Anxiety has always been a word that I have been familiar with, but I just never really put much thought into it. However, I recently went to my doctor for a routine check-up. When I was in the nurse's office, my blood pressure was higher than normal. She seemed a little concerned and sent me on to the doctor. When he came in the room, we began to talk about my thought process. It was the first real time I spoke out loud about it. Through his questioning and my answers, we quickly realized that the ball of stress living inside of me was anxiety.
It turns out that I over analyze everything and hate feeling trapped. While over analyzing is a great tool for something like building a fence, it's an awful thing to have during something like a meeting. What do I mean by this? Well, when I am making something, I will obsess over a concept in my head. I will draw out every option I can think of over and over again until I finally get to the point of implementing it. Then, once it is done, I will obsess with the outcome.
The same thing happens to me during a meeting. I will overthink all possible outcomes before the meeting even happens, continue to run them through my head during the meeting, and then will replay the whole meeting in my head for hours after. I will dwell on my awkwardness and try to produce a fix for next time. The whole process really wears on my brain. Oh yeah, remember when I said that I hate feeling trapped? Well, that feeling couldn't be more intense than during a meeting. It's not just that I don't like it. My body feels completely nervous, my gut gets tight, and I go into a fight or flight mode that I have a very hard time controlling.
The whole reason that I started my self-employed journey was because of anxiety during interviews. I have always analyzed the world around me, but the post-college interview process was when I started to see it had its negatives. Those interviews were some of the worst experiences I ever had. I had a similar feeling the first time I rode a roller coaster! It made me irrationally angry at myself and I started to despise the process of getting a job. I thought the best fix was to avoid the interview process completely. I decided to start my own business, which ironically required a ton of meetings!
I began to build websites for clients. The first few came easily because I did them with my father as the front man. But soon after I was on my own! The first few meetings were tough. I made it through them, and it all started to work out! I also had a brand new girlfriend (Jada) filling my soul with motivation! As time went on, my confidence grew and grew and my anxiety slipped away. All the feelings that drove me into starting my own gig were becoming a faded memory.
I eventually pivoted away from web development, and I transferred my energy 100% to J&D. The momentum was fast, and we grew. The best part was that I also never had to do a meeting alone. We were a team and we kept each other feeling great. The over analyzing was always there, but I used it to grow our dreams. My confidence stayed high until about two years ago. For whatever reason, I let my guard down and these feelings came back.
“Hello,” they said, “I am here to mess with you!” My mind was stuck in a loop, and my body was back to feeling so uncomfortable during meetings. I felt paralyzed. It really is hard to explain. I knew something was up and I worked hard to distract my mind. I would count to ten, fiddle with my fingers, simply do anything to get my mind to stop thinking about being trapped. I came up with all kinds of tricks to try to help. Then, BAM one day they just went away again.
What changed? A lot! We moved our business forward, hired an employee, got a studio, and I was feeling pretty dang confident again. I was able to sit through meetings focused on the present. I was using my analysis to help us grow again. I was putting it to work for me!
I realized that my anxiety is afraid of my confidence. If I keep a positive group surrounding me, keep myself healthy, and make sure I know I am awesome ... the paralyzing fear goes away. I am stronger than my brain quirk, and I can do anything I put my mind to.
If all else fails just take a deep breath and remember that!