“I’ve been a serial job-changer,” I said quite unthinkingly, the other day. The derision dripped off the words landing in thick pools, slowly spreading themselves out all over the floor, slowly taking up all the space between us.
I’ve always had a humourous edge to this form of self-deprecation. Who in this room has had as many jobs as the number of years she’s been working? Me, that’s who hahaha. Who amongst us can’t figure out what they want to do? Also me, hahaha. Who here can’t friggin’ hold down a job? ALSO ME. Hahahahaboohoo. But I’ve never realised how much self-loathing and shame I’ve packed away in this little story that plays out in so many different ways, every time a conversation about work/career/success/ambition comes up.
It came up all over again, this past month, rearing it’s head like a dark monster. An old friend, in the form of performance anxiety, a serious contempt for competition, a recurring reminder of my fear of failure and a blatant refusal to see how this has in fact kept me away from pushing beyond the comfortable limits of the known.
But there’s something different about this resurgence, this time around. It’s come with:
- a deep desire to actually look at the anxiety and fear of failure and see where its roots might lie. And to see that too and come to some place of agreement.
- the consequent (and slow to seep in) understanding of what they mean when they say the psyche really does push old demons out only when I am ready to face them
Because, while one part of me felt crippled by anxiety to perform and come out looking good, making me want to shrink away and leave, there was a not-so-small part of me that kept showing up, a loud voice in my head telling me there’s always a first time to push through the hardest part. That the fear of looking stupid is doing nothing but holding me back from a host of other possible outcomes. Outcomes that I will never know, unless I, well…push through. And it has had me wondering what might happen if maybe if I make it through this time. What if I don’t spectacularly fail? What if, goddamn, I even thrive and shine?
One year ago: What you wake up in the evening and the day is shot