That Old Familiar Feeling (of Failure)

My anxiety is a funny thing. Not ha ha funny, obviously, but curious funny. The way it flares up and dissipates. What sets it off.

And the frustrations of how it can affect me.

Sometimes I’ll go days, maybe a whole week, with my anxiety pinging. I can feel it, hanging on my shoulders and clinging to my neck. It’s just there, making me uncomfortable, waiting to give me a squeeze. And squeeze it will. It’ll set my brain to overdrive at the slightest trigger.

My overwhelming thought when this happens is “I’m failing”. It is the mantra of my anxiety.

I’m failing. I’m failing. I’m failing.

As someone who’s fear of failure has severely negatively impacted her life, I think this is a pretty insidious thing for my brain chemicals to do. How’s your day going? Your week? Feeling a bit anxious? Well, that’s because you’re not doing enough and what you are doing isn’t good enough. Enjoy!

When this happened recently, it was during a very busy period. I had several projects going and I was struggling to keep all of my plates spinning. In fact, I dropped a few. And even though I managed to be incredibly productive, more productive than I anticipated, I would still have moments during that week when my anxiety would give me a squeeze and whisper in my ear, “I’m failing. I’m failing. I’m failing.” Of course, that voice got louder when I dropped my plates. Sure, I got all of this done, but you forgot to do something that you’ve done every other week for months. And you nearly forgot to do this thing that you’ve done every day for the last two months. You’re not doing as well as you thought, huh?

I’m failing. I’m failing. I’m failing.

It’s a scratchy voice and an itchy feeling. My shoulders are tightening and my skin is contracting just typing about it.

It’s a helpless feeling, too. Not just because my brain does this sort of clever shit to me against my will. It’s a helpless feeling because it validates the rotten thoughts I have about myself. It gives them more weight. I’m floundering because I’m failing and I’m failing because I’m not good enough to do any better.

If my depression is acting the ass, the result can be debilitating, a spiral straight to mental health hell.

If not, then my anxiety gets a rude awakening from my stubbornness, which is so embedded in my family’s DNA that it’s actually on the family crest. Because my stubbornness doesn’t care about my anxiety or failing. I have shit to do and I’m going to do it. The end.

This is part of the reason why I can fake being okay when my anxiety is actually doing a number on me. I might be a little extra awkward and maybe a little more forgetful, but otherwise, there’s nothing different about me. I’m taking care of business like I always do.

I’m failing. I’m failing. I’m failing.

And I’m too stubborn to let that stop me.

Writing–Reading Goals/50 Rejections Results

Fiction S-Z (a sequel)

I set myself two goals for the years. I wanted to get fifty short story rejections and I wanted to read twelve books. The results were mixed, but honestly, it was an overall fail for both goals.

First the fifty rejections. That was kind of a lofty goal, in retrospect. I tend to submit in bursts and I really didn’t have enough completed short stories to make this possible. Even the short stories I wrote during the year weren’t really enough to make up that deficit. Even though I scaled back the goal to twenty in November, it still wasn’t enough. As of right now, I garnered seventeen rejections for 2012. An improvement over last year’s total for sure, but far short of my goal. I think next year I’ll be a little more realistic and shoot for a more obtainable number.

The reading goals I set for myself were pretty specific (if you remember; I didn’t…I had to look them up). Not only did I have to read twelve books, six of them had to be fiction and six of them had to be non-fiction. Of the fiction books, at least one had to be in a genre I don’t read. Of the six non-fiction books, one had to be a memoir and only one could be a re-read.

The good news out of this is that I ended up reading a total of twenty books and I did read a couple of genres I normally don’t read. The bad news is that I failed in the non-fiction goals.

14 1/2 of the books were fiction (Margaritaville had both short stories and essays so I counted it as half). 5 1/2 books were non-fiction, falling half a book short of my six book goal. Two of those books were re-reads. And I didn’t manage to read a full on memoir.

So while I read more fiction than I usually do and read more overall than I have in a while, I totally bombed the non-fiction portion of the goals. I think next year’s goals are going to reflect that and my need to achieve balance.

Overall, I’m pretty disappointed with my lack of achievement. I’ve got some work to do next year.

Tales of Money-less Woes

International Money Pile in Cash and Coins

I’m having trouble making my ends meet this month. It’s not a good feeling. It’s not something I’m proud of. But it is a fact of my current existence.

There are two very good reasons why I’m having trouble this month. One, this bill period saw 3 1/2 extra bills (car sticker renewal, website renewal, a domain fee for a domain I thought I’d completely deleted but apparently I didn’t and of course that sort of thing isn’t refunded, and a little extra added onto my cell bill because I had to change plans mid-billing cycle). Two, I’ve only started one of my three new day jobs.

Had I not had one or two of the extra bills, I would have been fine. Had I started one or both of my other day jobs, I would have been fine. The combination of the two has me scrambling. If I had a couch, I’d be raiding the cushions for change.

It doesn’t help that sales have been slow the past couple of months. Books sales, jewelry sales, eBay sales, nobody is spending their money on the stuff I’m hocking. That money would have been both welcome and necessary.

Here’s the thing…I know I’ll land on my feet. The bills will get paid. They always do. I’ll find a way. I’m clever and resourceful and I know I’ll find the money I’m missing. Maybe I’ll borrow it. Maybe someone will come through in the clutch and buy something. Maybe I’ll luck out and get a quick odd job. Whatever happens, the bills will get paid.

When I was 22, this was a challenge. I didn’t like it back then, but back then I was 22. I was young. Now I’m 32. I shouldn’t be running into these problems at 32. I shouldn’t be scrounging to pay bills or borrowing money. I should be in a much better place financially and I’m not.

There are a lot of reasons why I’m not and I take responsibility for all of them that are mine. Not holding a regular 9-5 job like other grown-ups is one. My life would be so much easier if I could just be normal and work a 40 hour a week job and get that steady paycheck. But the older I get, the worse I get about submitting to that life. A flexible part-time gig is more my speed. As soon as I get all three of  my jobs going, my bills will be paid and I won’t be working more than twenty hours a week.

Being very optimistic about selling myself is another reason I’m broke. I have this stupid idea in my head that people want what I sell. That friends and family know people that want what I sell and will pass my info to those people. The reality is that those people are probably out there, but they aren’t getting word about me. And if they are, they don’t have the money to indulge themselves with my goods. My inherent awkwardness about promoting myself doesn’t help this cause.

I could go on, but I won’t. Nobody needs to see my list of money failures.

And that’s what this is. The culmination of many failures. We’ve already discussed how much of my self-esteem is tied to my bank account. Being called an ugly fat cow can’t even come close to doing the damage to my ego that borrowing money can.

Particularly now. I’m too old for this. I shouldn’t be here. Yet here I am.

With no one to blame but myself.

I’ll get through this month. I’ll get rolling on all of my jobs. I’ll sell a few more things. My bills will return to normal.

And slowly but surely I’ll find some self-worth once again.