Although I have yet to seek a legit diagnosis, I’m pretty sure that I have anxiety. For me, maneuvering social situations can be extremely stressful. I sweat. My heart beats fast. I feel winded and short of breath. Sometimes my hands or legs shake. While all of this is happening, I worry that people can sense my anxiety through these physical manifestations of stress.
Then there’s a barrage of thoughts about how I’m perceived. What am I saying? Am I saying the right words? Did I pronounce that word right? Am I explaining something clearly or do I sound confused, confusing, and dumb? How is the tone of my voice? Am I talking loud enough? What do I talk about next? How do I end the conversation? So many thoughts. All about myself. All at the same time.
As you can probably imagine, all of this makes it hard for me to be in the moment and be fully present in most social interactions. Some days are better than others and it’s not as bad with familiar people or in familiar situations. The more I struggle with my anxiety the more I find tricks and workarounds that help me manage it but some days I consider seeking medication (which I would only do after diagnosis and under the consultation of a doctor).
As a leader and future mental healthcare professional the most burdensome aspect of my anxiety is how it involves so much of my mental energy to be focused on myself. Many times I find this at odds with my ability to be empathetic. I believe one of my strengths and innate gifts is my ability to connect with people in a way that allows me to deeply understand who they are and their perspective but this is extremely difficult to do when I’m focused on all of my own flaws. There’s also a burden of guilt that comes with feeling that I am neglecting those that I’m leading and helping because I’m so focused on myself. Above all of this it’s really exhausting. Mentally. Not only does it prevent me from giving my attention to others but it physically drains me in a way that can make me feel too tired to be there for those who may need me.
In all that I do, be it leadership, ministry, or mental healthcare, self-care – maintaining my own health and happiness – is of the utmost importance. Which is why I’m addressing this problem first here on my blog, second with my therapist, and possibly third with medication. I really can’t afford to let my mental health issues affect my ability to fulfill my purpose and I want to give my very best to those who I lead and help, and most importantly, to myself.
If I wrote the way my mind works, it’d be a hot mess. Within the 5 minutes since I decided I felt like writing a blog post my mind has jumped between about 5 different loosely-related topics. I’m a decent writer but I know better than to try to make all of that come together in one coherent post. Instead, in the spirit of my former blog, I’m just going to do some fast and dirty bullet points of what’s on my mind currently.
Next week I’ll be heading to the national training for my summer job. This will be my second year going and last year was such a profound experience. In conjunction with all of the personal growth I’ve experienced this year and finally starting down the road to becoming “woke,” I know that this year will be even better.
In tandem with the positive expectations I also anticipate some not-so-positive aspects of this experience. 1) Being around a lot of people all day every day for a week and a half and the anxiety that will surely come with it. Last year I was so overwhelmed by all of the people from all over the country and instead of reaching out to them and getting to know them, I just observed from afar. I don’t want to do that this year. I want to be more outgoing. 2) Being the leader and go-to-gal for a large group of these people as the most experienced person on my team. I work well under pressure but hopefully things will go as smoothly as possible. 3) Last year I had a travel companion who I also was in most of my workshops with. She became sort of a crutch for me. A comfort zone. This year, I’ll be on my own. Well there are two men, my counterparts, who will be coming as well but I’m not sure how we’ll hit it off just yet. Men make me uncomfortable, especially strange ones. 4) Caffeine depravity. Last year, coffee was my savior in terms of making it through the long days but recently I found that coffee exacerbated my anxiety so this year I need to cut back or do without entirely. 5) It’s going to be extremely hot. Ughhhhh.
I’ve been in a bit of a rut this weekend but I feel myself coming out of it. The excitement about national training is keeping me together. As well as the long ass to do list that I need to get through before I leave.
I’m single. And lonely. Nothing new here.
I’ve fallen in love with a new podcast: Another Round. It’s hosted by two awesome Buzzfeed ladies, Heben Nigatu and Tracy Clayton. I was just thinking a couple weeks ago that I wanted to find more podcasts hosted by people of color talking about issues relevant to people of color and this podcast is everything I could’ve hoped for and more. They’re like funny, cool, big-city-living older cousins. I can’t get enough. I always say one episode is my favorite until I listen to the next.
I’m budgeting and will begin stock trading soon. How long until I can trade stocks for income?! Next week? Cool! (I wish)
I’m halfway through a book: Leadership and Self-Deception. I may do a review. But also, I may not. (Just being completely honest here.)
Ok, I’m running on fumes. I think it’s time to wrap it up. I don’t feel like proofreading, either…
For much too long I’ve been trying to convince myself that I am this person that I’m not. And not in a trying-to-be-someone-else-because-I’m-ashamed-of-who-I-am kind of way but more of a oh-this-isn’t-me-but-it’s-kind-of-ok-maybe-if-I-keep-this-charade-up-it’ll-feel-more-natural.
Well folks, I’m here to tell you that it does. not. work.