Feel the fear and do it anyway.
It’s one of those quotes that you hear time and time again (especially as an anxious person) and after a while it just becomes words that you hear rather than a sentence with real meaning.
The words began to drift over my head, so used was I to feeling the fear and not doing it anyway because: fear.
I did something a bit crazy on Friday.
I went for a job interview.
The first job interview I’ve had in over a year.
The first job interview I’ve had since I had a minor blip in my mental health (read: yearlong battle with agoraphobia.)
I did it.
I actually did something that scared me shitless.
And I survived.
I’d love the job, it’s perfect for me in an environment that I feel safe and calm in. (A university bookshop. Books, bookish people, BLISS.) But if I don’t get the job then I won’t be sad for long because in having the interview I’ve reminded myself that I am strong, brave, independent, knowledgeable, polite and friendly; in fact for the first time in a long time I finally felt genuine, smile inducing, tummy dancing pride in myself. And that’s rare. But it’s beautiful.
There’s nothing like feeling proud of yourself and not needing to seek validation for that feeling from anyone but yourself. I walked out of the interview with the hugest grin on my face, an extra bounce in my step and a happy heart. Not only had I crushed my anxiety, I’d also managed to have a good interview. (well, good in my opinion anyway!) And I finally had ammunition to fire at the negative voices in my head; they couldn’t get a word in!
I felt the fear and I did it anyway.
Don’t get me wrong…I was shaking with fear as I was eating my breakfast on Friday morning. I kept thinking I needed a wee on the journey there. I had a dry mouth as I approached reception to inform them I had arrived. But then as soon as I was greeted by a bookseller to show me around, something happened inside of me and I just felt this almost serene calm wash over me. I could do this. I had the knowledge, the passion, the experience for the job. I could only do my very best; that’s all anyone can ever do. And even though I was still a little anxious (a normal, understandable level of nerves before an interview) I wasn’t overwhelmed by the feelings that often plague me. For once I felt in control of my anxiety.
And I think the main reason why so many anxious people can't feel the fear and do it anyway is because we have such low levels of self-confidence and self-esteem. We underestimate our ability to cope, we’re told by people around us that we need to stop letting the anxiety control our lives and we feel like we’re drowning in a sea of failure. And it’s hard, so hard, to get out of that pattern of thinking. To take a step outside of the comfort zone and think, ‘I’m going to try this.’
It’s never easy to put yourself into a position where there’s a possibility of failure.
But when you do, it can be so rewarding.
I’m by no means ‘cured’ but I am on the road to recovery. I am slowly widening my boundaries again, taking time to remind myself that I can do whatever I put my mind to, telling myself that I need to live my best life and not let stupid adrenaline and annoying thoughts get in the way.
And I’m doing it for me.
No one else.
Not my family or my friends.
If you suffer with anxiety and you feel like you can’t feel the fear and do it anyway, trust me, you can.
Build slowly up to it, take small steps, reward yourself every time you succeed. Keep moving forward as slowly as you need to. Remind yourself that YOU are in control. Think of the life you want to lead and keep striving for it. Remind yourself you’re brave and strong and amazing. Don’t let fear steal your life from you.
Feel the fear and do it anyway.