I got back on Twitter. I needed to disconnect my Twitter from my personal life. So I’m at @UponHealthiness. I would love to meet you on social media. Leave me a comment with your Twitter! Maybe someday I’ll be brave enough to share who I really am. Until then, I’ll keep it real without using my name.
I am so weary, soul-weary, heart weary. Trying very hard to hold back the tears.
I presented the work I did this morning. I thought it looked good. I felt good about it. But it still missed the mark. By a wide margin. Like not just missing the mark but flying past the mark and still going.
The feedback is constructive criticism. It’s not being nasty or nitpicky. Let me make that very clear. The problem is that I’m just not grasping it. I hear what she says, I try to implement it, and it just isn’t working out.
This is the problem. She says I’m over thinking it again, but I swear I’m not. I’m really just trying to get something together at this point. Perhaps I’m underthinking it?
Part of the problem is that I can’t find a suitable photograph. And the last time I tried to take my own I was told that it was a nice effort but that we had plenty of stock to choose from. I disagree. Especially when we have certain benchmarks for each photo that we have to meet, and our stock doesn’t meet those benchmarks.
That’s one thing I have going for me. I know photographs. I know what makes a good picture, what makes a good composition, and it’s just not there. There are two but we’ve already used one of them, and the 2nd is almost a replica of the first.
I feel certain I would be doing better if I had the right imagery. But who’s to know? I can only use what we have.
My husband and I had a long talk after the meltdown talk. He agreed that if I go to work and do my best and try to do better with the feedback given and I’m not improving then it’s just not meant to be. We talked about what I do enjoy – my painting, my alcohol ink artwork, writing, photography – and how it’s okay that those things may never be what brings me a paycheck. We talked about how it’s okay to be a secretary again if I can find peace in the job and still do the things I love at home.
Right now I wish I could spend all my days just making art. Have my own studio and paint and play with colors and paint and beads all day long. That is where my heart is at peace. When I’m at work I struggle really hard to find any kind of balance and peace.
I actually Googled “what do you do when youre not good at anything?” I found a really compassionate response on Quora:Your question is a welcome one. Thanks. It may be difficult for you to believe, but you are valuable. Not because you can do something with particular acumen or because people respect your talents, but because you are uniquely valuable simply by being yourself.
Our world often over-values people who are the most talented and effect the most change, but that’s not how humanity actually ends up working. Many, many people’s lives don’t look so glamourous. In reality, all the talent and skills and abilities you need are wrapped up in you being you. Your imperfect self is the perfect way for you to use something that no one else has:
You have the opportunity to make a difference in the reality around you. No one has ever lived like you have: experienced your joys, your hurts, your personal growth, struggles. Nobody. Nobody is just like you. And the perspective you thus have is valuable. Maybe that will mean you do something that many deem “great,” but more likely — like most of the other billions of people who’ve lived thus far — you’ll do things that are great in their simplicity.
You may never be thanked or lauded, but the value of your actions—and yourself—is no less true, regardless of whether others—or yourself—believe it.
So keep trying your best to do things, but maybe don’t hold your identity so closely to the results of your actions or the responses of people around you.
And you’ll then be able to see the great things that you’re doing and will do naturally.
Another good answer I read was:
Guess what? I was not a natural at anything. I was a mediocre student. I wasn’t the greatest worker around when I lived in my home country. I struggle with math and have certain other problems that make me less intelligent than I may seem to others.
Furthermore, I’ve failed a million times in things I’ve tried to achieve. in the past, I’ve failed to find an agent for my books. I’ve failed to get a full-time job. I’ve failed in relationships (this was before I got married), failed in making friends, losing weight, becoming successful…you name it, I’ve failed at it.
Guess what again? I’ll probably fail a lot more. That’s called “life” and if everyone succeeded the first time around. we’d all be rich and famous and have someone else do our jobs for us. Life doesn’t work that way. It’s a struggle for many. For you, yes, as you wrote in your original post. For me, too, and the only way I’ve succeeded to hang with others–if not outdo them–is by being persistent.
If anything, being persistent is the key, not pestering people for a job or money, no, but by thinking and planning and figuring out the one thing you’re good at. Believe it or not, not many people find their talent early in life, if ever. It’s not easy, I know; I’ve been there before and I will be again. But if you search for something you’re good at, chances are, you’ll find it.
Never sell yourself short, for EVERY person has something to offer. It’s a mistake, although a natural one, to compare yourself to others. We all do it; that’s part of society.
However, it’s also a trap. It’s a trap that can make you think you’re less than good enough and you are not. Search for that which you can do well. Be positive in that search. And do NOT compare yoursellf to your peers. Your sense of self worth is not dependent on them. It’s dependent on you and you alone. So search for and find that special quality you have and then use it.
After reading this I realized that the question I’m really asking is, “when will I find stability?” Happiness and stability are what I want. I want a job I can go to and not worry constantly about. I want to be happy. No matter what I’m doing I want to be happy.
A cheery Saturday, me believing I could figure out my design problem led to a complete breakdown on Sunday when I tried to work on the same project and getting nowhere.
I’m not a natural designer. It’s fucking hard for me to come up with something new and still within the guidelines (especially within the guidelines) of our organizations branding.
I’m not a good designer. Before you say oh you are just keep at it, let me remind you that I had professors in school tell me the same thing. Everything takes me a long time to create and even then it’s not going to be good enough.
Right now I am miserable. I’m 43. I’m directionless and feeling like a miserable fucking failure. I’m giving up graphic design. I think I should have a long time ago. My grades in school weren’t that great. Bs with at least 3 Cs. I got As in art history but only because I write and research well.
I am just so fucking tired of struggling through everything I do. Everything takes enormous effort and then the results are mediocre. Nothing I do is ever on the good side of mediocre.
I’m fucking lonely because I have no friends who live in my town. I have one but she struggles with depression too and it’s really hard to get to together with her. My old co-workers only get together with me when I ask if they want to have lunch. They even come into my suite to meet with my boss and never come to my new office to say hi.
I’m not supposed to collaborate with anyone because I’ve been to design school and I know all the principles so why would I need to collaborate or talk though projects with others?
I hated my job before because my boss was a narcissistic fucktard. I hate my job now because I know I’m not good enough for it. Regardless my fucking life sucks and I feel like shit.
What am I supposed to do? What does someone do when they aren’t good at any one thing? Even my secretarial skills are outdated because I don’t have HR or financial skills. Traditional secretary jobs and reception jobs are going to student assistants and minimum wage. I can’t afford to take a pay cut that badly even if it is just a couple dollars less than I’m making now.
What does a mediocre person do in 2018? I have no fucking clue and it breaks my heart. I’ve been sitting here working for the last three hours in this project and I’m just not getting anywhere with it. I’ve been asking myself about life and death and I know I don’t want to die.
But I don’t want to live feeling so miserable all the fucking time. I tried really hard to be positive about my skills but at what point does being positive become delusional? At what point do we recognize that I’m not just any good?
What do I do with that? What do I do with my life? How do I earn money when none of my skills are good enough? What do I do? I have to have a job. I have to. I have a shit ton of bills and I have to have a job.
Series of photographs depicting the shame from dealing with mental illness. Photos are mine.
On Wednesday I was given three assignments, two of which were due today, Friday. One assignment was pretty easy and I knock it out so I could concentrate on the bigger project due Friday.
I’m going to open up a little bit more about my self to help with the story.
I’m a graphic designer. As you know this is a brand new career for me. I graduated with my BFA in graphic design Fall 2016. I’ve spent a decade plus being a secretary and other administrative positions. None of the jobs satisfied me because my soul belongs to art and making things and color and playing with all the things.
This job is not just a new job but a whole new career! I’ve said that before but maybe this really drives it home.
I’m very self-conscious about my art. I’m perfectly fine in my photography but anything else I’m not at all comfortable showing my work. I discovered this in art school when I realized that graphic design was not going to be easy (don’t get me started). I started as a photography major but switched after talking to communications people. They all said that I needed to go into graphic design if I wanted a job in the arts. I really struggled in school (excelled in art history, my professor wanted me to switch again because he liked my papers so much; maybe I should have listened to him).
Design doesn’t come to me as easily as setting up shots for my photographs. So it’s not second nature at all. I enjoy it but it is definitely work.
Back to the story. Wednesday I also saw my therapist and we talked about how I had reached the gates of my goal: I now have a job in the creative arts. Now I just have to trust myself and go through the gate.
So I worked on the project and let go of my worries. I really liked my final result (it was one of several versions, trust me).
Well, my supervisor saw it and gave me some feedback. Basically I have to start all over again. All her feedback was spot on. Why I couldn’t see it when I was working on it is beyond me. I didn’t overthink things and I went with my gut. I walked through the gate. It just wasn’t enough.
AND I didn’t die from not having a success.
HOORAY!!!! I’m alive!
I am bummed that the work I really liked didn’t make the cut but I did it. I worked hard on it.
This is exactly what Brené Brown meant when she said, “What would you do if you did fail?”
I don’t consider this a failure but it wasn’t a success. I get to turn it in on Monday. I found a better picture to use. I’m taking a break tonight and then back at it tomorrow.
I’m learning. I’m open to being taught. I want to be successful at this. I will have ups and downs in design. It’s now going to be all about what I do with both of them.
In my workplace, I have to turn in leave slips/leave request slips when I’m out of the office or planning to be out of the office. So I turned in two slips last week: one slip for the two days I was out because of my cold and another slip letting my boss know that I would be out of the office Wednesday – for a doctor’s appointment. Since I have a lot of doctor’s appointments I said, “This appointment happens every two weeks. It’s therapy.”
I slunk back to my desk kicking myself because I didn’t have to tell her that it was therapy I could have just said it was a recurring doctors appointment. As a supervisor myself I know that I would be suspicious if my employee came to me and said that they had a recurring doctor’s appointment at the end of the day every two weeks. Probably because I would be wondering what kind of doctors have appointments every two weeks.
The point is I really fretted over her reaction, which was not really a reaction at all. She does the non-reactive face very well. I felt a modicum of shame admitting that I go to therapy. I know that some of the shame comes from other work environments where it was information shared without my consent, information used against me (she’s not stable), and even discussed at length in front of me how my illnesses (they were guessing what I was diagnosed with) were proof that I was not a good enough Christian (anxiety and depression = not enough faith in God). So you can see why I might hesitate telling people at work that I go to therapy. Also why I keep this blog as anonymous as possible.
My new work setting has yet to prove to me that it is supportive of people with mental illness. Until I see proof of that I won’t be discussing my mental health with anyone here. As much as I want to erase the stigma and freely discuss mental health and my experiences I have learned from my past that I can be and have been punished for my honesty.
Punished and shamed for getting help so that I can continue being a healthy individual much less a “productive member of society”. I hate that term.
Do you understand shame? I didn’t. In another episode of Super Soul Conversations, I learned about shame from the discussion between Brene Brown and Oprah.
Brene said, “We all have it (shame). It’s the most human primitive emotion we have. The intensely painful feeling that we are unworthy of love and belonging. There are specific memories that we can recall that can bring up shame for us. But there are also very insidious quiet messages that we just marinate in over a lifetime.”
Let’s clarify shame and guilt. They are not the same thing. Guilt is I’m sorry, I made a mistake. Shame is I’m sorry, I’m a mistake.
Brene on what we say about ourselves when we are feeling shame: I’m an idiot. I’m so stupid, I’m a crappy mom, I’m ugly, I’m a horrible worker, I have no talent…Shame is highly correlated with addiction, depression, eating disorder, violence, blame, and aggression.”
I played softball in a community league when I was in junior high. I wasn’t a good player but I really liked participating. During one actual game, I was so excited to advance to 3rd base. I was on 2nd and the player at bat was walked by the pitcher. She walked to first base and so I literally walked, with some attitude, to 3rd base where I was declared out. Why? Because there was no one on 1st base forcing me to move to 3rd! I was beyond embarrassed. I was mortified. I’d let myself down and I’d let my team down. They had all been yelling at me to go back to 2nd base and, as usual, had my head in the clouds happy to be moving on. The mortification of this experience is still palpable.
This memory pops up when I’m feeling really down when I’m feeling like nothing I can do is ever good enough or ever going to be good enough. Do you want to know how old this memory is?
This event happened sometime between 1987 and 1989.
Why am I still hanging on to this? This 30-year-old memory? Shame.
Oprah: It’s the shame that damages your life. The actual act itself? People can get over that. It’s the shame that you carry with it.
Brene: Shame is lethal. It is deadly. The less you talk about shame the more you have. Shame needs secrecy, silence, and judgment to grow and shape the way we think about ourselves, other people, the choices we make, all of our lives. If we talk about it, if we douse shame with empathy, it can’t survive. Shame depends on us buying in that we are alone.
Let’s read that again: Shame depends on us buying in that we are alone. Oh my gosh, does this resonate with anyone else? Every time I drudge up a memory that causes a lot of shame I fall down that hole that is filled with the echoes of my worst thoughts: I am unworthy and I am alone.
I still struggle with Pre-Shame about my new career. I’m literally pre-shaming myself for possibly getting fired. Pre-shaming is right there with Dress Rehearsing Tragedy. I’m gearing up for the shame I’m going to feed myself when I get fired.
What a horrible thing to say to me every single day. I would never say this to a friend. I would never say, “Dude, you know you’re going to get fired so you better just prepare for that.” Never! So why am I so okay with saying it to myself?
Oprah asks Brene what we can do about all the shame and all the nasty self-talk.
Brene: I talk to myself like I would talk to…my kids. The first thing I try to do is say, “you made a mistake,you’re human, you’re okay, I love you, we’re going to get through this”. But the big piece is, I mean this is the hard one, you gotta reach out and tell the story. You got to speak your shame.
Oprah: Words carry powerful meaning that last.
Brene: If we label ourselves as messy, stupid, ugly those words get repeated over and over again in our heads…Instead, focus on behavior – that was a stupid thing to do, I wasn’t thinking instead of I’m an idiot and I’m stupid.
So some of the things I say when I start to shame myself are:
- Do you like what you’re doing? If yes, carry on. If no, go find something else.
- If you like what you’re doing just do the best that you can. If you feel good about the work that you’ve done does anything else matter?
- There will be good days and bad days. Both are excellent learning experiences that will help you grow! Embrace them both and keep moving forward!
I think a lot of us with anxiety and depression struggle with self-shame. I think a lot of our illness is based on self-shame. I have no evidence except my own experience to prove this theory. What do you think? What words of encouragement do you use to get you through the dark times? If that doesn’t work, what does?
I got a super bad cold and spent all of last weekend and most of Monday and Tuesday curled up in bed alternating between total congestion and the Niagara Falls if runny noses. Blogging was not something I could do. In fact, Tuesday morning I emailed myself when I meant to email my boss that I was missing work again.
Let’s get back to business at hand. I’m still listening to Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations. I’m still struggling with self confidence at work in this new career. I have to get out of my head and the podcasts help me so much.
I would never freely admit that I am a perfectionist. I would say that I am far from it! But that’s because I barely acknowledge that I don’t even start things because I’m afraid of failing.
Hello! I am not a perfectionist because I don’t even get started.
Now that I’m being really honest I will admit that I flip flop between stressing to make things just so and being okay with what I’ve done. But just so is the area that I really have to work on.
Here are some wise words on perfectionism from Brené Brown and Oprah.
Brené Brown: Perfectionism is not about striving for excellence or healthy striving; it’s a cognitive behavioral process, a way of thinking and feeling that says this, “If I look perfect, do it perfect, work perfect, and live perfect I can avoid or minimize shame, blame and judgement.”
Oprah: Perfectionism is the ultimate fear that the people who are walking around as perfectionists have to have everything so that they are ultimately afraid that the world is going to see them for who they really are and they won’t measure up.
Truer words have never been spoken. I am so afraid of people seeing that I’m actually not all that good in job that I pick my production part until I have “proven” what I think people are thinking!
This next statement fits in so well with perfectionism and anxiety: We are trying to dress rehearse tragedy so we can beat vulnerability to the punch.
Yep. I get anxious about my work so that when I am inevitably fired I will be prepared for it.
In my head the logic is sound but in reality it’s crap logic. Anxiety is all crap logic. None of it makes any sense and is more destructive than it is freeing even though I have somehow convinced myself that because I’m worrying now I will be free of the worry later.
This is what I want to rid myself of. If I could rid myself of anything it would most certainly be this idea of dress rehearsing tragedy. Brené later shares a story about a man who said he was always worrying. Then his wife died and he realized that nothing could have prepared him for the pain he was in; he also admitted that he wished he had lived more in the present enjoying time with her.
That right there is what I want too! I want to live here and now and not prepare for whatever failures or successes lie ahead. I believe that both are waiting for me. Why am I not giving myself the chance to enjoy the pleasantness of this moment?
Are you listening to any podcasts? What inspires you to keep moving when your anxiety and/or depression is trying to get you to stop?