I had no plans to write this post today but another night of disrupted sleep gave me the idea to do it. I may even make a series out of it, if you guys like it, as I have many years of experience living with anxiety. I was pretty much born with it, for as long as I can remember I have been a worrier. Anxious for my toys, my friends, anxious about school and boyfriends, and now well into adulthood anxious about my life, career, health, the planet, money, my family, travelling…
The list goes on and on and the focus of my anxiety varies depending on what is going on that day, yet it never seems to turn itself off. This is I think the biggest struggle for people suffering from anxiety – it never stops. For our close ones it is sometimes difficult to understand – how can something happening purely in one’s head, and sometime about the most mundane thing, can completely take over one’s life?
The fear of failing professionally
My anxiety has been through the roof recently and one big reason is my professional life. As I mention way too often, I transitioned from a very stable job at a big company to working for myself. I went into it very naively, to be honest, and this has triggered many sleepless nights, many nail bitings sessions and tears, many tears.
Am I unhappy with my decision? Not at all! I am actually very proud of having taken such a risk and not let life happen to me anymore. Plus I am in a place now where I have clients, I do earn a bit of money and I have some great opportunities coming my way! So why so many negative feelings when it should be an exciting time? Well, that is exactly what anxiety does to you, it makes you feel emotionally and physically unwell even when good things are happening.
The main source of my worries is the fear of failing. Freelancing is hard! You have to find clients, chase payments and there are no schedule or guarantees when you work for yourself. I wake up at night sometimes wondering if that was not all a big mistake. What if I fail? What if I earn nothing next month? What if I wasted my time trying to achieve the impossible?
Add to that the fact that society is telling me that I am at an age where 1) I should have figured out my career path and 2) I should concentrate on other priorities like let’s say starting a family. I am just not there yet, so not only do I fear to fail professionally but also at life entirely.
A sense of guilt
I put even more pressure on myself as I know I am EXTREMELY lucky to be able to afford such a risk. It didn’t happen overnight and I saved a lot of course, but Andrew has been a tremendous support when my funds are running low. He has an excellent job and can cover expenses for me when I can’t. How lucky am I? What else could I ask for? Why am I not more grateful for this situation? The answer: anxiety.
I see my husband, my parents and my friends waking up each morning and going to work. I have the luxury to not have to commute anywhere and to work in my pyjamas if I fancy – with that comes a great sense of guilt. I, therefore, cannot allow myself to fail. How bad would it look after talking with confidence about taking back the ownership of my career and my life 6 months ago?
Controlling anxiety is hard
Having suffered from anxiety for 30+ years I know how to identify it and I instantly know what the triggers are, what I still cannot do very well though is controlling it. I got better at it, but even though I know it is A reality purely in my head, not THE reality, there are still too many sleepless nights. Meditation helps, talking (or writing) about it does too. I also tried therapy and I am watching a lot of videos about it, but sometimes only a glass of wine will do.
This post is not aiming to give answers or any magic tips to better live with anxiety. Its sole purpose is for me to be more open about one of my main struggles in life, so you know me better, and for some of you to feel less lonely if you are overwhelmed with a sense of failure. You are not failing at anything, it is just your mind failing you and it is okay.