Before you read - I know there are a few grammatical errors below. I’ve been contemplating writing about this and while I took a good chunk of my afternoon doing so, there are probably a few smalls things here and there.
I struggle with anxiety and depression (self diagnosed, yes. I know there’s some tension around self-diagnoses, but I can recognize patterns and symptoms when they’re so obvious). It started about a year ago, when I left/was removed from my dream job, moved from a city I had fallen in love with and where I was forming new friendships and my dating life was great, and soon after went through the experience of my best friend dying of suicide (I’ll write about that experience in another blog post). Needless to say, it’s been a tough year.
I had been unhappy within my position for a while, and honestly was probably too inexperienced/young for my position. I was a do-er, however, and I was producing content and making things happen for my company (mostly by way of creating relationships with writers, photographers, bloggers, and other content producers).
Like most people my age, my job is linked to my identity. I am what I do (at this juncture of life). I’ve been working to create a boundary between my identity and my work, but it’s hard. In my old job as an editor, I became so enthralled in the perks of it: traveling, nice events, free stays at boutique hotels, and copious amounts of rosé. I was an editor. And I was proud of that. I worked for years to get that kind of job. But working at a start up is also hard. I had to wear many hats, change duties daily, and basically work on the edge of my seat.
It was annoying, but I loved it. I was able to meet so many different kinds of people: celebrities, T.V. personalities, bloggers, influencers—so many people. I was able to travel. Essentially, any place I wanted to go, I could pitch and get approval and then reach out to them. People wanted our publication (still do) to cover them. I could write about whatever I got approved. I had so much freedom. However, eventually I got burned out. There were too many changes, too much office politics to jump through.
So, I left and was simultaneously removed from my position due to how unhappy I was, and it was hard. Really hard. At first, I felt relieved. No more dealing with random nonsense, no more last minute failures that weren’t my fault. And then doubt crept in, like it always does, and started its feast on my mental clarity. That’s when I experienced cyclical thinking and “spiraling out” for the first time.
I was scared for my future, about keeping the momentum going. What didn’t help was the added pressure from my parents, though I realize why they were pushing me to just find something to help with my bills. I applied everywhere I could within my industry. Finally, a friend mentioned a job opening at her company in Nashville, and that’s what how I got to this city.
Moving to a new city so swiftly while in the middle of a depressive episode is not advisable. Even more so, moving to a city where you know only very few professional contacts and have no friends is even worse. For the last several months, actually almost the last year, I’ve had a few friendships that I’ve made here, but they’ve fizzled out. Either because I did something stupid, or stopped talking to them for whatever reason.
Now, some people may think it’s brave or event extroverted to go out by oneself. And in ways it is, but it’s mostly hard. I like being around people and seeing them interact with their friends. Watching friend groups meld and people forming connections or friendships. But I can’t seem to do it myself. The act of saying “Hi, I’m Isaac.” to a total stranger is completely terrifying to me within the context of the bar scene.
However, making friends and dating are two completely different ways of socializing. The latter being the most obviously difficult.
My anxiety around dating and creating friendships comes from my previous experiences. I’ve never had it easy with casual dating. I have a talent for finding guys who treat me not so well. My mother constantly reminds me that I like it, when actually, I don’t. Admittedly, the entirety of my dating life is the result of my own actions—my intuition is impeccable. I know when I’m being played or strung along. I listen to my gut.
I don’t think I’m naïve. I know that dating is just dating, and when it comes to dating, if I’m insecure about the other person, I just assume that they’re doing whatever it is I’m worried about them doing. More than likely, I’m also talking to a few people at once and I am on dating apps. We’re all just here to have fun and live our young lives.
But I can’t help the utterly paralyzing anxiety I get from talking to someone. And when I’m isolated in the way that I’ve been for the past year, it just gets worse. I begin cyclical thinking, and I can’t stop myself. I try to just get over it, to do my own thing. But the thoughts are still there, and I spiral, text too much, and come off as “crazy.” And the sad thing is, if this was being done to me by someone else, I would think “Oh, hard pass on this one.”
All this to say, I probably need to calm down, tbh. And if I’ve hurt people, or annoyed people, or have created any kind of negative thought or feeling, I apologize.
I’m actively working on being a better version of myself than I was yesterday. It’s a process. But when I look back at my actions, what matters more than intent is my impact. And my impact so far has been.. lackluster, to say the least.
But I’m trying, and that’s the best I can do.
Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be deep diving into my experiences over the last year as a form of self care. I hope you decide to read along.