It has taken a long time for me to realize that I can’t control anybody but myself. And sometimes even that’s not true.
Along with the small list of ailments and disorders that I get to have fun with every day of my life, I also have to deal with sort of a generalized anxiety. This acts either as background noise to my day and makes me a little high strung or it acts as an electric hum that sort of sits in the top of my stomach and makes me extremely high strung and nervous about, well, everything. I’ve been given medication to manage it which is really great because it actually doesn’t have any adverse affects other than it calms me down and allows me to think calmly and usually much clearer. It slows me down without slowing me down if that makes any sense.
But, anyway, we were talking about anxiety. It really comes into play with people because, as friendly as I may be, I don’t think I’m the greatest in dealing with people sometimes. I often feel I’m really bad when it comes to meeting new people because, to be honest, I spent a lot of time growing up as a loner. I’m an introvert with some extroverted tendencies. I can engage in conversation but when it comes to meeting people or introducing myself to someone new there’s this buzz in my gut that starts asking questions about how I’ll be perceived and if they’ll think I’m weird. They’ll be polite and then they’ll walk away wondering what my problem is.
I’m getting help for this. My first appointment is today, actually. But what I’ve been trying to learn or teaching myself is that I can’t control the reactions of other people. I’m kind of an odd bird. I read a lot of books and use big words in when I talk and usually the person has to stand back or I there’s a chance I’ll hit them while gesticulating, especially when I get passionate or excited. Yeah, sure, some may perceive that as a bit strange but it’s not really my objective to manage the perceptions of others. It’s a lot easier for me to be myself and let people see me for who I am then to try and make them comfortable.
I have this problem a lot at work. I had a supervisor who wanted me to go around to the members of my team and ask them what their perception of me was. I stared at him blankly for a minute, acted like I was going to do it, then proceeded to go back to my desk and do my job. It’s easy to do this at work because I have talked to everyone in my department at least once and have talked to probably everyone in every one of our call centers at least once. They all know how I operate, they know how I do my job and they know I’m good at it. You don’t need any more of a perception than that. So, needless to say, I ignored the request of my supervisor.
This does not translate well to the real world. My anxiety is much higher in places filled with people I don’t now. At my very small Bible College I have managed to become friends with a small number of people. But there is a slew of new students that I just don’t understand. With anxiety it’s really easy to fall into the trap that you don’t belong especially when you’re eight years older than the people you’re around. But even with some of the people, especially the staff, I wonder what they think of me and sometimes I get real concerned whether or not they take me seriously.
I have to remember that I can’t control the perceptions of anyone around me. I know who I am and that should be sufficient for me to communicate with others with my own personal flair and tone.
Sometimes, that’s a lot harder than it sounds.