The feeling is not satiating. I know I have tasks I must complete, but I’m drained of all ability to fully function. Dragging myself through my day is a must. I’m not positive what came first, the anxiety or the IC. Sheer panic engulfs me […]
A new employee at the office sitting right next to me has me questioning office etiquette.
What makes others most comfortable?
Why am I so uncomfortable?
How can I be myself in the midst of constantly meeting someone new in the workplace?
I know I’m a social creature stuck in a clerical job lacking real social interaction but I can’t help wondering what others view as acceptable office etiquette. Questions rattling my head - do you greet your co workers? Saying, Goodbye? Hello? How are you? Ask questions like: How are you doing? How was your lunch? In your office environment, do you make friends?
I spent most of my time in my 20s on a mission at my job - to get paid. I worked technical support for 8 years at one company in my 20s. I’d adapted the mentality that I was at my job to work, not make friends. Somewhere along the way I’d still managed to make friends even wearing a rock hard RBF, after 8 years, people start to stick. However changing jobs I became an outsider. The girls who’d known each other for years where a clique. I was new. I tried my old routine - here to make money, not friends. But after finding lifelong friends in several of my previous coworkers I felt empty at that lack of a consistent daily support system.
Change jobs and the mindset carried over. It took me months to open up. Why? What was I so scared of? Even a year and a half later I still obsess over whether or not I say hi. Ask them about their lives or if I continue to rock the stone cold bitch face, headphones in and loathe this experience. Am I missing out on potential friends and relationships because I’m waiting for someone else to break the ice? I feel like an extrovert stuck in an introverts obsessive anxiety.
If you see me at the office, don’t let my face be the reason you don’t talk to me (or anyone for that matter). I could be in pain, I could be in my own head, or I could be waiting for a reason to smile. Maybe all it takes is that hello from you to change my expression.
I was speaking with an old friend the other day and she said I was her hero for taking on so much in my life and still maintaining my cool. I simply shrugged and and just said thanks, but in my head I was thinking, “I am nobody’s hero”. Why would I say this to myself? It was not to bring myself down. It was simply me looking at my reality and the perceived reality seen by everyone else.
I recently became a Ph.D. student with a graduate assistant position to help pay for school. I workout 3-5 days a week. I have a full time job as a Gifted and Talented Coordinator. I am wife to an amazing man who supports me more than I realize. I am a mother to an almost three year old sassy little girl. I have another part time job at the local mall. I have two pups that keep me grounded. Then all the added responsibilities of just day to day life- cooking, cleaning, washing, drying, etc.
This life sounds chaotic right? It sounds like I should probably look at dropping a few things off my plate? Are you thinking: is this woman nuts? Well yes…I feel this way most days.
I suffer from anxiety. My anxiety comes out in very different ways depending on the situation. Social situations where there are a lot of people and it’s noisy- I lose my ability to hear well. It sounds like everyone is in a tunnel. When I am called out in front of a group of my peers at work without notice- I lose feeling in my hands and I start to sweat. When I am presenting in front of people I don’t know well- my voice shakes and noticeably. Plus I blackout, not pass out, I don’t remember anything I said or did during the presentation.
However, my anxiety also causes me to be very “type a” in all areas of my life. I make everything on the outside of my world look perfect because my inside world is full of chaos and darkness. It’s a lot of work but my anxiety tells me it has to be done this way. I have to make my life look perfect to the outside world, it’s not a choice. My house is clean- always. My daughter’s toys are put away and organized. My meals are prepped for the week. My daughter and I have our outfits picked out for the week. I have a set schedule for naps and bedtimes. This is just the tip of the iceberg of the things I make sure are in order to satisfy my anxiety.
Those of you that have anxiety like me you may understand the weight of that last statement- “satisfy my anxiety.” I cannot turn it off. Once my anxiety wants to focus and obsess over something I have to stay there until it’s done. For example: I woke up at two in the morning and stayed awake thinking about all the things that could go wrong with work, school, my daughter and all the things from my past that I messed up until my alarm told me I needed to get ready for work. Anxiety is not convenient. All I can do is find ways to persevere, when anxiety decides to show up.
So how do I cope? Well I have to exercise 3-5 days a week. I run, I lift weights, I do yoga. Yes it helps me stay fit and in shape, but I do it because if I don’t I would be paralyzed by my anxiety. I speak with a counselor twice a month. She helps me see how my anxiety is affecting me and my relationships. There is a stigma around seeing a counselor still, but I promise you if you haven’t tried it you need to. I write as much as I can. I have produced many a poem, story, or quick observation due to my anxiety. It is sometimes the most therapeutic tool I can use in the moment. I also crochet. The movement of the needle in each stitch is another moment of my anxiety disappearing.
While I may look like I am super woman, and there are days that I do feel like I conquered the world, I am nobody’s hero. In a way I am my own demons, my own arch nemesis as every hero has one. I have my own demons just like any hero has theirs.