It’s 3 weeks since I went to the seminar, and after all the realizations, and wondering what the hell it means to be called “magnetic”, I’m starting to feel the downswing. So far I’m mostly experiencing anxiety as I try to figure out what my new baseline is. The old one was steeped in all the not good enoughs, never as good as that person, never going to achieve much, just going to go through life struggling to live up to the expectations set upon me that I internalized. The new baseline is somewhere in between my negative mindset and the one where I blew it all up. Where? Who the hell knows at this point. I’m told this is integration. I feel like I’m crashing.
I was warned about this, and in my therapy appointment last week she pointed out it isn’t an “if” but a “when” it happens. It was already happening when I was talking to her. I had already experienced the waves of negative thought/energy coming at me as I made choices of what to do for me and trying to figure out how to best navigate the changes. One of the choices I made this past week was when I came to the realization that I can’t leave the project I begged to be taken off of. It’s high profile, it’s political and I was falling flat at every communication-turn. I felt ineffective and frustrated knowing that some of what I was experiencing was gender-bias, and some of it was me. The last few months, my mantra has been “just hang on until they get the replacement” and I mentally checked out. Then, I happened to have coffee with a woman I know who is working on the this project in a different role. We had a candid conversation about all the issues and at one point she said to me “You’re in a unique position in this project. You can see all the perspectives.”...and something clicked in my brain. She’s right, I have been able to see all the perspectives: the way my place of work doesn’t communicate internally, the way the consultants act because I’ve been there in the competitive consulting world, the way communication breaks down between us and the partner because everyone gives lip service to “communication” and “openness” yet does the opposite. We’re headed for a trainwreck, and it’s likely to hit this summer unless someone does something to stop it. That person isn’t going to be my replacement - putting that person on this project would be like throwing them into the frying pan. It’s not fair and it’s a good way to burn out the next program manager. Part of me is excited to pursue this, and I was so excited after having coffee that I immediately brought it up with my supervisor. He seemed happy that I wanted to stay on, and I felt a surge of engagement again.
Then I told the technical team lead (a good friend of mine). He wasn’t supportive at all, and it felt like a punch to the gut. Then I told one another team member and she wondered why I just don’t sit back and “watch the show”. Those two combined took the wind out of my sails and left me reeling. I shed all the rest of the armor, tossing it to the side and ready to take on anything. Great! I don’t need it, I can be myself, and myself is lighter and happier and more funny than I knew was possible. What I didn’t realize is that with all this new openness will come negative reactions from people I’ve known and worked closely with for years.
Which brings me to where I am now. Since that happened, I haven’t exactly questioned my decision to stick with the project, but I’ve felt the walls start to come back up. I want to contract into myself and stop putting myself out there. Frankly, it’s been exhausting the past 3 weeks. The anxiety is different and took me a while to hone in on. I couldn’t figure out why I kept feeling so damn high and non-functional. Oh, hey, that’s what anxiety is when it isn’t also caught up with depression. Under the anxiety is my old friend Fear. Fear is still trying to drive the bus; fear of overextending myself, fear of the unknown, fear of what is possible, fear that whatever I’m meant to do is something far larger than I can even imagine.
I can recognize what’s going on and try to minimize it. I can reach out to people in my micro-group from the seminar. So I did, and hopefully it’ll help to talk to someone else who maybe is struggling with how to deal with the new awareness. I can focus on how to balance my introverted-ness with the need to make connections.
So, I guess that’s what I’ll do. Keep pushing forward when I want to hide.