Jump on a plane they said. Fly down to Orlando they said. Meet up with a couple hundred of your closest work peers over a couple of days they said. Eeeek! Eeeek is right! This is the reality I was faced with this past week. I have been dreading this moment ever since it appeared on my work calendar. It all sounded like a recipe for disaster in my mind. Have you ever dreaded something so much and in the end it ends up not being so dreadful? Well this is a tale of exactly that.
I haven’t flown since the pandemic started. I have tried to avoid huge gatherings (mostly, besides a couple of concerts I’ve gone to and wrote about) since the pandemic began. I have changed so much through the pandemic and in a way I thought some of these changes might be a bad thing when faced with this upcoming reality.
I would have to traverse the airports by myself. I would have to traverse the crowds of peers by myself. Well, not entirely by myself as there was a couple of friends there who know my story and what I am dealing with and this thought did provide me with some comfort. But really, all of this quite frankly terrified me. And there was plenty of time to build it all up in my mind as I knew about this event for a few months.
The day of travel arrived this past Thursday morning. I was left with no choice but to go. I guess I always have a choice, but it wasn’t like I could justify quitting my job to avoid the inevitable. So I told myself I would try and break it all down to one step at a time. Pack, drive to the airport, do the airport, get on the plane, get off of the plane, retrieve my bag, get a taxi to the hotel, and then worry about the actual event once I got there.
One step at a time.
It wasn’t always easy to just look at the one step before me. Our minds, especially mine lately, are geared to always worrying about the next three steps after the step in front of me. I had to remind myself that those steps do not happen until I take the step which was in front of me first.
Easier said than done, but I kept repeating it to myself and I was able to make my way through everything I was dreading. It wasn’t easy, but I knew I had to do it. I had to dig deep and will myself through it. I’ve been through this event before and I had to tell myself I would make it through this event as well.
On top of it all, I had a sense of peace about me. I have no idea where it came from (actually I do), but it felt good. I do believe in the power of prayer and I had some warriors praying for me and I could feel it and I embraced it. We have to lean on others, especially God, when faced with a daunting task. How else do we get through it? This definitely goes under the “I get by with a little help from my friends” category.
This peace helped to propel me and also kept me thinking about taking one step at a time. I did conquer the airport. I did conquer the cab ride. I did conquer getting to the hotel and now it was time for the biggest part of this event. The part I was dreading the most.
I arrived to the hotel nervous, but I was surprised my level of nervousness wasn’t higher. I had worked it all up in my head that I would arrive a mess and maybe not be able to even make it to the conference as I really thought I might shut down. It was such a welcomed relief when I didn’t shut down. My nerves ended up giving me strength instead of being a hinderance.
This was a new feeling I haven’t felt in a long time.
Nerves can be great when they are not out of control. I feel a certain level of nerves and anxiety, “normal anxiety”, keeps us on our toes and can be used for good versus bad. I used to possess this, in the pre-pandemic days, but I had led myself to believe I had lost this ability and I only swung from one extreme to the next.
As I took these first steps and got a little closer to what I dreaded, I began to believe the old more confident me was still there. It hadn’t burned out completely as I was making myself believe the last few years or so.
I tried to embrace this thought. I wanted to believe this thought could help me take each step I needed to take.
I arrived at the hotel and checked in. I started seeing people I knew as other co-workers. The reality of this event was no longer just a thought it was exactly that…a reality. Here I was…Holy Crap!
But I wasn’t freaking out like I thought I would. I was really pretty calm! Thank you Lord!
I took my stuff to my room and dropped it off. I had to go down and check in and become officially “there”. So I did just this and the game was on!
You begin at start and you end at “making it through these couple of days”. There are levels to obtain and rewards to collect.
I really dreaded all of this as I have really been struggling with my self-esteem and my self-confidence. I go through having to convince myself that I am not bad at life including my job. It’s been hard lately. I’m not going to lie. I have really had a ton of self-doubt lately as it pertains to my job and my performance. So, this meeting really was the face of “Jason, you do not belong here” and this is a hard thought for someone like me to deal with.
Thankfully, I have reconnected with my mental healthcare team before leaving on this potentially nightmare trip. I am about 3-4 weeks into my medication dosage adjustment. I hit some bumps throughout the adjustment, but I was beginning to feel better. Feeling really pretty damn good actually.
It felt and feels great and it couldn’t have happened at a better time.
I feel like I slayed that meeting. I really do. I was my, at least in my head, my usual awkward, nervous, and weird self but people didn’t seem to want to escape from me. I convince myself that people just want to get away from me and it was so good to experience that all of this was part of my chemically imbalanced brain and associated mental illnesses and really nothing else. I really was OK and maybe some of what I believed I was simply wasn’t true.
It really was an awesome feeling. It was so welcomed as I have felt like I have been leaning towards the negative so much lately before this occurred.
I had my moments of wanting to run to my room, but those thoughts and feelings did not win. I couldn’t let them win. I felt more equipped to not let them win, so I…well…didn’t let them win.
I proved to myself that I AM OK. I proved to myself that I am going to BE OK. I proved to myself that nerves and “normal anxiety” can be used for good and I welcomed it. I believed that “I Got This”!
We have to keep working. We have to keep moving forward. We can dig deep within ourselves, and we can find there, that we do still possess the ability to conquer what lies in front of us.
I’m not there yet. It is hard for me to get too excited even when I am pumped as there is a big part of me that “waits for the rug to be pulled out from under me”. I still have a lot of wiring which needs to be re-wired, but this round did feel good.
I defeated a potentially dreadful experience and it proved to me to not be so dreadful. Maybe I can do this!
You Got This! I Got This! We Got This! Let’s keep walking this journey together!
Have a great day!
Feel free to jump over to my website www.rockingmentalhealth.com. My blog lives there along with some videos and a podcast I have been doing. I have some other creative forms of media there as well which I use to help spread my mission and goal to promote mental health awareness. You are not alone!