Of all the courageous things I did today, what sticks out first and foremost is not my triumphs but my failures. I’m a work in progress, yes. Where I am today was not where I was a year ago or two years ago or even three years ago. How I feel about myself now might not be the same next year around this time.
I habitually fall back into the corner of pitying myself when my own willpower doesn’t seem to be enough to power me through a cycle of anxiety. In the end, I’m still the one making the choice to face it or avoid it. Then if I fail, I console myself with the thought of doing better next time (while also pondering why I bothered to try in the first place). The other option, which is to not try at all, is like a ticking time bomb. I avoid what makes me afraid, what feels too hard this time around and insist I can do it on another day.
A stupid thing happened today. I have an I.D. badge I regularly flash at the security guard whenever I pop in for one of my volunteer gardening shifts. On the back side of the badge, I wrote down a set of numbers which I use to log my shift hours on their computer. For the past weeks, the numbers got a little smudged but not so bad to the point they were ineligible. Like the lazy person I can be sometimes, I didn’t think to copy down the numbers elsewhere in case. When I pulled out my badge this morning, to my shock all the numbers were wiped clean; probably from the frequency of me fumbling through my bag. I tried to recall the numbers from memory but my repeated attempts at typing in various combinations got me temporarily suspended from logging in. I had quite the way to walk to my designated working area so I didn’t bother stopping by the volunteer center to ask one of the volunteer coordinators to give me my number login code again.
After my shift was over, I thought about heading over to the center but another thing stopped me. A security code was required to access that part of the building wing. In the past, one of the coordinators gave a brief demonstration on how to use it but I never punched in the code on my own before. Apparently, their code for 2 and 3 is the same button on the keypad. I also got super dizzy from walking in the blistering sun (after 3 hours of gardening) and decided that instead of going to the office, I would phone the coordinator some other time to ask her for help.
Switching to an alternate plan made me feel impatient, almost like I was mad at myself for delaying things and for not just doing what I needed to do. I gave up partially because of the heat exhaustion and hunger pangs (I hadn’t eaten lunch yet) but another part of me perceived I also threw the towel in because I didn’t want to deal with the awkwardness of approaching the coordinator for assistance and possibly being a total bother. There’s no evidence I would have been annoying, especially recalling that first day of volunteering where the coordinator specifically said if I ever had trouble with my I.D. card or anything that I should come to her. An unfounded fear can still feel like a real one though.
My head is pounding with a slight headache now. Perhaps from too much iced coffee earlier today? I am mentally kicking myself for not getting that blueberry muffin I wanted to eat with the caffeinated drink. I was actually still contemplating about it when the cashier prompted me for my order. I never like being unprepared when it’s my turn on the line even though there was no one waiting behind me. I could have said, “Oh, I haven’t decided yet.” Having eaten a bagel with cream cheese lunch earlier, I was of two minds about the muffin since I wasn’t hungry but my sweet tooth craving was acting up. Instead I asked for an iced coffee and nothing else. A teeny part of me felt anxious at the thought of saying a different order other than, “I’ll have a large vanilla iced coffee.” I almost always think they’re judging me for my drink/food choices but, really, customers like me fork over money for their business so I doubt they secretly critique people’s orders. D*mn, why is it only AFTER my anxiety has subsided that I clear out from the fog and start believing in my rationality?
My nerves are up thinking about tomorrow’s battles too. I hate it when I look ahead like this. I’m forever trying to catch the next thing to hit me. It will be July 4th. Independence Day. Unlike last year, I will be spending the day with two of my friends who happen to be visiting NYC and thankfully have a proper excuse for getting away from my brother’s social circle who will be coming over for a BBQ. My friends and I hung out for a couple of hours last Friday too so I don’t know why I’m jittery about seeing them.
Inwardly, I also feel a little anxious and guilty about spending a holiday away from my family. I know I don’t owe them anything and I do have a right to my own life. I have never been 100% comfortable with them. The times I grin and bear it, it’s partially for show but also because I truly do long for closeness with family or at least a semblance of getting along with each other.
But I cannot entirely blame them either. I feel I am part of the problem as well, due to my discomfort with myself. I’m frightened of being noticed by people. I’m afraid of the loaded questions I’ll be asked and have no choice but to answer as best I can without giving away just how much stuff I am bullsh*tting on the spot. Yes, partaking in those social obligations is difficult but even more so because I don’t like myself and I don’t have a clever answer for everything.
Featured Image by Ryan Rush.
3 thoughts on “Not Brave Today”
You are not alone, remember that. Some people may not understand and that too is okay. All that matters is that you are doing the best with what you have. And that’s okay. Pretty soon, they would add up and you will be on an entirely new level of accomplishment. That’s what happened to me.
That’s anxiety all right.
Be gentler with yourself.
Your are doing the best you can.
Time away is always a good thing, you can rejuvenate and come back.
Just don’t be too harsh on yourself, small wins, add up.
This is from someone who has been in your shoes and walked that path for years.
Chin up, you can do this.
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Thank you for the encouragement! It helps to know you understand what I am going through. Small wins are great. They are what help me to persist even when I feel I have lost the “big” bets.
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