My #SecretAnxiety – the Unmastered Frontier

I’m fairly open about my bipolar – the depression and hypo-mania, and I’m beginning to theorize that this level of comfort correlates to a level of mastery I believe I’ve gained over it in the past few years. I’m theorizing this because I’m experiencing something new and I find it embarrassing when I know I absolutely should not. 

I’ve recently been introduced to a whole new mental health issue that I have not yet experienced. I’m currently battling anxiety. Anxiety is a beast. It has been endlessly lashing out at me for the past few months, chasing me into corner after corner until I break. I meditate, I bike, I see my friends and have quality conversations with them, I try to think positively, I understand this is a physiological response and yet I can’t control it. And I know I shouldn’t expect myself to – but somehow I do. I manage my bipolar, why can’t I manage this anxiety? 

I feel ashamed. 

My anxiety comes out by way of compulsively and uncontrollably itchy skin on the upper outer part of my arms and the upper part of my legs. It’s usually triggered while getting ready for work and it’s gotten to the point that I’ve made myself bleed if I leave my legs uncovered, or give myself tiny bruises if I put on tights. I can’t not scratch. It’s the most driving itch I’ve ever felt in my life.

I sought the help of my psychiatrist because getting in as a new patient at a therapist is months out. I got anti-anxiety medication. I’m trying to control my thoughts better but it’s not easy. 

I feel embarrassed. 

I don’t want others to feel this way though. I know I’m not alone but it truly can feel so incredibly lonely when you go through things like this on your own. 

I suppose I’m writing to remind myself and others that it’s human to experience these trials. We’re not alone. We don’t have to be perfect. I don’t have to be perfect. I am not perfect. And it’s ok. 

It’s easier to pretend it’s ok sometimes.
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The Flaw Finder

Learning While Adventuring

When I said that my trip was “eye-opening” in my previous post, I was referring to a few experiences, this one in particular.  Let me explain.

Things that I know about myself:  I can be pushy/bossy/stubborn/whatever you want to call it.  I can also be overly helpful when mayyyyybe someone didn’t even want to be helped.  These are character flaws that I have been distantly aware of.

After the corporate training in Baltimore was done for the day (two Fridays ago now), I went out to a local pub, on the suggestion of a friend, and sat at the bar. My plan was to just sit there and eat some food, drink some beer, and maybe, just maybe meet some friendly locals.  Shortly after arriving I met the “friendly local” sitting next to me, a bartender from another place off for the night, who seemed to be friends with the bartenders of this bar.  The two working bartenders, the “friendly local” off-duty bartender, and myself kept jumping into each other’s conversations so I scooted  to the seat next to the friendly local eventually and we ended up talking about his current relationship.

This is a thing I do.  I talk to people about their intimate details because that’s real, I hate small talk.  I ask questions and I love listening.  I love getting to know a person for more than their superficial representations.  Maybe I should be a therapist after all. . .

At first my new friend was just showing me photos and talking about how he and his “lady friend” had plans that night that she backed out of. Me being curious about things that are none of my business (stranger’s relationships), I asked more about how they met and what they like to do in the city.  After some more talking it turns out that the “lady friend” is actually married.  WHAT?  But. . . (it gets better) she got married while he was dating her and he only found out through (getting better. . . .) Facebook.  UMMMM. . . . WHAT?

This sounds like insanity, right? And maybe you’re thinking “C’mon Jessie, he’s just trying to play on your sympathy to try to get with you.” but I assure you that is not what happened here.

He goes on explaining to me the timeline of how all of the insanity went down (which apparently was over 2 years) and 5 minutes in I stop him so I can pull out my travel journal, rip a clean page out, and document this whole mess.  For the next 30 minutes I took notes, in chronological order, on paper, so that he could see – written down – just how ridiculous this all sounded.  “Unsolicited Advice Jessie” was in go mode and he didn’t seem to mind, in fact he’d point out where I could write in other shitty things that happened.

After that unsolicited advice exercise he ended up taking me around to a few other local bars where he knew the people and I met new friends. I took a lyft back to my hotel and he walked home – NO SHENANIGANS.  (ok, but even if there was shenanigans that would be totally fine because I’m my own person and you over there can just calm down)  It was a really fun night out in a strange city thanks to what I’m writing up as, an alright guy.

 

Flaw-Finding

In my venture to figure out what I bring to a relationship and what I want from my next partnership, I’ve been trying to uncover potential flaws of mine that I’m not readily aware of.  My theory behind “uncovering” these quirks is so that I can have an idea of where trouble may arise in a relationship that I can help control on my own part.  And I’m not necessarily talking about FLAWS, because that’s a strong word, maybe just habits that could be taken the wrong way in a relationship?

The day after completing the “why am I with this person?” exercise with my new Baltimore friend (read: complete stranger who knows nothing about me and my plethora of quirks) I realized I had done it again.  I just up and gave my opinion then proceeded to point out how it was right, to an ABSOLUTE STRANGER!  I am aware that my “unsolicited advice” and in turn, my bossiness can come across as rude, domineering, being on a “high horse”,  or simply annoying.  I know, I fully understand.  Where I’m convinced I’m being helpful, others may find me annoyingly bothersome (or, if I find the right person, endearingly misguided??).

 

What to do with your Findings

I’m currently single and still attached to the idea that I have the perfect partner in crime out there (perfect FOR ME! not actually PERFECT) so while I’ve been on the path to figuring myself out, I’ve been looking at what I find from the perspective of how it would work in a potential partnership as well.

In previous relationships I have been woefully ignorant of my own shortcomings and I have dated rather nice people who were either too nice to call me out, tolerated my sh*t, or were stifled by my bossiness and thus never brought these flaws to my attention.  OR, I was just running around with my fingers stuffed in my ears pretending I was perfect despite the shouts from the crowd stating the opposite.  Who knows?

My point is that once these potentially irksome habits come to light in my daily living, I take note of them.  Having a bipolar brain has made it difficult to really take stock of who I am, what I have to offer, where I can improve, and where my best qualities are.  It’s like there’s a constant static around what I truly want to get at.  From the ages of 13 to 29 I lived most of my life in the reactionary mode.  I was constantly reacting to situations rather than actively creating my own situations (or learning to view life differently).  Being successfully medicated for the last 3+ years has given me the space between my thoughts and my actions to step back and observe more, react less.  It’s fantastic.  I’m taking this new ability and using it to better myself, for myself, my friends, and whatever new relationships lay ahead.

I’m finding my potential flaws, assessing them, and figuring out where they fit into my best version of myself – one experience at a time. 

Biggest Lessons in Traveling Solo

Lesson One – Solo is not for me

This may sound like a cop out but the biggest lesson I learned during my travels is that I prefer not to travel solo.

**Let me preface this by saying that I’ve fluctuated between the independent and codependent behaviors since I was a kid.  It changes, I’m not entirely sure why, so I’ll go from venturing out into new groups/hobbies/activities on my own for a few months, then the pendulum swings back the other way and I refuse to go anywhere or do anything unless I know a friend will be there to hang out with the whole time (or an SO if I’ve got one at the time).  Sometimes I’m fine on my own, other times I could use a security blanket.  I hate admitting that security blanket bit, but that’s the truth.**

While on my adventure, I found that I appreciated the sites, the food, and the people well enough, but there was this deeper sense of wanting to share it with someone. You know when you’re with your best friend, or your significant other, and you naturally make inside jokes out of everything? I could feel that missing while I was exploring.  I would find things that I thought were funny or whenever I learned something entirely new and it was oddly clear that I didn’t have someone to turn around and share that with.

This is where I contemplated if my codependent behaviors were getting the best of me but after much internal arguing, I decided no.  I went on this trip solo, I enjoyed it solo, and I would take advantage of any other opportunity like this that came up – even without a friend or SO with me.  Although my preferences are to travel WITH, I will certainly jump at the chance to adventure even WITHOUT.

Side note, that movie Love Actually completely ruined me in terms of romantic expectations because damn-it-all if I don’t get a little sad every time I arrive at an airport ungreeted.  Curse you, adorably flawed British romantic Christmas movie.

 

Lesson Two – Make it Happen

The biggest lesson I learned once I returned and had time to process everything, is that you should never wait for things to happen, you need to MAKE them happen.

Now that I’m back, unpacked, and getting over this sinus infection, I’ve had time to think about my solo adventure and what I can take from it to improve my existence. Before this, I had never gone anywhere, on an adventure, by myself so this was a challenge I set myself to. This trip to DC magically presented itself to me by way of convenient corporate training in nearby Baltimore so I took full advantage of the serendipitous circumstances. I had been to DC once before, by way of train, and only got to explore it for a day and a half. If you’re familiar with DC you know that a day and a half is not nearly enough time to see even a third of what the city has to offer. When I learned that I had to go to corporate training and it was a short train ride from DC, I started planning.

Originally I was going to stay at a friend’s place the whole time (an ex from college that I’ve kept in touch with) but closer to the date (after I had booked my flights) he said that his work asked him to attend some conference during the weekend. That was fine, I’d just fine an Airbnb for the weekend and crash at his place the rest of the days. NOPE! He ghosted just a few days prior to my flight out! Someone I’m friends with on facebook and text every once in a while, just completely ghosted. I had hope that he’d still touch base closer to my travel dates so I only got the Airbnb for the weekend.

I was screwed.  Long story short, I grabbed another Airbnb reservation and that ended up being what was essentially a bed in the basement of a frat house.  YEAH.  AWFUL.  And I was sick with this sinus infection.  It was miserable but I was determined to roll with the punches.

I did most of what I wanted to do on this trip, some things were left out because my sinuses got the best of me, or because the activities were meant for more people (I was supposed to be hanging out with my friend and his girlfriend for the weekend), but overall I think I accomplished what I set out to.  I dined out ALL BY MYSELF.  I went to amazing museums and sites ALL BY MYSELF.  I tried to figure out public transit, but honestly, it got to the point where it was worth the $6-$20 lyft fare to not spend 45 minutes getting somewhere that typically takes 15-20 via car.  But, I took lyfts ALL BY MYSELF.  I caught more pokemon ALL BY MYSELF (I downloaded the app when I got my new phone and it’s fun, I really like renaming all my new little pets).  I flew on planes ALL BY MYSELF (I’m not a fan of flying, though I used to be).  Man, this list kind of makes me sound like an 8 year old.

Had I said to myself “You know, Jessie, you really should wait to take a trip when you can do it with someone else.” I wouldn’t have seen all of the super cool stuff that I did.  I wouldn’t have had the conversations with strangers that I did.  I wouldn’t have leapt so far outside of my comfort zone and learned that I landed safely.

 

Lesson Three – You do You

No matter what, you do what suits you best.  I went into this adventure hoping to be more like an amazing friend of mine – she’s been traveling all across Germany, mostly on her own – and I realized that ultimately, I’m going to adventure only like myself.  I can’t hold myself to the standards of experienced travelers, or adventurers who seem to have better fortune than me (you know, they don’t end up in frat house basements), or those travelers who also happen to be professional photographers.  I can only be Jessie.  Jessie the adventuring introvert.

Be true to yourself and what you want out of your own adventure.  If you want to go to a crazy exotic place and read a book against the beautiful background, do it.  If you want to go to London and party, do it.  If you want to go on cruises and show up wherever they take you, do it.  You own that adventuring.

Adventuring for the Introvert – My First Solo Trip

Whew!  I made it!  I am back in the swamp lands of Florida, just in time for tropical storm/tropical depression/hurricane Hermine, whatever she’s been upgraded-downgraded to now.

I won’t go into details in this post, I’m still exhausted, but I wanted to let y’all know that I survived my very first solo vacation!!!  I was in Baltimore for corporate training for 2 days, which I then took advantage of by hopping on over to Washington, D.C. for 5 days to explore.  I’ll be writing more soon once I rest up some more – I’m recovering from a lovely sinus infection that I got whilst running around in foreign allergens for a week.

Anyway, a little teaser. . . it was fun, exhausting, eye-opening, intimidating, heart-warming, clarifying, educational, challenging, memorable, and both too long and too short at the same time.

Hooray!  I did it!  Bucket list item, CHECKED!

adventuring

 

Swearwords as motivation

If you’ve read my blog in the last couple of weeks you may recall this post here:  It’s a Process – try, fail, succeed

In that post I shared a lovely graphic that I made in the hopes of inspiring you to embrace failure.

Well, after asking a representative at Canva if I could use swearwords in a non-defamatory way with their site to make my graphics, I got just the answer I was looking for: yes.

I bring to you, my motivation through swearwords version of that graphic.  This one should not be displayed on cubical walls.  But definitely text it to your bestie if they’re having a hard time at work.  They’ll appreciate it.

Copy of When you repeat the cycle of is sitting on the other side of fear. (1)

Leadership 1 – because we’re not even in the double digits yet

Becoming a Leader

Ok, so, I had planned to write out a lengthy blog post about how to blossom into the role of LEADER. . .

However, I feel like that’s doing a disservice to you, my 30-something strong readership.  Perhaps you’re already a leader and you got this ish ON LOCK, or you’re a timid newby on the job who wants to know a few tips before diving in, or you may just be reading this because WordPress auto-populated my post in their feed at just the right time.

If ANY of those above apply to you – I am here to help you with your leadership dreams!

I have a super simple “Beginner’s Guide” to leadership that I debated sharing with y’all because, well, I kind of like being successful and enabling all of the internet people out there to ALSO be successful could severely limit the likelihood that MY successfulness  will outshine others’ successfulness.  Alas, I am better than that and have decided to share with the world my top three tips for becoming a leader.  Watch out, Forbes, this here is a tell-all article!

jessie's (1)

 

1.  Do stuff

Yes, it’s that simple.  Do more stuff.  Do all of the stuff.  Volunteer to take on new projects.  Learn new interests on the internet.  Try a new hobby.  Join a soccer club.  Adopt a puppy.  Join Toastmasters.  Travel.

2.  Be the boss of stuff

Remember that stuff you just did?  Now, be the BOSS of it.  Ask to head the project you just volunteered for.  Start a meetup in your area for your new interest.  Teach someone about your new hobby.  Run the next soccer club practice.  Be the boss of that puppy and potty train it.  Join one of the committees of your Toastmasters club.  Create a travel itinerary for you and your friends/SO on the next trip.

3.  Do more stuff

Now you’ve done stuff, taken on the leadership role for all of that stuff, so guess what?  It’s time to do EVEN MORE STUFF!  This doesn’t mean keep up the same ol’, it means expand your horizons even further.  Sure you ran a practice at soccer club, but how about being the coach next season?  And you were the head of that one project at work, but what about another project that’s a little different?  If you started a meetup for your new interest, perhaps create an actual club out of it.  Oh, be sure to KEEP being the boss of the puppy – that’s not a “stuff” you just move on from – that’s a life commitment.  Step up your committee game at Toastmasters and be the VP of something (I’m keen on PR, personally).  Start blogging about your travels so that people outside of your circle can learn from your wisdom.

 

So there you have it.  My super top secret guide to becoming a leader.  Now don’t go telling everyone or anything.

 

PS – I create my graphics with Canva.  Remember my last blog post where I mentioned I don’t make them from scratch?  Well, Kate from Canva emailed me (twice!) to ask that I include a link to their site so that you can sign up too.  So, here you go, Kate!

PPS – I get nothing in return for linking to it.  Lest you think I’m a sellout, I am merely one who gives in to pressure easily and hates disappointing people.

PPPS – Those are NOT good qualities for a leader!  Do as I say, not as I do!