You might’ve gotten a hint that I have some issues (Why else would someone be afraid of trying?). It’s been a few years since the worst ones started, and I thought I’d gotten a lot better about dealing with them. Fate must’ve laughed pretty hard when I thought that. Now, I’m wondering if emotional issues ever die or if they just go into hiding until you run into another situation that brings them up.
My main issues are depression and anxiety, and both are firmly tied to a lack of self-confidence and self-worth (see “They Call Them the Depths of Despair for a Reason” for more details). That’s what caused the fear of trying – a few years ago, I believed, no, I knew, that I would fail. That there was no other option. That no matter how hard I worked or what I tried, there was no possible way to succeed. Add that to a need for people’s approval, and you have a recipe for a hideous mix of depression and anxiety.
Over the past few years, I’ve worked on rebuilding my confidence and trying to develop some self-worth. I thought I was doing pretty well. I thought I was getting stronger and confident enough to deal with, well, life. Notice the past tense. After this week, I have to face the fact that either I was wrong, or I still have a long way to go. Or both.
This week, I found myself facing change. New challenges. New responsibility. New possibilities. And are they bad things? No. They’re probably very, very good things. Things that I’ve wanted for a long time. Things that I still want. Things that would be wonderful and amazing if I could make them real. And even the idea of trying to make them happen gives me enough panic that I can’t sleep at night.
Because I’m still afraid of trying. Like all the things I’ve tried over the past few years didn’t count. I can try new things in very specific areas – new angles on things I’ve already tried. But new stuff? Trying things in other areas? Oh, no. No. That’s no good. Run away, my insides say. Get out now.
That’s when I realized that I’ve carefully formed a bubble around myself. I have layered myself in a comfort zone that gave me a sense of security and false confidence. Within those parameters, I can be confident. I can have worth. But outside of that? Outside of that, I’m not sure if anything has changed. Even thinking about trying something outside of those bounds makes my stomach knot and my chest feel shaky.
Somewhere, somehow, my subconscious has labeled the inside of that bubble safe, and the outside as dangerous. As risky. And risks are scary, especially if they’re risks that rely on me. And all these changes I’m facing rely on me. I have to make them succeed. No one else can. And because I don’t believe that I can, because it is easier to believe that I can’t, I find excuses not to try. I put it off and put it off because then I can tell myself that I’ll do it someday, that the timing’s wrong.
Hurrah for new insights to my problem, but how does this help? Knowing that I’m afraid to try these things doesn’t help me overcome the anxiety. I can throw logic and deep breathing at the anxiety all night – it still doesn’t lower enough for me to sleep. Running numbers, showing evidence that, yes, I can do these new things, that I can make them successful doesn’t lower the conviction that, no, no, I can’t.
All I can do is hope that if I force myself to do it, force myself to try, and I succeed – despite the panic and the anxiety and the doubts – then, maybe, maybe, the anxiety will fade. Maybe, the panic will stop. Maybe, the bubble will grow. And just maybe, the next time I find myself facing a change, I will be less afraid of trying.
Wish me luck.