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A foggy monday morning in London

It has been a while since I’ve been able to write, even though I have so much to say.  My emotional energy is completely depleted.  I feel like I’m walking around in a fog, and I can’t possibly see the way out.  I’m going to attempt to use an analogy to explain how I feel, but please forgive me if it’s not perfect.

In my mind, I’m trapped in a room with six sides, and on every side of the room are full length sheets of one way glass.  Most of the time, I’m not able to see out, but I am completely aware that there are people on the other side of the glass.  I know I should notify them that I know of their existence, but all I keep seeing are the images of myself, and it makes me turn away and look down because I can’t face my own reflection.  I feel so lonely, but it’s a trap of my own design.  It’s what one of my best friends calls “hermiting”.  I shut down and shut people out because I can’t even face myself, let alone anyone else.

And then there are the times that I desperately need to reach out.  There are those few bursts when I finally can’t take it, and I need to feel connection.  In those moments, I feel like the glass is the other way around.  I can see everyone interacting and having a good life, but they can’t see me through the glass.  I bang the glass and make as much noise as I can and want to say “hey, notice me!”  But why would they keep trying to interact with me when I clearly don’t know how to interact with anyone else?

I’ve probably taken that analogy a bit too far, but it’s the best my foggy brain can come up with.

I still have the notebook filled with ideas about things I want to talk about.  I’m too afraid to share all the thoughts I have, as I’ve mentioned before. I see the words reflected back at me and they aren’t perfect.  I feel that they’re rubbish and that no one wants to hear them.

So I’ve not written, and I’m suffering for it.

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I get inspired at the oddest times – mostly when I am nowhere near a computer or any sort of writing implement.  I come up with what I think are amazing ideas and can’t wait to get somewhere to jot them down.  But by the time I can actually sit down and write, the thoughts are gone and they’re replaced with an all too familiar feeling of dread.

I’ve never been a confident person.  It’s not to say that I don’t think that I’m good at things, but I’m constantly comparing myself to other people.  I’ve always found people that are better and smarter and more talented than myself.  The conversation in my head goes like this – “Hey, you’re really good at x, you should do that more!  But this person Y is a lot better at x than you, so why should you even try? You’ll never be as good as Y”.  And lately it’s gone even a step further “Furthermore, Y probably thinks that your work is crap and that you’re a horrible person for even attempting to do something like that.  Why bother?  You’ll just fail or quit like everything else”.  With that battle going on in my brain, the confident part of myself becomes smaller and smaller, shrivelling up into apathy.

The rational part of myself recognises this battle but doesn’t ever step in to call shenanigans.  I can see it going on and since the confidence is gone, I feel absolutely powerless to stop it.  I have to keep fighting every single day to accomplish anything.  This takes perfectionism and polarized thinking to an entirely different level where I’m afraid to enjoy my own life. I’ve blamed the depression for the fact that I can’t enjoy things I used to love.  And while the wonky chemicals in my brain probably have a lot to do with it, I think my confidence level is probably the bigger culprit.

Sometimes is never quite enough
If you’re flawless, then you’ll win my love

Be a good girl
You’ve gotta try a little harder
That simply wasn’t good enough
To make us proud
~ Alanis Morissette “Perfect”

If I trace the journey that my life has taken thus far, I’ll see many forks in the road where I made a choice to quit because I was scared.  I was scared of not being perfect, of not being good enough.  Fear has kept me from trying anything outside my comfort zone.  And I’m afraid to even pat myself on the back for the times when I did leap.  I trusted enough to fall in love.  I moved across the ocean to follow my heart.  I went for a job I didn’t think I’d ever get.  I am strong, but not confident in my own strength.

I used to love writing.  I did it all the time, scribbling on any spare piece of paper I could get my hands on.  When I got my first computer, I was banging away at the keyboard pouring my heart out to the empty pages.  Then I found Livejournal and started sharing.  Sharing feels like it was the worst thing that could have happened to my writing.  I started limiting what I said based on what I thought other people would want to hear.  I started over-editing and over-analyzing every word. I tried to brand myself as an interesting and funny person.  A good friend of mine (at the time) told me that my writing was crap, and I wasn’t an actual writer at all.  She said I was a fraud who would never succeed, certainly not enough to make a career out of it.  And as a result of that critique, my confidence weakened and I stopped.  I stopped sharing.  I stopped writing all together. I only wrote when I had to, when the words were so powerful they were ripping through me.  But I stopped sharing those moments too.

I’ve been reading a lot of blogs by strong and brave activists lately and they have awakened in me those same longings to share.  I’ve started keeping a notebook of things I want to blog about.  There are currently 3 or 4 pages of bullet points of things that are important to me that I feel like I need to share.  Topics that are important for me to explore for my own good, and maybe inspire someone else into seeing things in a different way.  I’ve been mad at myself for making excuses as to why I’m not actually WRITING about them.  Today’s topic was not on the list.  But if I can’t conquer this fear, none of these ideas will ever be anything more than bullet points in the spiral notebook in my handbag.

Unprofessional is crying in a bathroom stall in an office bathroom before it’s even 11 AM.  Unprofessional is someone who can’t take constructive criticism without folding into a stupid crying girl.  That’s me today.

I made a silly mistake, and it got escalated to one of my higher ups.  He emailed me directly advising of the mistake and how to fix it.  And he’s really a nice guy and wasn’t trying to be mean, and even said “hey, it’s a learning thing, and it’s been fixed now, so no worries”

But to me, it awoke in me this horrible fear.  Fear that I’m completely stupid and way over my head and out of my depth and have no idea what I’m doing.  I have been afraid of this for 9 months, that someone is going to find out that I’m a fraud and have no business being in this job.  I’m not confident in my abilities at all, because I have absolutely no background in this kind of thing and I’ve been making it up as I go along this whole time.  Mistakes like this, to me, are unforgivable.  No one died, it didn’t affect the company at all, but in my head, I feel like this is something they could fire me for.

Other times I feel like I’m really good at what I do, and that what I do is important.  But I changed job roles recently, or rather I got more duties handed to me without any training, and I’m still getting my legs under me when it comes to the job I was originally hired to do.  My work ethic seems to be detrimental to myself because I can’t give myself a damn break and forgive myself.

I don’t have time to really analyze where all of this is coming from, but I wanted to post this while I was still feeling it.  I’ve been censoring my posts for weeks, only writing at convenient times and not in the heat of the moment.  There’s something to be said for editing, but I started this blog to analyze the times that I felt irrational and to try to make some sense of them.

Somewhere in my brain, I know that I’m smart enough to handle this job.  I know that I’m not a fraud, and that people are allowed to make mistakes.  But if I know all that, why am I holding back tears as I try not to call myself a stupid pathetic loser?