take one woman with low self esteem, but quite good hair
add one moronic illness
stir in some medication which causes hair to fall out
mix it all up and this is what you get...

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Being anxious about not being anxious 

Feedback from various write-ups of last weekend’s blogmeet suggests that I do not appear to be anxious at all. Hard to believe, they say, that the woman we met is the same woman who writes all that anxiety stuff.

Inevitably, I began to fret about this. Does it mean I’m really fake, that I wear a façade, that I’m a fraud?

I began to ponder on why I chose to characterise myself (and my blog) in this way.

When my other blog was snatched from me by unfortunate circumstances, I wasn’t entirely sure that a new blog would rise from the ashes. I wondered whether I could go without. I tried, but of course I couldn’t, so I started to wonder what I could call my new blog. I didn’t want to use anything which would allow it to be found again, so anything containing my nickname was out of the question.

I did actually create another blog, named in recognition of my attitude towards my so-called career. It’s probably still out there in the blogniverse, as is its sister gmail address, floating around like the satellite bits and general space junk which continue to orbit uselessly around the earth. (Yes, here it is).

I also remember opening up the old blog again, just for a couple of posts, before I made the decision that I needed a new place.

A book that I’d read recently was "Status Anxiety" by Alain de Botton. I knew from the title alone that this was a book which spoke to me, which captured how I felt about my existence. Being a blogger had exacerbated this feeling, by allowing me to come into contact with lives and lifestyles which seemed preferable to my own, by confronting me with people who could write better, who were classier, cleverer and wittier, who had followed their dreams, taken risks and achieved their potential, rather than shied away, taken the easy options and ended up in a state of stagnation, lurching from one pointless job to another.

Blogging, like nothing else before it, had amplified all my inadequacies and left me with a deep-seated and more-or-less constant anxiety that the way I was living my life was just not good enough. Status Anxiety seemed like a phrase which summed me up and "Anxious" seemed like an appropriate name for someone who suffered from anxiety. The new blog and accompanying persona was born.

I've always been a worrier. As a child, the loss of my father at an early age had left me with a feeling of precarity. Every time my mother went out, I would fret until she came back.

As an adult, I worry about all sorts of things. Just ask poor Big, who has to scrape me off the floor each time I get myself into a state about something, be it money, our house, my job (convinced that it's only a matter of time before I get sacked for spending too much time on the internet), our garden, my health (with both parents dead by the time I was 27, I get the feeling I don't have very good genes), his health, how others see me, how I see myself, my so-called career, my inertia in changing it. I fretted about going to that blogmeet for weeks. I suffer from anxiety attacks when I go to the doctor's, when I have an interview, if I have to confront someone or if I have to make a presentation in front of other people.

Are these normal worries? I cannot say. I can only tell you what goes through *my* mind on a regular basis. These thoughts are not severe enough to stop me from going out into the world, leading a relatively normal life, being sociable, laughing, chatting and engaging with other people.

But they are always there, mostly simmering in the background, bubbling over from time to time and being patiently wiped away, until next time.

Perhaps "Anxious" was not the right name to choose. It is not all of me, it does not define me. But it is certainly a part of who I am.

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