Being Smart Doesn't Mean Not Doing Dumb Things
I understand that the holidays are stressful for everyone. But something about the combo of groups of people, festive pressure, travel, expected conversation, and disjointed sadness when all was done, just killed me as a kid. Still troubles me now... I mean, really, for me the "holiday season" might as well be called "panic attack season" but at least now I'm aware enough to work through the stress and still enjoy family and friends rather than completely mentally/emotionally shutting down.
Because I associated the holidays with tension (and tension especially at the hands of strangers) when I was a child, my anxiety became linked to crowds. To Thanksgiving and Christmas. To family figures of authority. I learned to hate the months of November and December. And once I was an adult, that translated into not wanting anything to do with those exact things. They were triggers. Triggers for panic, for memories I didn't want to recall, and triggers for a short temper and dumb, unjustified unacceptance of my own self.
That anxiety caused a self-fulfilling prophecy of discomfort: Anxiety made me avoid social situations, made me say dumb/awkward things when I did dare to partake in conversation, and made me think I was weird, which caused my self esteem struggle. And with lowered self esteem, I became more anxiety-ridden, which made me avoid social situations, and so on and so forth. You get the idea.
I'm smart. I'm creative. People tend to like me. And yet it didn't matter. Once that anxiety had a hold on my confidence and comfort I was trapped. I rejected myself.
And yet so understandable. And so common.
Self esteem is a weird and delicate thing. It's influenced by our upbringing, our mental health, our appearance, the media, our romantic relationships, our intelligence, success, wealth, and even sense of humor. But most of all, I believe it's based in awareness- seeing and accepting who you are and who the people around you are. And that's the part of self esteem building that I have been focusing on.
My mantras have been...
We all do dumb things, so laugh it off when it happens. Someone will always be better looking, more charismatic, richer, cooler, etc etc than me. That's ok. And no matter what I do, it will always be a necessity to sometimes face people - strangers - converse with them, and make connections... but eventually strangers become aquantences, and aquantences may very well turn into friends. Baby steps, right?
It's not that I've gotten over my anxiety and insecurities, it's simply that I've gotten tired of apologizing for them. I'm me. And that includes my problems and mental health struggles. And you know what? Accepting my weaknesses makes me stronger.
Join me next Saturday for: The Season of Sadness