It’s been a low couple of weeks; low on energy, low on self-esteem, low on time. Work has been insane, intense, draining. My couple of core friendships seem to be over and I did the one thing I was hoping I would not do – shut down and stopped communicating.
That said, like the ever-brightening mornings, the ever-lengthening days, the flowers and leaves gradually pushing through, I have felt a determination to turn things around, and nothing has been able to stamp it out. It occurred to me that during the winter of social content, being surrounded by people all the time, I’ve been letting their presence and the largely positive discoveries about myself sweep me along, and I’ve been less vigilant about shoring up my positive mindset. So I simply need to start doing those things again.
One thing I’ve been really remiss about is recognising where I’ve been successful and seeing the progress I’ve made. So it feels like I’m just scraping by when actually I’ve come so far. Socially, I’m a world away from the limited world of a handful of trusted friends; from constant social anxiety; from a virtual inability (or virtual lack of belief in whatever ability I might have had) to cope with strangers. In the past fortnight I’ve designed, implemented, and delivered a company-wide training programme to over a hundred colleagues, all of whom are more senior than me. I got a lot of positive feedback on that. I went to a wedding and made conversation with almost everyone there, regardless of whether I knew them or not. I hung out with a close friend and her closest friend, someone who by virtue of his profession is inherently intimidating to me, and we all hung out like it was completely natural. I didn’t give up on the lost friends, but tried to reconnect on their terms.
None of these are things I would have felt comfortable doing this time last year, let alone in years gone by. These little improvements are so immeasurable, it’s not like passing an exam or losing weight – and it’s easy to forget how big the difference is. How, when I found other people inherently terrifying and myself inherently inferior, life was so closed.
Talking in front of people, and being able to meet people I don’t know and make a favourable impression, are both – in my mind – steps towards feeling comfortable performing. Hopefully I am closer on that score. I don’t know why I don’t feel better on the inside, when outwardly I am doing so much better – but I have learnt to push on regardless of how I feel, so it doesn’t hold me back.