When I thought about how I deal with anxiety at work I began by writing out a rant of notes listing all the areas in my professional life which require anxiety management. I wrote and I wrote and suddenly realised the document was 4 pages long and covered more individual topics than a 101 religions class. There was no way I could do justice to management of anxiety in a professional setting with just one bulbous blog post.
So rather than write a morbidly obese blog and hope to hell that someone somewhere bothered to get all the way to the end I have taken inspiration from some of my favourite blogs and gone for the series approach.
I could quite honestly write an encyclopaedia of anxiety management tools for when I have to be a professional in a professional setting doing professional things but really I feel like ripping all my clothes off, covering myself in camo paint and running through the trees until I have lots of leaves and bits of twig stuck in every crevice and hiding in a small bush shaking and crying and yelling for my mummy and/or some valium.
Believe me I’m not saying I always manage it, or even that I ever really convince people of my professional sanity. I frequently get those looks from the work grown-ups (managers etc) as to say “why did you say that?/make that odd noise?/clap/snort/chortle when no one else was?” I accept that I am an odd bunny and don’t really fit into the career librarian mould.
I am however working on it.
I know that to improve my career prospects and be offered better more influential roles I will need to take hold of my anxiety by his unfashionable oversized 1970’s collar and shake him until he gets all dizzy and sick and can’t bother me when I am in meetings/giving presentations/talking big kid talk to important people. This is my intention over the next few months; to find a way that I can be me while being an effective professional (i.e. not embarrassing myself and my institution on a daily basis) I don’t want to lose my own personality or to put up a wall between “work me” and “real me”. I can’t actor for shit and the idea of needing to play a part for 40+ hours a week makes me want to break out sobbing right here and now. I am incapable of being anything other than exactly who I am but, as I have been told recently by my lovely mental health professional, it is all about finding a way to communicate with the big kids without being false or phony.
Ergo; my first topic,
I have no issue with them on the whole. I’m not claustrophobic so getting in them and waiting isn’t a big deal.
The issue I have is other people in the lift.
I don’t like travelling in the lifts when I am not alone, even less with a range of people but the worst is just me and one other person….
It’s not that I dislike my colleagues, not at all. They are kind and thoughtful and very friendly. What I fear is the approximate 27 seconds we have to fill with meaningful conversation rather than stand in silence. I am endlessly grateful for the people who I don’t talk. Those who just say “Hi” and leave it at that. I am so afraid that I will say something terrible in those 27 seconds (and when put on the spot it is very likely. I have blurted out some classic nonsense in these and similar work stressful situations) and not have the opportunity to redeem myself. I have often thought “Oh dear! Now I need to write them an email now explaining what the hell I was going on about!”
My extensive fear is that I have offered myself up to them in a poor light and the thought of that gives me daily tummy aches. Relief comes when it is someone I see and talk to a million times a day for example someone in my own team. They are less afraid making because I know they have formed an idea of me already and I hope it is based on my work, prolific baking and offers to help them when busy rather than that time I made a tourettes-esk noise which was supposed to come out as laughter or when I swore in a general sentence in the earshot of an important visitor or big boss man.
I am guilty I have to admit of jumping in the lift and manically pushing the “doors closed” button even when I hear footsteps walking towards the elevator just to avoid riding with another person. Better they wait for 30 seconds for the next one than listen to my verbal diarrhoea and spend the next half an hour trying in vain to work out what the fuck I am on while making plans to never have to bump into me again lest I lose my shit and make a scene.