This is one of those posts. You know….one of those emotional purging, self-discovery posts that only people who really love you (or super nosey people that feed off the despair of others) wants to take the time to read. You have been warned.
Sometimes I am overwhelmed by anxiety to the point that I can’t do anything effectively. I mean, I can do things, but I can’t put my full potential or passion into it. It gets done, but half-assed. I hate to half-ass things. That’s why experiencing anxiety to any degree is a full-on suck-fest for me to the point that I get physically sick. Okay, okay…I suppose it isn’t exactly fun for anybody, but some people handle it better than others. For some, it drives them to perform above and beyond the norm. Why can’t I be one of those people?
Now, you might be thinking that I suffer from an anxiety disorder or something, but I’ve googled my symptoms (because that’s a fool-proof method of diagnosis, right?) and they don’t really match up with an anxiety disorder so much as just normal levels of anxiety inside a person that obviously can’t handle it in certain situations. Like work situations for instance. When it comes to work I must be perfect. That’s all there is to it. And if I’m not, I get physically ill replaying my screw-ups over and over again in my head as if I can somehow change them if I think about it enough. Half the time it isn’t even that I’ve screwed up necessarily. It’s just that my tastes and the tastes of some of my clients might differ in some areas so they may not care for something I’ve done with their session/photos and I feel like a failure as a result even though it’s hardly something to feel so strongly about. I want to please everyone all the time and I keep trying to convince myself that since I know that isn’t humanely possible I should stop trying, but still….I do. I keep trying for perfection because I’m wired that way. I was programmed to be a “yes person.”
In some aspects of my life I can handle saying no. I can handle being imperfect and I can handle the conflict that comes with simply being a human being whose likes, dislikes and tastes are unique. Like my family life for example. I can handle pretty much anything that comes along here at home with strength and assurance because I know the whole thing isn’t going to implode if I make a mistake or if someone disagrees with me. I just get up tomorrow and try again. I still have the love and respect of my family and I’m confident in my standing within our family. When my husband and I fight, that’s okay because it’s a safe space – I know he isn’t going to leave me or say disparaging things about me just because we had a disagreement. We work it out and we move on without all the nasty stuff. Plus, this is MY family and MY friends. If you don’t feel safe and confident in YOUR OWN space, there really isn’t anywhere in the world you’re going to feel good. In my comfort zone I am the best version of myself.
But when it comes to my work or social interactions with people I’m not that familiar with, I panic. At home, I have to play devil’s advocate all the time; I challenge my husband and kids to think about things from a different perspective and don’t always readily agree to whatever they say/want/ask for. But in other situations, it’s like a switch flips and I automatically turn into the BethBot. You know, the one who is so agreeable it’s mechanical. I can’t help it. In these situations, it’s really hard for me to find that filter in my head that tells me to take the time I need to think things all the way through before I agree. I don’t think, I don’t challenge – I just nod and comply like some foreign submissive version of myself that jumped right out of a 50 Shades novel and I’m later left with that “OH SH!T” feeling you get when you realize you actually can’t or don’t want to do the very thing you so enthusiastically agreed to.
Most people who know me personally will probably tell you that’s not who I am at all. I’m pretty much anti-everything that has to do with submission in any form. Those people generally see me as someone you can’t MAKE do anything she doesn’t want to do. I don’t take sh!t; I don’t like to give in. Compromise? Absolutely, but only when necessary. Being polite? Always. Okay, almost always. Hello, Manners Police over here. *waves* But giving in and doing something I’m really not cool with just to please a family member or close friend? I just generally don’t do it. I may not like telling them no, but I can do it and I have no problems with being honest with people I’m close to whether they like what I’m saying or not. You ask for my opinion; you get my opinion – good or bad.
Those who only know me professionally have not gotten that impression of me, ever. They only know the super-compliant BethBot version. I almost find it impossible to argue in these situations. I don’t know what it is really and it drives me insane. It’s like I completely lose myself when faced with purely professional circumstances and sometimes even people I’m just meeting for the first time. They tend to form an impression of me at the first meeting and I, for some unknown but clearly stupid reason, adhere to whatever I think that impression is (unconsciously, of course) until I can’t maintain that facade anymore and I explode with some emotional outburst worthy of its own bipolar award. In my head, I’m just being polite the way people are supposed to be when meeting someone new or interviewing for a position or just chatting with anyone in general. But apparently, in the other person’s head, I’m so sweet that it makes me an easy, automatic (& mostly inadvertent) target for being taken advantage of. It goes from me just being sweet and polite to me unconsciously trying to live up to the other person’s impression/expectation and only realizing what I was doing when I epically fail at it. And then consequently feeling an even bigger need to please them and prove myself.
My need to please, inability to say no when I need to and my OCD where manners are concerned is a recipe for stress & anxiety. Stress and anxiety are the main ingredients in me half-assing things and my half-assing things is a direct cause of more stress, anxiety and a big hearty helping of disappointment in myself as well as others’ disappointment in me. Can you see how this a vicious never-ending circle of despair for me?
So the only thing to do is to get everything right the first time around so that no one ever feels disappointed in me so that I never feel disappointed in myself effectively annihilating any anxiety or stress. Right…. Because that’s so easy. It would be easier if I could stop just screaming yes to everything before I’ve actually considered whether what I’m being asked to do is feasible or realistic or even if it’s something I WANT to do, but the BethBot takes over and I feel like I have no control over her.
So my new mission for the next however long it takes is to kill the BethBot.
DIE BETHBOT, DIE!!!
She is the source of a vast majority of my misery lately so something has to be done. I can’t stay in my comfort zone all the time and it gets really exhausting continuously trying to live up to the expectations of those that live outside my comfort zone. I would rather consistently be the version of me that my close friends and family get to see everyday; that’s the version of me that I like and that everyone else respects. She doesn’t let herself get walked all over nearly as much like my robot version. Any ideas on how to pull the plug on the BethBot? I’m all