…the end of the world as I know it…
Not really the end of the world, but for moments today it certainly felt that way.
See, I have this amazing job. I get to do work that I love with people I genuinely like. I get to work from home more often than not. I get paid well. I work for a smallish, but growing company that kind of has all of the perks of a small company and all of the perks of a big company at the same time. When I do have to go into the office, I can take public transportation so I’m not driving in San Francisco.
All good things. And most of the time, I love everything about it.
But there are also days like today, where the looming feeling of doom was thick enough you could scoop it up in a soup ladle. And it probably seems silly to anyone who isn’t a serious introvert (which I’m not, technically) or an agoraphobe (which I am). What could this job I love possibly do to make me feel that way you ask?
Well, tomorrow is our company kick off, a yearly, all hands, YAY BIRST meeting that starts at 8 am and runs to 5:30pm and is followed immediately by the *not mandatory but strongly suggested* company dinner. This means ALL the employees, not just from the SF office, but from around the world, in one room. Together. At the same time. Talking. Possibly talking to me, and expecting social interaction.
Now, I love social interaction. I just handle it better in small groups or one on one. My team? There’s six of us. I LOVE team meetings and the like. All of these people together is enough to have me reaching for my Xanax and contemplating ways to minimize the impact (sit near a door, sit on the end of a row, get there early, before everyone else, make sure you get people you know to sit beside you/around you, etc). Then getting on rush hour public transportation to get from the location of the meeting to the location of the dinner (BART is standing room only at that hour….and they push the boundaries of that)…and the possibility of having to sit through dinner with people I don’t know…the word TERROR springs to mind.
However, if that was it, if when that was over and I was safely home, I was done with the week and could work from home the remainder of the time, I would deal with it. I would control my breathing and meditate and mitigate and all that jazz, and I’d survive.
But, that wasn’t it. The next day was scheduled to be an even more terrifying day with more people I didn’t know (or didn’t know well) crammed into a room that was too small for the number of people, set up in a way that there is no way to sit near the door (I’ve been in these rooms) in a class to teach us how to create customer success. This is one of those classes where they make you pair up with people you don’t know well and “practice” their inane scenarios that make you sound like a doofus and feel like a dingbat and probably wouldn’t change the way I communicate with people anyway.
To be honest, this was giving me heart stopping moments, anxiety bad enough that there were times when I wasn’t sure I was going to keep my breakfast down. Like I said, to anyone who doesn’t have this issue or who isn’t a deeply introverted introvert, it probably seems silly. At times today when I was talking to a friend, trying to keep from having a complete mental breakdown, I thought it was silly, and wished I could make it just go away.
I hate being like this. I hate that it can hit me without warning and make me leave an event I was enjoying. Or make staying feel like I’m in a fight for a championship belt or something. I know that come tomorrow night, I’m going to be exhausted because the effort to be “normal” and “social” is draining. I had no idea how I was going to manage Thursday at all.
Fortunately, I have a great boss. I managed to steal a few minutes of her time today, and explained my anxiety, my growing fear, my mind dumbing terror. Her response was to cut me out of the Thursday class thing all together.
So, the world isn’t ending after all.