One of the most challenging things I deal with with my anxiety and depression is finding my self.
Both anxiety and depression are really good at making me question who I am. After any type of social interaction, I will replay the entire scenario through my mind, trying to figure out if I said anything offensive, stupid, or condescending. I’ll wonder what the other person (people) think of me. I’ll question if there were things I could have done or said differently.
This can go on for days. It doesn’t just apply to recent events, either. Things I did years ago are fair game to scrutiny. Things that haven’t happened yet will be challenged with “what ifs,” and I’ll wonder if I should even participate in whatever event I’m supposed to participate in.
These moments are so tough because they make me question my abilities and my worthiness. Impostor syndrome absolutely plays a role in these musings, and I question my ability to talk with authority on any subject. This spirals down into me feeling like I have nothing valuable to say, so I should just say nothing.
To complicate matters even further, I often put myself in positions where I’m required and expected to talk to other people. I do workshops and presentations based on my books. I teach a class at the community college about writing and research. I do online radio shows and conferences.
If you’re asking yourself why I put myself through that and then have to deal with the fallout, the answer is complicated.
I’m still human and a social creature. I enjoy being around others. I enjoy geeking out, talking to, and connecting with others through topics I’m passionate about. I enjoy sharing knowledge.
The degree to which I experience the fallout after these events will depend on various things. Some days, I can get through an entire interaction with barely a second thought. Other days, I’m obsessed with thinking about how things went down.
I often feel like if I had more confidence in myself and my abilities that this wouldn’t be as big of a deal as it is. I think that if I had a better sense of who I am, of my true self, I wouldn’t ruminate on social interactions as much.
I’m trying to work through this and figure out who I am. It’s not an easy path to take, but it’s an important one. I have no definitive answers yet, but I’m going to keep working. In time, maybe I’ll discover a way to feel better about myself and not worry so much about how others perceive me. Then again, maybe I won’t.
My hope and goal are that by the end of the journey, I’ll have a better understanding about who I am—even if that means I’m an anxious, depressed person who will always be worried about how the world views me.