Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Accentuate the good

I'm waiting for my backup to finish, so I'm procrastinating starting work on my resume.

Oh, this boring old topic again you think?

All I have to do is summarize the past 5 years of my life, lay it out in a fabulous and original way, and overall just make myself look great! How hard is that?

Thoughts of failure have already started, they are eating away at me right now and causing the wrenching and twisting in my stomach. Once that physical feeling comes it is so hard to suppress.

This morning I have seriously almost convinced myself that I don't really want this job and therefore that I don't need to work on my resume and set myself up for failure.

I have already gone through the visual picture in my mind of me getting the job and failing at it... (gee, I'm sounding like a broken record here)

Why is that the first thing that I have to start my day with? Dunno, but I have to stop the thoughts right, just stop it!

I was told long ago by a counsellor that the way you think creates a pattern or a template for the way you will think in the future. Maybe that seems obvious to you, but for me it was a realization that if I could stop thinking the negative way and start thinking the positive way, then it would then become easier to think positively in the future.

So stop with the thoughts of failure and the reasons that I am not right for this job. Think about the reasons that I am right for this job.

Accentuate the good. Accentuate the good. Accentuate the good...

Thursday, August 03, 2006

How to calm down

Just had a rush of anxiety over finally meeting a new client face to face. We had talked on the phone numerous times and were familiar, but we hadn't formally met.

I always loathe the face to face meetings. I get so nervous ahead of time and play out in my head how I am going to introduce myself, how I need to smile and seem enthusiastic.

Yet when I meet a client I find my mind going blank, trying to concentrate but getting distracted by all of the other stimulus and of course my thoughts. "How do they perceive me? Am I more or less attractive than they imagined? Oh shit, I totally just missed what they were saying and now I have that scowl on my face that probably a blank look in my eye. Shit, shit, shit. Pull it together! Concentrate!"

And on and on it goes.

It should have been a very casual meeting, really. Just an exchange of some photos and artwork that I need to use on their project. Yet, I went back to me desk and was overcome with anxiety. My heart was racing and there was a terrible clenching in my stomach.

I couldn't sit still in my chair and while I started to try and work again, I couldn't maintain my concentration. I kept fading out and fretting that I was getting all worked up about it.

When I get like it is often the physical symptoms that bother me the most. The butterflies in my stomach, the tightness in my chest, and I start to contort in my office chair instead of maintaing the proper comfortable position.

The Solution?
I realized I couldn't work like this and just stopped for about 15 mintues. I paid a visit to Cinthia's blog and Drew's blog to read their latest posts and put in my 2 cents.

I really enjoy reading and commenting on other peoples posts and I think it gave me the necessary temporary distraction that I needed in order to calm down. Sometimes I have to escape my mind in order overcome the anxiety.

The only thing I worry is that sometimes I am in a situation where I obviously cannot just run away and escape. I mean the idea is really to not have to escape, but to learn to cope with these situations. But sometimes it feels like no matter how many times I get into these situations, I still am not getting better at coping with them.

I wonder if there are any mental exercises that anyone does that can help with anxiety on the fly? How do we learn to prepare and to cope with our anxieties?

Let me know if you have any ideas.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Morning anxieties

I woke up this morning at 5 am. If I'm lucky I can usually get back to sleep but this time the worries started flooding in. Once that happens it is so hard to shut them off.

I may have a job interview this week for a job that I really want. It is part-time and will offer me a break from the isolation I feel in working at home all day everyday. The job would also mean a lot to me as it would be my first real shot at becoming a graphic designer.

Whenever people ask me what I do I always hesitate when I say graphic designer. I think to myself, "Yeah right you are, you quack. You don't have any ideas. Your portfolio sucks."

Pretty unfair of myself to think that since I've only been out of school for about a year. I haven't even really tried yet and I am already telling myself I've failed.

I am so afraid of starting work there and being totally slow and unproductive. I am afraid of group brainstorming sessions where I can't come up with any contributions. I am afraid that they will regret hiring me, and my friend who works there will be embarassed for recommending me.

I just realize that I finally did fall asleep but had a dream that I was in a group interview for the job and I made a total fool of myself. I had forgotten to bring my resume, my portfolio of work to show, all I had was a piece of paper with some scribbles on it.

How defeating! In real life I have so much more than that. I can honestly say that I do have some things in my portfolio that I am proud of. I have had amazing feedback from people who have seen my stuff, so I will concentrate on that as I prepare for my interview.

I will also think about how I can only try, even if I do fail... that is ok. At least I tried my best, right?

Monday, July 31, 2006

My diagnosis

What a relief to have finally visited a psychiatrist and received a diagnosis. I've struggled for many years wondering why I am the way I am, why I am a "social retard", why I blush so easily, why I can't think when I am on the spot and asked for my opinion, why I am so self conscious...

The list goes on and on. At least some of my questions have now been answered.

I've been recently diagnosed with Social Anxiety disorder, or Social Phobia. I haven't found a support group yet, or read any books on coping so I've been scouring blog land and the Web for information.

It is so comforting to read about Social Anxiety disorder on Wikipedia and suddenly feel like I can identify with a certain group now. That already makes my feelings of aloneness subside.

Also, I've found some wonderful blogs written by others in my situation. One very well written one is Social Anxiety Matters, written by Dave and I found my heart swelling as I read through the first 4 months of his blog and could totally relate to some of his experiences. In particular, I am self-employed and share his fear of failure / performance anxiety.

So he has inspired me to start a blog about my experiences. I feel that we need to share our successes as much as we share our perceived failures, worries and anxieties. That's why I've called my blog Find Strenth.

I know that there is strenght in all of us. Each of us does things that are totally mystifying and admirable in the eyes of others. We run successful businesses, we write beautiful poems, we belly dance (wow!), we manage to carry on with life despite our debilitating illness.

Each of us deserves acknowledgement for those things. We just need to hear it from others who can see it clearly.

This gives me hope.