On knowing when enough is enough.

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In the past few weeks I’ve developed, shall we say, a ‘backbone’ when it comes to standing up for myself in situations where I’ve felt my self-worth is being questioned, and damn it feels good. We’ve all encountered people who make us feel insignificant – whether that be by making us feel stupid, or not good enough, or easily replaceable. It’s a terrible feeling, thinking that everything you’ve worked for, all of your values and beliefs, and all of your personality traits are being questioned by someone else, someone who has made you feel inferior. But have they actually made you feel this way? 9 times out of 10, the reason we’re left feeling inferior as a reaction to somebody’s actions is because of pre-existing insecurities, which actually have nothing to do with this person at all.

Not to get too specific (because I don’t want to start World War 3), someone recently came into my personal space and it totally rattled me. The first few days were all rosy and sweet, with compliments being thrown and polite chit chat unfolding. And then all of a sudden, the cracks began to appear. Little things here and there were mentioned – nothing direct – and I started feeling completely unworthy of this person’s time. I started feeling like everything I said or did was being analysed, or that I was explaining myself terribly, and it came with the embarrassingly reactive behaviour of then trying to impress this person. Let me get one thing straight with you, it makes me sick to the stomach trying to impress people. I absolutely hate it. I find it awkward, totally unnatural and far from genuine. How people possess the ‘gift of the gab’ is beyond me, my attitude is you either like me or you don’t and I’m not going to work for it. So to find myself in a situation where I felt like I had to try and impress somebody was a total whack to my self-esteem, and I refuse to let that happen again.

Just this past weekend at work I had an irate guest, shouting at me and waving his hands (a full spectacle I assure you), which culminated in him telling me to shut up as I tried to calm him down and assist. Something in me clicked and I said to him (politely of course), that I was trying to help him and he needed to stop being so rude to me. BOOM. It was as if Beyoncé herself had arrived, the curtains had risen and I was alive. Assertiveness is something that never came easily to me – I was always the one who caved to people’s requests, said yes to more than I could handle and let people walk all over me. But not anymore, and let me tell you it felt GOOOOD to assert myself. It felt even better when said guest came down and apologised to me for being so rude, which I accepted graciously of course.

So I’m telling you this – do not let anyone ‘make’ you feel less than you are worth, and have the courage to stand up for yourself. The only person you need to wow is the person standing in your shoes, and the only person you should be analysing is yourself – not to beat yourself down, but to continue to learn and grow from experiences, and be the best version of yourself.

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Interviews got me feeling blue…

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Yesterday I had a job interview. To say I completely bombed it would be a complete understatement… It was horrific. I even got the rejection email a couple of hours afterwards confirming it, so what can I say? Yes, I stuffed it up. I wanted the earth to swallow me up whole or to at least melt into the wall. FACE-PALM.

Who on earth decided that a formal panel of 3 interviewers in a stifled, white room was the best method at figuring out whether I’m going to nail the job? And WHO on earth decided that letting the next interviewee sit outside of said room, where I could see them waiting, was a good idea!? Yes, I was quite utterly crapping myself! I haven’t had an interview in 2 years, and I’m meant to waltz in guns-a-blazing and wow the pants of these straight-laced people with a few CHOICE words and my sales pitch. No thanks! Why couldn’t we have bonded over a cheese platter and bubbles, letting the conversation flow in a more natural way?

Surely I’m not the only person who finds the idea of a formal interview process completely unnatural. They probably had me pegged as the most boring, shy, untalented candidate from the minute I sat down. And fair enough – I couldn’t let my personality shine through in such forced conditions. I hate that we have to conform to such a generic process and impress potential employees under such stressful conditions. So what if I take a while to warm up to people? I can still do the job, and do it well. All I wanted was a chance.

Okay so now that it’s over, how can I move forward and regain my shattered confidence? Well, in hindsight – having an interview is good experience and will definitely make me better prepared for the next one. If I’m perfectly honest with myself, something in me knew that I wasn’t quite right for this particular job anyway. I think that if I had really wanted it, I would have fought harder for it and cast the nerves aside. Self-sabotage perhaps? Who knows. Either way, I wish the successful candidate all the best in their role. I will move forward with the knowledge that yesterday wasn’t my day, and I’ll be damned sure to make it rain for my next interview. You got this girl!

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Photo credits – ourmoodydays

The hardest part.

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It’s weird how just a few moments in time can completely alter your course, rattle your world and take so long to recover from. For me this moment happened about 9 months ago. I was driving along a familiar stretch of road when I started losing all feeling in my hands, arms and face. Hyperventilating and not having a readily available area to pull over in, it took all my strength to focus on making it to the closest side street. By this point I had no idea what was happening to me, nothing seemed to be functioning and I was terrified. Little did I know that I was having a regular old panic attack, something that happens to hundreds of people every day. It wasn’t until I had calmed down that I realised what had happened, and then the tears started – embarrassed and scared would be an understatement.

While I understand this might be a regular occurrence in some people’s lives, or might not seem like that big of a deal – I can assure you it was traumatic enough for me. Having never experienced the severe symptoms of a panic attack, I was completely unprepared for what happened. It’s also hard for me to say what triggered it – I had never been scared of driving, but work was in an extremely stressful period and I think this was weighing heavily on me at the time. Needless to say those few minutes in time completely shattered my confidence. Simple tasks like driving to the next suburb become an ordeal, as every time I went past the spot where my attack had begun I recalled it in vivid detail. I avoided highways for 8 months, thinking that if I had a similar occurrence then I wouldn’t be able to pull over so easily.  I was so frustrated that I had lost my confidence in something I took for granted – simply getting from A to B had become a nightmare. When friends wanted to catch up, I would ask if we could meet in the city close to where I lived so that I could either walk or catch a train. These little sacrifices did nothing for my confidence, and I honestly couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.

It wasn’t until I had moved home to be closer to my family that I truly started the process of healing. In a supportive and loving environment, I was able to slowly get my confidence back. I had no choice but to drive every day, whether it was going between my Mum and Nana’s homes (20 minutes apart with some 80km/hour sections), or picking my sister up from school, I slowly became familiar with my car again through repetition and positivity. On a recent road trip to visit family, I volunteered to drive the first 4 hours on the highway. For the first hour I felt sick – I had avoided anything like this for so many months. When we made it I was so proud of my simple achievement, something that was so monumental in my own little world.

I can now honestly say that 9 months later, I have 95% of my confidence back and will happily get in my car without worry or thought of the panic attack that had ruled my life for so long. I took to daily meditation and breathing exercises to stay calm, while also giving me the tools to manage daily stressors. I also head to the beach most afternoons for a walk, an activity that gives me so much peace and happiness. Wandering along the shore with your toes in the water is very therapeutic, not to mention just listening to the ever flowing ocean currents. Not to sound like a complete loony but I find that floating also really helps! Whenever I get the chance to head to the pool or beach, I’ll float as many times as I can – there’s just something about closing your eyes and letting the waves gently hold you.

I have written this blog post in the hope that people understand what I’ve been going through, but also to be a voice for those too afraid to speak up. It’s really, really scary to go through mental health issues, and even scarier thinking you are alone. But at the end of the day we need to remember that EVERYONE is going through something, and talking about it with those you trust is an important part of the healing process.

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Photo credits – folkscenery & rusticbones