One day, I had a meeting out of town that was department wide for work. I had been dreading going to it for a couple of weeks. We were all supposed to bring something potluck style for lunch. I had brought a spinach artichoke dip I made. Once the day came I felt like I couldn’t quite be myself during any points of the day. I let other people’s opinions of me sway me and affect me a lot. I left feeling bad even after getting home. I was in full self-shame mode.
I was asking my angels for help to feel better, but I also made myself feel bad for only talking to them when needing something. The extent I could go to make myself feel bad, that day, was surmounting.
A new girl, we’ll call her Stacy, had just started working for our department. She seemed super nice and friendly and I was excited to get to know her. But for some reason on the day of this potluck she had really bothered me. She was one in maybe 5 people in our old purple caravan that we had signed out to take. I kept trying to tell myself that she wasn’t bothering me on the way up there but the more I paid attention to her the more animosity and jealousy surged up within me. She could just be herself so easily. She was talking to Angela a lot because they were in the back seat together.
Stacy easily complimented Angela on how fun she was. I had two thoughts. One, why couldn’t I be fun? Two, why did I have such a hard time telling other people they were fun? I wanted to do that. That one bothered me more than not being fun.
Angela was having such a good time and I couldn’t help but feel she had sold out to do it, maybe not to have this new relationship with Stacy, but she definitely had a huge false sense of confidence that a ‘friendship’ with Lauren will give you. I swear something about a friendship with her made you feel like you were untouchable.
I was not in a good place. Work everyday had really worn me down. Seeing Angela and Lauren go down the hall to get coffee together everyday, laughing right beside my desk. I was in a place where I thought that even the people closest to me felt like they had to appreciate me. Like they thought I didn’t have anyone else to do it so it was their job to make me feel good.
I was totally in an automatic thinking rut. Black or white thinking, all or nothing thinking. I knew all these beliefs I was reaffirming about myself weren’t really true. I had had genuine moments of ardent appreciation of myself but when I was in this low place any positive thought felt completely out of reach.
I had just wanted the potluck to be over so badly. I had already suffered during the breaks we had taken and during lunch. Then people hung around for an additional 20 minutes after just chatting and I didn’t feel like I could talk to anyone. It had been a long day. To make matters worse I couldn’t leave because I had to wait for the carpool.
I couldn’t reach for any thoughts that made me feel okay with just being me. I was going outside then going back inside. I was waiting in the hall. I was trying to go back to where everyone was but I felt like everyone was wondering why I was there. I was comparing myself to everyone and to top it off, Lauren was there. I knew she had to feel victorious over me but that wasn’t even the worst part of it. I felt so awkward. I kept thinking that I couldn’t stand with Lauren and Peter too long, even though I knew them the best. I was afraid of what Lauren would think and then, therefore, say about me afterwards. I could tell by the way she was talking to me that she felt very superior to me in that moment. From the generosity of her heart had given me the time of day. To make matters worse when I was talking to Lauren an older gentleman, that she had wrapped around her finger, came over to talk to her and stood right in front of me and turned his back to me. I couldn’t help but think that maybe she had even talked to him about me.
I was really hard on myself about not going to talk to Brittany more. She seemed really cool and nice and she knew someone I knew from outside of work. I continued to self-shame myself hard. I couldn’t help but notice that everyone wanted to talk to her but nobody went out of their way to talk to me. Then I obsessed about why that was.
I had gone to try to talk to her and Erin during one of the breaks. It had felt awkward and forced. I couldn’t bear it, but I kept forcing it. They were probably just shooting the shit like barely talking to each other, the niceties. But in my head, I think, oh there’s the two people that are nice and that I actually like and respect in the lab and if I’m alone and I don’t go talk to them then I would really be a failure. And some part of me also thought that if I didn’t have a ‘successful’ conversation with them and make them smile while feeling comfortable, that I was also a failure. It would have meant that I was not okay and I didn’t want to admit that to myself.
To make matters worse, I worried about showing my face at work again. Wondering if anyone else noticed how awkward I was. In the days following, I was wondering if Angela would act like she was way better than me. I was wondering what kind of conversation Lauren and Angela would have about how pathetic I was.
My mind reeled back to when the new girl, Stacy, asked Angela why she didn’t come down to see them in their section of the building more often, like Lauren did. I knew that Lauren always went down there and I felt like the outsider again. I continued to lament about people maybe having noticed that I was upset that day.
I was seeing everyone else get love or at least attention. People asking other people how they were, striking up conversations and no one wanted to do that with me. I guess Arthur did but I was too worried about what and who everyone else was ‘getting’ that I couldn’t stay positive. It was horrible. So horrible. I wasn’t in a place to see how other people were doing even if I did try to start some conversations. It felt like I was dying of panic. I kept telling myself that it was okay, and that people would just think I was shy, but inside I was really hoping no one would talk shit about me. I didn’t know if I would be able to take anymore.