Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Type A...and Type Anxious.

I was reading Scott Stossel's book, which I am loving. And he mentioned something about us Type A people. In truth, we do perpetuate the stigma of anxiety. I kind of feel horrible about that.

I thought about it and I'm kind of a textbook Type A. I am super driven and always pushing to excel. My career is really much more about who I am instead of the job I do. I strive. And I succeed. But I do it at a cost because my body is prone to taking on the stress that comes with that.

It's often people that are out in the world making it all look easy that send the message to everyone that they should be able to, too. Little does everyone else know that the people out there are often coping with something horrible deep down--but we are masters of disguise. Even at my worst, very few people knew about my condition. I knew how to get out of sticky situations. I knew how to give killer presentations, but the dread and horror leading up to them--not to mention the downtime needed to recover after--told a different story.

When my agent got the deal for my most recent book, I wasn't petrified about the six-month deadline or the amount of work that had to go into it--I was worried about being able to be strong for all the marketing. Book signings, appearances, etc. That was what terrified me. I knew that TODAY wasn't calling anytime soon, but I always thought, "What if they do? I can't do television!"

TODAY didn't call. I expected that. But it was really a metaphor for me over-thinking things. In my defense, I kind of had to--I didn't want to commit to a publisher if I couldn't handle the job and part of publishing a book is promoting it.

A few months after my book was published, I had the chance to do a local television segment and I was feeling strong. I was in a place where I could give myself permission to use it as practice. (And it wasn't live, so I could take breaks if I needed to!) I did fairly well minus the overuse of my hands. Once I started speaking again, I felt like the person I was in high school and college (I was very involved in leadership roles with Key Club and Circle K, traveling the country and speaking in public a lot!) This highly driven personality is great, but it's hard on my anxiety.

And now that I think about it, being that way and not being open about my struggles made feel like I was living a double life. I perpetuated this stigma of sorts. Type A's hide it so well.

Nowadays, I'm going for a mix. I want to be driven and successful, but I want to be honest about who I am and my condition. I don't want to limit myself, but I think anxious people do have to know when to push--and know when to back off. It doesn't make us weak. It helps us get stronger. I've built up so much strength in the past few years, but I know when I need to back off of work. When I lower my stress, I lower my anxiety.

Whether you're in something high-profile or not, have you ever felt that not being open about your condition makes you feel phony? I'm not saying anyone is phony if they don't tell everyone, "Hey, I have an anxiety disorder!" I'm just kind of wondering if I'm not alone in this.

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