Ever have those days where you just know it’s going to be a bit shit?
I haven’t really struggled with my anxiety for a while now, mainly due to life getting in the way. I’ve been living in my own place with my girlfriend since February last year (which, if you’ve been reading my older posts, you’ll know is a big deal for me) and I’ve moved jobs, away from somewhere I didn’t feel valued to a fresh start in a new industry.
During that time, it’s felt like I’ve been slowly but surely regaining my confidence. I now feel more comfortable in social situations and more accepting of my own faults and how people react to them. I’m also a lot more open-minded about things than I used to be, which helps put things into perspective more often.
That being said though, there are still “those days” where I feel myself slipping into unhealthy anxiety behaviours. Those days where seemingly no matter what I try to do, however much I try to tell myself that anxiety is not something that I own but instead is something that I feel, no matter who I talk to about it, I simply cannot snap myself out of convince myself that things are better than they seem.
A few days ago was a perfect example.
I woke up with a general feeling of annoyance and disdain – the cause of which I had no idea. I struggled to get myself out of bed and ready for work and sure enough, that led to me getting washed and dressed later than usual and leaving for work later than usual, meaning I had to briskly walk to the train station.
During my journey, I rounded a blind corner to be greeted by a guy on a bike (riding on the pavement, I might add) who has to swerve around me to avoid hitting into me. He rather annoyedly remarks “watch out for the bike mate” as he goes past (you know, because it was obviously my fault for not being able to see around blind corners… or expect bikes on the pavement). At this point, I start thinking “well, this is going to be a shit day isn’t it?“.
The rest of my journey is normal. I meditate on the train, like I have been since the New Year, and get my mind ready for work.
Once I’m at work, the first few hours pass by just fine. The people who sit around me, who I’m still getting to know, all seem perfectly happy and the usual joking and pissing around takes place until about lunch time.
With our focus wondering to our growling bellies, someone mentions going to a burger place for lunch. Everyone swiftly agrees and we head over to the restaurant.
As we walk there, I start sensing this general feeling of remoteness from the others. This is largely due to the people with me seemingly being less open to conversation with me than usual, yet happily chatting among themselves. Even the new girl – who started two weeks ago – is making conversation with the two guys and girl with which I’ve been working since before Christmas. The confidence (or arrogance – I haven’t made up my mind yet) that pours out of her is something I wish I had.
Comparing the difference in interaction between her and my colleagues and me and my colleagues starts to make me wonder just how much these people actually like me and what effect my turning around and going back to office would actually have on this lunch.
A strange lunch
After a rather painful 15 minutes walking, we arrive at the restaurant and take our seats. There’s five of us sitting at a table of six and I’m sitting at one end with one guy given the decision of sitting opposite me or opposite the guy at the other end. He chooses to sit opposite me which came as a bit of a welcome surprise.
After a couple of minutes, the waiter comes over and takes our orders. I order the mushroom burger which typically wouldn’t be my usual order, but I’ve drastically cut down my meat intake since New Year and quite frankly, I fancied something a bit different.
Bizarrely, at least to me, the selection was met with mocking from Miss Confrogance (a mash up term I am now officially coining) and the guy opposite me.
“Why would you come to a burger place and order a veggie burger?!” is the first question I’m posed with, laced with the same level of outrage you’d expect if I’d squatted over the table and… well you can figure it out.
Confused, I respond “I just fancied a change.”
“Must be part of your vegetarian-five-days-a-week plan,” is the response I get from Confrogance – a concept she came up with for me because I told her I don’t eat meat unless I’m out of the house. Personally, I’m quite surprised at how confident she was to mock such a thing considering we’ve only worked together for a couple of weeks, but then maybe that’s just my British belief to get to know someone a bit longer than two weeks before being comfortable enough to mock their beliefs kicking in. After making me feel uncomfortable, she moves on to mock the chicken burger ordered by the guy at the other end of the table.
After that awkward exchange, we enjoy our burgers in relative silence with our mouths being occupied by burger and chips.
Then comes the bill. At no point in my life has splitting the bill exactly ever ended in everyone being completely satisfied with how things turned out. Everyone at the table obviously thought the same as they swiftly whip out their calculator apps and start totting up what they owed.
I’m the last to pay. The waiter asks how much I’d like to pay and I say “£16.80 for me please.”
“£16.80?” The waiter replies.
“Yes,” I confirm.
I notice Confrogance is shaking her head, along with end-of-table guy.
“What? Have I missed something?” I question before quickly explaining that “I’m going to add the tip on when he passes me the machine” just in case that’s what I’ve missed.
“He’s just taking the total you give him off the overall bill so you need to add the tip on beforehand,” says Confrogance, perfectly in sync with the waiter handing me the card machine and me noticing that there’s no option to add a tip.
“Oh…” I say, turning back to the waiter and saying, “sorry, could you make the total £18.70 instead?”
More head shaking.
“Seriously, what?” I ask, starting to feel flutters of anxiety as I fear I’ve completely missed something.
“How come you couldn’t just round it up to £19?” I’m asked.
I jokingly say that I’d already rounded up to the nearest 10p as my anxiety grows over the thought of these people thinking I’m a cheapskate.
Some awkward drinks
Eventually, the painful payment scenario ends and we wander back to work. The next few hours pass in a food coma induced-haze until the clock strikes 5:30. At this point, an email hits all of our inboxes at once: “The bar is now open!” signalling the opening of the Thursday night bar we have downstairs every week.
I head down with a junior member of staff who was present at lunch and I notice a shift in her manner toward me. It’s almost a bit complacent and she doesn’t give me much conversation to feed on. Again my mind begins to wonder – has the earlier experience altered her view of me?
We take a seat at one of the big benches, crack open a beer and start gorging on snacks. I start the talking and the lack of meaningful retorts from her continues, most of her responses being definitive and short. Why was she so eager to come to the bar with me in the first place if she didn’t fancy a conversation?
After about 10 minutes, the guy who sat opposite me at lunch comes and sits next to me, giving me an out of the one-sided conversation I’d been having. We chat for a while – an actual two-sided conversation this time – and finish our respective beers, at which point I ask “are you having another one?” He shakes his head whilst wondering over to where the beers are. He then stops, looks at the beers and turns back around toward me, but with a bizarre look as if he thought I’d be gone already. “Are you having another one?” I ask again, slightly confused at what was happening. Again, I’m greeted with a shaking head.
I leave and head home, questioning whether the guy was lying to me and actually stayed for another one like it seemed he was doing. As I expected from the moment I woke up, this day had turned out pretty shit.
It’s the small things
This might all seem a bit tedious but this is the kind of stuff that used to bother me all the time and, evidently, still does from time to time.
It’s these minor exchanges, strange expressions and over-reactions to what I would class as perfectly normal occurrences that really hit my confidence and make me re-examine everything I do. It makes me question loyalties of friends and loved ones, doubt my own capabilities and personality, and ponder whether everything is, in fact, ok.
Now, I know that there’s a high probability that I’m reading too much into situations like this. Maybe Confrogance was mocking because actually, she’s comfortable with doing so with me, which in itself is a compliment. Maybe the one-sided conversation I was having was the result of a long day for her. And maybe the guy really did just head home, as strange as it looked.
And that’s all I can do to remind myself that these days are just that: days. Not weeks, not months, not years. But single days that only last for 24 hours. And as much as it sucks during that day, I can only hope that the next day is going to be a lot better.