Happy Sunday, everyone!
It’s very rainy here in Connecticut today, making it a perfect Sunday for cuddling up in warm blankets and ignoring all of the responsibilities. It’s also a great day to sit back and reflect on the past week. So today’s post is Story Time! Sit back and let me tell you about how I kicked my anxiety’s butt this week.
I did something that terrified me this week, and I ended up loving it. I spoke in front of multiple cameras, with a very real microphone attached to my shirt, and professional lights in my face. I almost bailed, thanks to my anxiety, but I didn’t. And when it was all over, I wasn’t just happy I did it, but I felt like a celebrity who had done a late night talk show.
How did I end up in a situation like this? Well, when I went to college I chose to study Diagnostic Imaging, and stayed an extra year to get my Master’s Degree. I was part of the first class to participate in the Master’s Program I was in, and it has since evolved and become more widely recognized across the University. It’s this recognition that led to me being interviewed this past Tuesday night, in the same student center that I used to attend spin classes in just 2 years ago.
I enjoy the spotlight, and subsequently the attention that comes from standing in it. I love making an entire group of people laugh, and I get so much joy from saying something that resonates with others. So when my old professor mentioned that the University was doing a “Live Event” on Facebook and Youtube, I was intrigued. When she told me they were going to do a segment on the Master’s program I had recently graduated from and asked if I would want to participate, I said yes without a second thought. Before my anxiety could register what I was signing up for.
A couple of days later I received an email with a list of questions to answer so they could prepare my part. Where was I from? What did I love about my program? How did the university prepare me for the real world? And I began to panic. When I had agreed to this it felt like no big deal. Just a couple of hours of my time on a Tuesday night after work. A chance to visit my old campus and see a past professor. That list of questions was the first indication that this was a real commitment.
I have no problem with committing myself to things, but my anxiety is always hyper aware of opportunities to fail. Realistically, there were no wrong answers to any of the questions I was being asked, but my anxiety didn’t see it that way. So I procrastinated. For days. I would open the email, read the words until my heart was pounding out of my chest, and then just close it again.
Eventually I got the upper hand on my anxiety and answered the questions in as little as 5 minutes, because they were not that difficult or complicated. Once I sent the email, just like every other time I have ever beaten my anxiety, I was proud. I felt relieved. That little victory was all the proof I needed that I could do this. Until I received the second email.
The woman in charge of this “Live Event” wanted to have a meeting with everyone who would be interviewed. The potential time of the meeting conflicted with my work schedule, and I knew even if I was able to attend I would have to call in. I know I’m not the only one who gets anxious about talking on the phone, so I’m sure most of my readers understand the absolute terror I felt.
Fast forward a few days and I was on the phone with multiple strangers while I sat in my bed, wearing only my pajamas. What had changed? I had communicated the conflict with my work schedule, and the leader and I had worked out a time that did work for me. It was during the scheduling of the meeting that I was able to remember that this woman was just a very kind human being, no different than I was. Rationalizing the situation kept my anxiety away, and I was back to believing I could do this.
When the night actually came I was nervous, but so was everyone else. I saw my old professor as I walked in, and the first thing she did was mention that she was nervous. We watched the group before us while we caught up and made the occasional joke to calm our nerves. Then they called us into the make-shift “green room,” which was just a study room they had taken over with wires and equipment and laptops. We ran through a practice round in front of the cameras, so that we could get used to walking on and off, adjust to the lighting and cameras, and answer some practice questions from the student host of the segment.
And just like that it was time for the real deal. The second I was asked a direct question my mind went blank. I stopped breathing, and thought I was going to have a panic attack. And then I was answering the question. I almost didn’t recognize my own voice at first. And after that first question, it was easy. I loved being asked questions from prospective students who were tuning in on Facebook and Youtube. I loved sharing my positive, yet still honest opinion on my 4 years of college to help them make a very important decision in their own lives.
Maybe 10 minutes after we sat down for the interview, it was over. I drove home confident, excited, and so happy that I did it. My boyfriend had watched, and showered me with compliments. By this point I couldn’t believe I had almost let my anxiety talk me out of this.
I am so determined to remember this situation the next time I want to do something that makes me anxious. Fighting mental illness, or just fear in general, can be so challenging. But it is SO WORTH IT! So if you’re reading this, do something that scares you. Reach outside of your comfort zone. Awesome opportunities are waiting for you!!!
How did you beat anxiety this week?? Comment below and share your stories with me!