Friday, July 30, 2010

Confidence is Key

As I mentioned last weekend, Monday was Day One of my "Fresh Start In Life".

I discovered (again) that it's much easier to give yourself a pep talk and describe exactly what you plan on doing than to get up and do it.

I got ready in the morning with butterflies tickling my insides. That's pretty normal (or so I hear) for anyone to feel on their first day of a new job. I dropped the kids off at daycare and made my way down the freeway to what is going to be my second home for a very long time. As I pulled into the campus and made my way around the building to the parking lot the nervousness starts to creep up from my belly and lodge in my throat.

I'm not going to lie. I sat in my car and seriously contemplated calling my old boss and begging her to give me my job back. Anyone who knows me (and my boss) knows that I'm way to proud for that, but I entertained the idea for a minute or so. After about 10 minutes of Facebooking (yes, it's a verb), e-mailing, and texting I told myself I would count to three and by the time I got to three I would be out of the truck walking into the building. I even mentally separated the steps:

One. Phone in purse. Lip gloss checked. Turn off ignition.

Two. Seat belt off. Door Open. Feet on ground.

Three. Lock doors. Walk. Keep walking. Breathe.

As I walked into the building a feeling of semi-familiarity came over me. I'd done three interviews here and, when the security guard sent me to the same waiting area I had been sent to before I couldn't help but think, "I got this." And then I opened the door.

Previously, I had been the only one in the a fore-mentioned waiting area. When I walked in there were 3 men waiting in there and another woman was close on my heels. As I checked in, more and more people came in. The room was filling up fast. (I would come to find out, there were over 25 people in there.) As I sat there I became more and more nervous.

Smile, Amanda. Smile, damn it.

People (Roy) tell me that I have a tendency to give people dirty looks without realizing it. Usually it's because I'm lost in thought and, apparently, my "thinking face" is also my "pissed off" face and my "don't talk to me because I'll chew your face off" face. Nice.

I also have the idea that I'm dull and irritating burned into my brain and I can't shake it. When I meet someone I immediately start thinking of all the things I said or did that would make her not like me and so I convince myself that she doesn't want to talk to me anymore. Because of that I don't make the effort to talk to her, either, so she probably feels snubbed. If it weren't for my silly over thinking things would probably turn out great more often than not.

Anyway, as I sat there willing myself to smile at nothing in particular (because there was no way on earth I was making eye contact with strangers) I stopped worrying about myself long enough to realize that everyone else seemed just as nervous as me. That made me feel so much better.

I took a deep breath, counted to three and introduced myself to the girl next to me. Hmmm. That wasn't hard at all. Another girl took the seat in between us and I introduced myself to her, too. Go, me! Two out of two!

Let me back track for a moment and explain something about myself to you: I judge people. I know, it's terrible. For example, women who let their kids run around the store screaming? Bad moms. Pacifiers at 3? Bad mom. Pretty women who dress nice? Snotty. Women with designer handbags? Rich snobs. Logically, I know that those are terrible generalizations that are almost never true. But I can't help it.

However, I promised myself I wasn't going to judge anyone at this new job. Everyone got the benefit of the doubt from Amanda. It's something I'm trying to do more of in all aspects of my life, but let's be realistic. I need to start small. So, for now, work it is.

You may be wondering why I told you that. Well, remember when I sat down in the waiting area? Two girls walked in and I immediately pegged them as being stuck up, rude and not worth my time. I caught myself and pushed that thought to the back of my mind. I stayed true to my plan of not judging anyone.

They both turned out to be pretty awesome and not stuck up at all.

Day one was awkward because no one wanted to really open up to a room full of strangers but, after day five, we all get along pretty well.

I'm pretty proud of myself. Here's to next week!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Fresh Start

I have an irrational fear of meeting new people. And I've had it for as long as I can remember.

I remember being in Kindergarten and my mom asking me if I wanted her to drive me to school on the first day. I remember telling her no and marching my happy little 5 year old self out the front door and down the driveway. I walked to the end of the street and rounded the corner. There, at the bus stop, were about 15 kids. Big kids. Sixth graders. I stopped dead in my tracks and stood there for what felt like a 10 second eternity and then sprinted back to the house and told my mom that I changed my mind: I wanted an escort.

Seventh grade was similar. I had moved across country that summer and was starting a new school in a new state and had yet to make any friends. My mom helped me find my homeroom before school started and I made her stand there with me until class started because I was afraid of the other kids. I'm not sure what I thought they were going to do, but I was shaking.

I never went to parties in high school because they were outside my comfort zone. I never went to any dances (except Junior prom) for the same reason.

Even after high school, parties made me feel self conscious and awkward. The idea of going to college and living in a dorm terrified me, so I didn't go.

I was afraid to go to a bar when I turned 21 because I had (obviously) never been to one and I had no idea how to act there.

Of course, in all of the above situations, once I crossed the starting line I realized that things weren't nearly as bad as I had made them out to be in my head and everything always proceeded smoothly from that point on.

It isn't normal. Some people feel awkward in new situations, but this paralyzing fear isn't experienced by many people. Head shrinkers call it "social anxiety." Call it whatever you want, it makes it very difficult to function at times, especially when you're stubborn enough to refuse medication because the medication makes you feel numb.

Things have gotten a lot better over the last year. Roy has helped me to become comfortable in my own skin and helped me realize that people like me. I'm a genuinely nice person and I'm smart. (Hear that? It's my horn tooting itself.) I know that I don't give myself credit where credit is due.

I'm getting better at meeting new people and experiencing new situations without any anxiety leading up to the event and, in some cases, I've found myself getting excited!

Tomorrow I start a new job and I can already feel some of the old anxiety creeping back.

I left my old company on Friday after 5 and a half years. In those 5 and a half years, my job was my rock. I started when I was barely 19 years old. That job has seen me have a baby, go through a terribly emotional marriage, get divorced, go through an emotional healing process, and (in the last year) fall in love, get married, have another baby and finally find true happiness.

The last year of my life has been the most peaceful since graduating high school. There were times, prior to that, when I literally felt as if a hurricane and come sweeping through my life and nothing was as it had been the day before. I would walk into work and instantly forget everything. It was 8 hours of emotion free bliss. When I could count on nothing else, I could count on the reassuring repetition that waited for me everyday after I clocked in.

I gave up that reassurance on Friday. It's time to leave that all behind. All the bad memories that I supressed while I worked all those years. All the days I came to work and had to be the best because it was the only place that I felt appreciated. It's time to move on.

Tomorrow I walk into a new building for the first time. In the book that is my life, the prologue has come to a close. It's time to start Chapter One. A clean slate that hasn't been scarred by my past. A blank page waiting to be written on.

But, I can't help the anxiety. It's there. And it's worse than ever because I haven't felt it for so long. However, I have a new strategy. Tomorrow I am determined to not suppress these thoughts and feelings. I am determined to embrace them and push through them.

Determined to talk to people and make the first attempt at friendship. Determined to show who I am and what I'm made of.

This is me.

And I'm scared.

Friday, July 16, 2010

My Anniversary

There are certain times in a person's life when they should reflect on the past. I do every year on my birthday and my kids' birthdays and at the holidays. . .

Today is my first ever wedding anniversary.

And I'm reflecting.

A lot.

My life has changed more than most people know. In the last five years, not only have I gone from a childless teenager to a mother of two beautiful little children, I've also gone from being belittled and broken by a man who didn't deserve me to being treated like royalty by my husband.

My husband loves, respects, and cherishes me. He is the man I was meant to be with and I'm so grateful that I found him.

Happy Anniversary, babe. I love you!