I interrupt my regularly scheduled blogging, The Fundamentals of Personal Growth, for a much needed reflection.
When I have a really low day, I have a tendency to start generalizing my emotions to my entire life. I felt really anxious at work today, and on the drive home I was thinking about how I’m sick of always feeling like that, but then I remembered that just this morning, I’d been feeling really great. I had even thought to myself, “wow, I feel really great.”
Then, my mood started to shift downward during the last two or three hours of my shift, and I started to feel so anxious that I felt nauseous and wobbly. I couldn’t take my eye off the clock. I couldn’t stop thinking that someone was going to come scold me and tell me I was doing my job wrong. The anxiety hasn’t subsided much since I got home, and I keep wanting to burst into tears, which makes me feel incredibly embarrassed and ashamed, like I can’t handle my own emotions.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my past, which has been exacerbating my anxiety. I’ve been thinking about how my childhood shaped who I am. I’ve been wishing certain things were different when I was growing up. I’ve been feeling anger toward some of the messages about my body and my sexuality that I got from home, church, and school. I’ve been wishing that someone would have noticed how much I struggled with anxiety, back when I was a teenager. I wish someone would have seen how lonely and isolated I made myself to hide from a world that scared me so much.
I still feel like that little girl a lot more often than I’d like, and when my emotions get the better of me, I turn into her, and I fill with shame, which makes me want to hide. It doesn’t do me any good to hide, but when I think about talking to someone about these feelings, I worry that I’m being needy. I’d like to email my supervisor about something that came up at work today, but then I feel like processing my emotions is not her job, and I just want her to validate me and tell me everything is okay, and I don’t want to be the person who asks for that. I want to be strong and confident enough in myself that I believe I make the right choices and do the right things. If I sought validation every time I made a choice I wasn’t confident about, then I’d be reaching out to people asking for their approval all day long. I always feel unsure.
But, there I go again, generalizing. I don’t always feel unsure, but I often feel unsure. And I know that at work, this feeling of uncertainty won’t last, but in the meantime, I get upset with myself for not knowing everything, and I’m upset with myself for being upset about that because how could I possibly know everything already? How could I possibly know everything, ever? I’ve worked pretty hard on overcoming my perfectionist tendencies in a lot of areas of my life, but apparently, I haven’t overcome it with work. I hate not having the answers. I preface all my questions with “this is stupid,” or “I should know this already,” because I’m terrified of people thinking I’m dumb or incapable, but I also know, logically, that no one would ever think that about me. I’ve yet to have someone be annoyed when I ask them a question. I’ve never had someone laugh and say, “how don’t you know this already?” so why do I constantly feel as though they might? Because I have unrealistic expectations for myself.
I hold myself to some unattainable standard. I want to be perfect. I don’t want to make mistakes. I don’t want to do anything embarrassing. And mostly, this is because I don’t want anyone to notice me.
And yet, paradoxically, I want to be noticed so bad.
That little emotional part of myself that used to hide from the world is so sick of hiding. I want to be important. I want to be valued (by people other than the obvious – family and close friends). I want someone to look at me and think to themselves, “I’d like to be her friend.” I want someone to say hi to me first when I walk into work. I want someone to think, hey, Trisha would be good at this, I’ll go ask her. But how would anyone know what I’m good at if I walk through life with my head down? How can I expect anyone to know what I’m good at when I just started work last month? Why am I so damn impatient?
On the drive home, as I reflected on how my day went from great to anxious-filled, I thought about how I really, really, really hate the part of myself that is mean to myself. She has never done anything good for me. She treats me rotten for no good reason. She puts me through a lot of unnecessary pain. I wondered, should I try to love this part of myself? Should I invite her over for tea and ask her what she needs from me?
I don’t know. I don’t know if I’m ready to have compassion toward her.