example, one job interview went well. But as I was leaving he said, “we will reach out to you with a decision shortly,” so naturally I replied, “you too!”

At a certain point when you catalog every single moment you have lived in your head, they all begin to overwhelm every other thought in your mind. It’s like standing in the middle of an IMAX movie theatre and every door to every room is open at once and you can’t focus on just one voice. You just stand there and accept that you’ve lost control of your mind and your worse moments in life are staring you in the face shouting, “look at me, I am the captain now!”

When I was asked the question of “Are you going to the Fantasy Football Expo?” earlier this year, the time between the question and my response I replayed several of my worst moments in my head and lived what seems like years of agony in just seconds of my life. But to my surprise, I didn’t say no.

Rather than shoot it down immediately I actually got excited about the idea. I’ve been closer to people in the fantasy football community than I have been to others in years. If the answer wasn’t an immediate no, then part of me must have wanted to go and reluctantly I agreed I would at least consider it.

Of course, my mind wasn’t going to let me off the hook that easy. I was going to brainstorm a million reasons not to go between committing and arriving.  If my mind didn’t stop me then life would.

Before leaving for Canton, Ohio my car was wrecked, my daughter contracted scarlet fever, my identity was stolen and hundreds of dollars were drained from my bank account. I was given every excuse not to go. But for some reason I can’t explain, I made it.

It wasn’t without its awkward moments or overwhelming anxiety attacks. I was able to disappear from most social situations faster than Batman wielding a smoke bomb. I was also able to interact with human beings for longer than I have in years. I will replay awkward handshakes and responses in my mind for the rest of my life. Overall though, I have been able to replay a lot of good moments with genuine people I’ve been lucky to consider friends.

Regardless of my anxiety, I put myself out there. I was able to live life and meet new people. I partied like I was in my 20s again and made lasting memories. I was a social butterfly with enough liquor in my system. And the next time someone asks me the question, “are you going?”, it’s most likely a no from me. I have plans that day.

Before I get into my upcoming fight predictions, here’s a sidebar about the seriousness of anxiety.

So many people go through life feeling this and not being able to put a name to it. Or putting a name to it but not taking it serious enough to treat it as an actual condition. Anxiety and depression go hand in hand and it needs to be treated.

I would be a hypocrite to tell anyone to seek prescription medication because I decided it wasn’t what was best for me. Regardless, It is important to talk to someone before you’re standing in the middle of the IMAX theatre completely overwhelmed by the noise.

As I continue to fight my own fight with anxiety, I find comfort in the commodities I love. One of them being the UFC. We’re still over a month away from the next major UFC card, but the league is packed with smaller cards along the way.

UFC on ESPN 29: Jared Cannonier vs. Kelvin Gastelum
(Aug. 21, 10 p.m. ET)

Kelvin Gastelum has lost four of his last five fights and has not finished a fight since 2017. The one positive note is that all of his fights have been against the best fighters in the division. Gastelum will be fighting Jared Cannonier at UFC on ESPN 29.

Cannonier has constantly come up short against tougher competition in his career but overall, he is the more athletic and talented fighter going into this weekend. I am expecting Cannonier to finish this fight in the second round by TKO.

If you are betting on Monkey Knife Fight, they are asking more/less than 100.5 strikes from Cannonier. This is an easy under for me. Cannonier has never landed over 84 strikes in his career and typically does not land over 60 in a fight.

For Gastelum it is over/under 69.5 strikes. I believe he will be under that volume as he will be defending for the majority of the fight or trying to secure a takedown.

UFC Fight Night: Edson Barboza vs. Giga Chikadze
(Aug. 28, 10 p.m. ET)

Giga Chikadze is on a six-fight win streak at the moment but has never faced a fighter as dangerous as Edson Barboza. It is tough to find a fighter as talented and inconsistent as Barboza.

Both fighters are high-volume strikers with identical striking accuracy and defense. Often when you get two equally talented strikers the match can quickly become stagnant as both fighters are respectful of the other’s power. I expect Chikadze to win this fight by decision in a fairly low-volume striking match.

“Now the night is coming to an end … The sun will rise and we will try again.” – Twenty One Pilots

Thank you for allowing me to share this. @3rdandShortt

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