Jet-lagged but positive

[Excuse the dodgy syntax/structure here, feeling quite sleepy]

Having come back from 10 days travelling in Japan, I feel… refreshed?

The trip was incredible, busy but exhilarating, and gave me a chance to disconnect from the anxiety triggers of ‘normal’ life. I think Japan in particular was a great place to visit, because there was a palpable sense of… contentment(?) amongst the people I saw and spoke with – even just in passing! That’s probably not the right word, but it feels fairly accurate.

I realise more fully now that I’ve been trying to compensate for insecurities by overloading myself with things which apparently ‘need’ doing, whether that’s the gym, assignments or personal tasks. I believe this is still a good way to live, but missing targets was a cause of panic. In fact, the one drawback during Japan was the intensity of my itinerary. Note to self, next time, don’t do so much in so little time.

Despite feeling like I’ve learned something from the experience, already, 12 hours after landing in the UK, I feel that suffocating need to be ‘perfect’ again, and the simultaneous, overwhelming conviction that it’s not possible. I’m going to persevere, though – we need to be happy with being interpreted, misconstrued, forgotten – we cannot control minds. Focus on what faces you – the rest are just brownie points, and too many make you sick.

Pesky nerves

Like almost everybody else, I have to tackle nerves from time to time. I don’t mean anxiety, as such – at least not my usual, ‘slow-burning’ experience of anxiety, the kind that surfaces when I’m not busy. Here, I’m talking about adrenaline – the intense energy which takes over when you’re put on the spot, say, during a meeting presentation.

I find I don’t panic in these situations, as I do when I convince myself I have no future, no friends, blah blah blah. In fact, at the time of speaking I feel good. Nevertheless, even a fairly small-scale presentation (around 20-25 people) normally leaves my armpits sweatier than a bog in summer. I know of some people who have it worse, who can’t get up in front of people at all, and I think I have my teaching experience to thank for my mental confidence when public speaking. But my body tells a different story.

This pesky perspiration wouldn’t be a problem if it weren’t for the fact that, after said presentations, conference talks, workshops, I feel exhausted. I just want to sleep, and, more worryingly, my temporary fatigue gives rise to negative emotions and thoughts: ‘Why were you so worked up?’ ‘What’s the matter with you?’ ‘Why can’t you be an adult about all this?’

The infuriating paradox is that, as said above, I am a good public speaker – I’m articulate, I make jokes, I smile in the right places. When teaching, my mentors commented on my apparent confidence, and the same has been said to me several times since leaving Teach First. So what’s going on?

The answer, from me, is that really I don’t know. But I suspect that my mind has gotten used to ‘hushing’ a response which my body is still very much influenced by. I’m not as ‘okay’ as I believe; rather, I’m used to being nervous, instead of eliminating the source of the nerves. So, in the interest of protecting my colleagues’ poor noses, I’m outlining three important (if a little over-used) tips on keeping the adrenaline within control – hopefully they can help some of you!

  1. People, especially colleagues, want information, not a performance (unless that’s your line of work). It’s silly to focus on yourself when you’re discussing the data analytics of your clients, or the feedback of a recent survey. Shift your mindset to prioritise the info – it’ll take some of the heat off your self-esteem!
  2. The majority of people are more capable than they think they are. Cliched, I know, but I choose to believe this. Stop looking for what’s going to go wrong, or at least give equal weight to what you’re doing well.
  3. Breathe. Obvious, I know, but there’s a reason why yoga instructors always seem so cool. Without proper respiration, you’re working at pretty shitty capacity. The trick is to balance this with the task at hand, without losing focus on either. I like to imagine myself through an x-ray lens, looking at my heart and making sure, visually, that it’s keeping steady. Weird, I know, but the point is, you do what you need to!

Getting back on the horse

I don’t know what’s been wrong with me, what is still probably wrong with me, and what has kept me from writing all this time. I do know, however, that I’m ready to think about it.

For longer than I can plot, I’ve felt a recurring fatigue, a sort of listlessness. It’s often not obvious – I don’t yawn every time I open my mouth, and I can still smile and laugh – but it’s there, always. I’m just quite good at hiding it.

I’ve felt that the world costs too much energy. The daily barrage of bomb scares and political faux pas, it’s just so exhausting not screaming every time they appear. Every step along the same old morning commute, every muffled cough on the train, the Big Issue salesman on the street corner, the e-mails, the conversations, the haunting sense of waste which lingers even when I fill my weekends to bursting with panic-fuelled social activities… it’s knackering.

I don’t have an answer to this, right now. But I think that’s okay. Looking back over this blog, I always seem eager to plug any holes in the boat, without really getting to the bottom of why they’re there. I’m just desperate not to sink, so think if I keep myself busy, they’ll fix themselves. But (as any psychology student can tritely tell you) anxiety isn’t a sustainable motivator. It needs to be something more, something happier – more comfortable, less frantic.

 

Personal Professional
Redraft one poem (for pub.) Redraft Literature Review (MA)
Finalise Japan plans

AND

Create savings chart

Review Nat. Archive Latin tutorials 1-5
Ongoing
Make any c. writing notes in diary.
Read criticism for each text I read.