Anxiety is a funny thing because often it’s something you can hide from other people.
No one has to know you are filled with anxiety. If you can still force yourself to function, to push past the uncomfortable anxiety flooding your mind, then no one will even know you have a problem.
I realized this last week when my friend told me about her new job. It’s a high stress job that involves almost constant phone and e-mail conversations. She is constantly meeting new people and talking to people all day long. She told me she thought it would be the kind of job I would love.
I laughed and agreed with her even though I knew I would hate that kind of job.
Just hours early at work they finally installed a phone on my desk. I knew all along that answering the phone would be part of my responsibility, but I had been hoping it would never happen since I didn’t have a phone.
When the phone first rang I suddenly was filled with terror. Complete terror.
It’s amazing to think that answering the phone suddenly scared me so much, but it did. I freaked out internally and was flooded with relief when the designer who has been answering the phones answered out of habit. I know this week I will have to overcome the anxiety and force myself to answer the phone but it’s not something I am excited about. It’s not something I will love doing.
My friend was wrong. They think I would love a job with lots of people interaction. They think this because I make myself be social and friendly and outgoing when I need to – even if it causes me anxiety.
I’ve had people argue with my before over whether or not I’m shy. I say I’m shy then people meet me and they don’t understand why I said I’m shy. I say that I am shy because generally if I have the chance to fade away into the background I will. I won’t willingly take the spotlight in a crowd. I get anxious around groups of people and stop talking unless I force myself to talk which I usually don’t unless I have to do so. Basically if given the chance I wouldn’t meet new people or put myself in new social situations.
I just don’t give myself that chance and instead I force myself to do things that cause me anxiety and meet and talk to people. In my mind I’m shy, but I force myself to go past that. In social situations I’m often overwhelmed with anxiety, but I force myself to deal with it (mostly).
I live with my anxiety. I carry it with me everywhere I go. I feel it in almost every social interaction. Sometimes it’s almost overpowering but living with it has made me a master of working around it. Hardly anyone knows it’s there (unless they read this) except my very closest friends. I live with my anxiety even though I wish I didn’t.