Shaking. Quivering. Shallow breaths. Nerves. Anxiety. Adrenaline.
It’s all starting to subside now. About 30 minutes has passed and I’m finally able to quell my over-analytical mind from thinking about the worst. Always – it jumps right to the worst that could happen and it’s propelled by fear.
What caused all this? Well… I applied for a fucking bartending job. You’d think I had just gotten into the ring against the world champion. There’s no rhyme or reason as to why I freak out like this. I cannot wrap my mind around this negative train of thought that just appears when big things happen. Some people have no problem with interacting with other humans. For whatever reason – I do.
Perhaps I was bullied too much as a kid. I seemed to hang around the kids that did it the most, too. It’s like I enjoyed the harassment and the putdowns. I brought it on myself, I’m sure. This new culture coming about is all about acceptance, but this is a NEW culture … of getting “woke,” as I’ve heard it called. The verbal beatdowns that I took when I was younger is probably what created this beast. A beast that seems to wake whenever I have some “important” social interaction to make. Or whatever I DEEM important. Meeting a new person on the street isn’t some daunting task, but the beast will tell me that they’re judgement means the world to you. To bump into an old high school acquaintance freaks me out, maybe because their judgement of me before is their impression of me now. Did I become a better human? Am I not some emotional dork that I could have been in the past?
It’s never the case. I know this. The new person I meet, they ask to hang out sometime. Nope. Sorry dude, it’s nothing against you, but you have no idea how much mental prepwork goes in before I can say “Fuck it! Let’s hang out today!” The old friend from high school? I need to be 5 drinks deep before I can relax around you and even then I’m going to feel inadequate.
What the fuck is this thing? This anxiety that follows me around like a pimple on the back of my neck. Please, don’t see the pimple, my skin is PERFECT! No it’s not, you’re human, asshole. We all get pimples…. right????!?!!
It’s funny to me that Planet Fitness has a lunk alarm about how we’re supposed to judge someone on their appearance and behavior (which is a normal human instinct, by the way), and then continues to define them as someone who JUDGES. Ridiculous. Just like not fat shaming someone, but they take up 2 seats on an airplane. C’mon guys, who the fuck are we fooling? Everyone judges, it just takes a mental recorrection of thought to say otherwise. Maybe the dude that dropped the weight let it slip or he just lost someone close to him and is burning off steam so he doesn’t go off the rails. Maybe he really is an asshole. Point is – you don’t know his battle.
I’m calm now. But I sat there and interviewed with the owner, who was a really friendly guy who I could have easily have a great and fluid conversation with… if we were on other terms. If we sat down and had a couple drinks next to one another, like fellow human beings, I probably wouldn’t have been freaking out. But this man held a lot of personal information in his hands, looked over it, and used it to pose questions on me like a test subject… AS HE SHOULD. Though, I sit there, shaking with 3 months experience pouring beer, leaving my last solid job due to disagreement with treatment of employees, as I hear the girl walking in behind me (far prettier, by the way) saying that she has 7 years of experience.
I don’t think I displayed how nervous and anxious I was, but I “Fake’ed it until you make’ed” it. I think I was one brain fart away from my voice cracking and my throat closing.
These feelings that creep up on me WHENEVER I have a human interaction with someone that I’m not completely comfortable with (IE – My girlfriend and that’s literally it), I don’t know if they’ll ever go away. It’s scary to think that you’re permanently stuck with something that can cripple your behavior sometimes, but I suppose that these are the lives we lead.
I know I’m not alone. I was passionate about helping kids develop courage and confidence in themselves through martial arts. It’s something that would have helped me had I been in a good program in my younger years. These kids needed martial arts just to know that they could get good at something and kick some ass if they needed to. Where I was unsure of my abilities and always doubted myself growing up (this mother fucker in my head STILL does it), I think I continued to be an instructor to help them. Helping people was the only reason I stayed so long. That… and comfort. Change is hard. It’s why people stay in dead end jobs or people stay in abusive relationships.
The unknown is scary as fuck. Have you ever seen Blue Planet? The creatures in the Mariana Trench look like they belong in a catina in an R-rated Star Wars.
Part of the fear for applying to something new meant I had to get out of my shell and accept I’m moving on. It’s not an easy pill to swallow and I almost choked on it… quite literally. Just going down there and applying was a moral victory for me. To overcome my ludicrous fear of judgement and meeting new people OUTSIDE my element, well, it meant a lot. I did not expect to be interviewed, but that was just the gravy. Thanks for being a nice guy, Rick.
But again, I did it. I’ll continue to do it. My only option is to sit back behind this computer screen and let life pass me by. I’d never meet new and interesting people, I’d never have new adventures or try new things. I’d fall into a deep and lonely hole. A hole that has no bottom. Even starting to write out some of the outcomes, I had to delete it. It’s a daily struggle to climb out of it and just exploring its’ depth would feed it.
It’s the story of 2 wolves…
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”
He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
On that note, I must feed the one of joy and gratefulness. To everyone that has ever approached me with a smile on their face, who has ever reached out to me to meet for coffee, to whoever has even just said the word “hello” to me – THANK YOU. I struggle daily to reach out to others and do the same. I hope to one day be as good as the others that keep their hearts open.
To those who create laughter and joy without constant putdowns to build themselves up – THANK YOU. You have made me smile and laugh with positivity. If I was in your presence while you did it, you helped me feed the right wolf.
I do my best to do things that I don’t want to do DAILY. Cold showers help with that. Meditation… also helpful, almost mandatory. Going to meet your girlfriend’s grandparents for dinner, yup, that’s another one I’m battling for tonight… and I LOVE those people. I hope to one day kick that wolf deep down into it’s own den and lock the cage for it never to be opened, but still, they fight over the same food. I do my best to feed the positive one, but the other one is meaner and fights dirty. They battle daily and it’s an ongoing war.
Let’s make a deal, guys and gals – I’ll continue to greet you with a smile, pump you full of positivity, and feed your happy wolf the best I can, as long as you do the same for me?
PS – As an email JUST rolled in for another interview down the street, my heart picks up and now the wolves are hungry again. Goddamnit. Feed the good wolf and breathe…. deep .. calm… collected… breaths….