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Originally from Texas, I am a reader, writer, pseudo-gardener, baker, record collecting student working on my Ph.D. in the Midwest.

Wednesday, February 16

The Anxiety Shit Storm Spiral

Part of the job as a TA is to do exam reviews with students. These things are impossible. Each student gets about 30 minutes to go over their exam. Some reviews take 3 minutes, some take the whole 30, leaving me breathless, sad, and irritated.

Yesterday, I had to sit down with my calendar and plan when I would give these reviews. I have two classes, totaling about 70 students. About 50 will want to do reviews. In case you're not counting, that's about 25 hours of reviews -- remember, I only get paid for 13 hours of work a week. By the time I finish reviews on the first exam, they're taking the second and it's never ending. In there, I also have to continue my classes, seeing clients, research, and sanity.

Yesterday, I started down the Anxiety Shit Storm Spiral. It sounds like this:
what the hell do you think you're doing here? really, you don't have time or talent for this. you really aren't a counselor, and you're definitely not a teacher. you can't even keep up with emails. and scheduling? you suck at it. seriously. you can't even remember to pay all your bills on time. don't forget you still owe money to the school. and speaking of money, where does it go? why can't you budget and make money work. you got a massive tax refund and now a good chunk of that is gone. why aren't you more responsible? why aren't you more compassionate? why aren't you a better person? why do you think your husband wants to be with you? you have way to many issues to be normal; who would love you? why do you even bother? 

and on and on and on. 

This is my head. This is where I live. I am so critical of myself it makes me sick. And that brings out its own anxiety. 

necklace by sherie on etsy made just for me.
I'm not necessarily in a better place today. I'm little bit more centered and little bit more trusting. Of myself. Of my relationships. Of my ability to do this. I'm reminding myself of kindness and peace and gratitude. 

I'm playing this in my head: 
I am real. I am true. I am ALIVE. and right now, I am taking a minute to remember that and to breathe.

If I could just get these damn gremlins out of my head...


Chet said...

Don't forget, you're loved.

blasianFMA said...

Nicole that's wild! Nothin' but the devil!

Allison B. said...

Nicole, I love your candor. I think that many of us (especially those of us in the program) experience versions of the "anxiety shit storm spiral," but are also experts on either a) emotional blunting, or b) acting. I'm no good at b, but I'm pretty good at a, yet I don't think being good at either of them is as good as the place where you're in, which is c) honesty with thyself, and with others. I'm glad that today you're being gentler with yourself-- you deserve that. But I'm also glad that you've allowed yourself to feel how you feel, and to write about it.
And, as Camie might say, impostor syndrom begone!! ;)
Here's a little something I like to read when I feel like you've been feeling:

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

~ Rumi ~

Camie said...

I don't have enough X; I have waaay too much Y; too many A's, but too few B's, C's, and E's. My H is too small, and my J is unusual. My L is flat-out freaky. And my Q? If people only knew...

Toxic waste.

Leftover messages from an earlier time that I don't care to revisit.

The fear?

What if people knew about my alphabet soup of imperfections, and didn't love me?

Well, what then?

They might leave, and I love them.

If I present a perfect alphabet, aligned and orderly just like the ones we learned in elementary school, people might stick around. People might even love me a little. But the irony is that I can truly never know if they love the orderly alphabet I presented, or the authentic yet imperfect letters that I allowed them to see. So the cycle starts again, ultimately reinforcing itself until I can't tell whether I am loved because of who I really am, or because of the conglomeration of practiced letters I have presented.

Toxic Waste.

And yes, Imposter Syndrome BEGONE!

Heather said...

Oh, how I wish I was in Nebraska right now so I could give you a big hug!!! Nicole, you are a beautiful person inside and out. You are smart, funny, and compassionate. If you ever doubt your abilities or your impact, reread what you wrote in your "Teenage Spirituality" post. And sweet child, if you ever doubt why your husband is with you, take a look in the mirror, a real, honest-to-goodness look, and you will see what he saw when he first fell in love, and what he sees each time he looks at you. :)

Nicole said...

I can't even express how amazing these comments have been today. Thank you for all your love and support and wonderfulness.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I was making something for Vicki one day, a card or sign or something. She kept cooing me "It's puuuurfect. It's purrrrfect." I knew it to be far from perfect...this little thing was crooked, that little thing was out of balance, jagged edge, too small, too big, etc. But we were running out of time, it was late, and the card/sign would serve it's purpose
So I agreed that it was okay ... "perfectly okay".

Since then, I've found myself saying that from time to time. Things don't have to be my version of perfect when they are "perfectly ok." Was just now thinking it's kind of like building a mansion in a little subdivision of camps and fish shacks. A waste of resources for the return on cost ... cost of time, worry, etc.

Embrace "perfectly okay". It'll give you some breathing room.- JSmith