It seems to be around this time of year that I need to give myself a bit of a pep talk, a confidence boost, a sense of purpose. And this year is no different.
There’s just something about this happy, fun, social time of year that makes me feel so…inadequate. Looking back at previous years on my blog, always around this time there is some sort of post about gearing myself back up again; and I think I’ve figured out why.
For most of the year we can all just get on with our lives, see people when we want to see people, do things when we want to do things, live our days as we want. This time of year – as much as I love it – is the time of year when we’re under pressure to show our fun-side, that we can let our hair down and that we are ‘up for a laugh’.
I find this pressure of people-pleasing to be emotionally draining. I refer back to my earlier statement of feeling inadequate here; I’m a quiet person, I don’t have a lot to say in real life, I embarrass easily and I don’t feel like I fit in or keep up with the ‘life and soul of the party’ people. Yet at Christmas with the various social gatherings to attend, there’s this need to be observed as a fun loving person or risk being seen (and remembered) as a boring, dull, lifeless sole.
Even just the thought of work Christmas parties, friends’ parties and family gatherings – can be enough to strike fear into the most nonchalant of people.
Although most of my Christmas functions are done with for another year, I still feel the need to address this issue – to comfort those who still have their’s to contend with and share how I got through them.
The work Christmas do…when you’re a new member of staff is an incredibly daunting experience. I worked myself up so much before hand that I got to a stage where I could almost have cried. Seriously.
What was I so worried over? Who I would talk to, if anyone would want talk to me, where I would stand, if I would look like a pig by eating too much, if there were games would I look like a moron for getting it wrong, would I have to dance? The list goes on. My mind went into overdrive as the time drew nearer and I didn’t know what was to be expected of me.
I knew it boiled down to purely worrying about what my new work colleagues would think of me; would they see me as a team player, would I be accepted into the group, could I join in? Just before the festivities were to start I did a few things to get myself a bit calmer:
- Stopped my thoughts dead in their tracks
- Concentrated instead on slowing my breathing
- Lifted my head and stood straighter
- And told myself to just go with it
So I did. It was a party in the office that started with a buffet. I got myself some food – not piled up even though I wanted to – and looked for someone I knew…or at least may have had a brief chat with previously in the kitchen; I should first explain why I was having to worry about being on my own for this event; my team is a team of two, me and my boss, my boss doesn’t celebrate Christmas so had the day off, which left me to represent the marketing team on my own. Anyway, I found someone I’d briefly chatted with before and we talked for a bit whilst we ate…then the convo dried up and I was on my own again. I then spotted someone else I had previously spoken with in the kitchen and asked her and the group she was with if they minded if I joined them. I had found people to talk to! First worry over with.
After the food, the games began. We were put into teams and then had various tasks to complete. There was a quiz, and then the physical games…urgh, I hate physical games, bring on Trivial Pursuit, that’s what I say. Golf, mince pie eating, balloon popping and football. We all had to have a go in at least one game so I took a go at the football one (best of a bad bunch)…all eyes on me, the football, my kicking skills and the goal. I had to chip the ball into a ceiling height goal…I hadn’t kicked a ball for an extremely long time…this was not going to be pretty.
The ball was lined up, I thought my heart was going to thump itself right out of my chest, I ignored the voice telling me to not screw it up, I knew I needed to use the side of my toes I just had to give it a shot…and although I didn’t score – it wasn’t a bad shot, nearly got there and I didn’t make any kind of fool out of myself for it either. Phew!
Frankly, once I’d attempted my goal kick and had already had to be the centre of attention, my anxieties melted away. I’d joined in and lived to tell the tale!
Then that night it was the turn of my husband’s previous work’s do. I knew there’d be no games or anything at this one so that would mean the emphasis would be solely on me being a good source of conversation. And this time it rested on two grounds; one making a good impression for my husband’s sake, and the other for my sister who is trying to get a job with them. The nerves began again.
- I picked an outfit I knew I felt confident in – then got told it was a Christmas jumper event and I wouldn’t be allowed in without one – so couldn’t go with the confidence boosting outfit
- I put on some lively music and had a bit of a sing-song and a dance around to lift my mood
- And then said ‘FUCK IT LET’S GO!’
I had a great time. I chatted, listened, laughed, made others laugh and once again made no kind of fool out of myself. There was an instance when saying hello to the host neither one of us had a clue what to say to the other to start a conversation, which 1: was super awkward and 2: would normally be something that I beat myself up over for being boring, but it takes two to make a conversation, and they couldn’t think of anything either – so I’ll only take 50% of that being my fault.
The moral of this tale? Ignore the negative, condescending, and plainly rude voices in your head telling you you’re rubbish, you’ll make a fool of yourself and you’ll have a horrible time; because those kind of thoughts get you nowhere good fast, and leave you wanting to curl up under your covers at home – not experiencing life outside. Try not to let your imagination run wild (like mine does) and show you all the bad things that will happen – because they won’t happen. They won’t.
I am well and truly my own worst enemy, stopping myself from enjoying new experiences because of fear, but what do I have to be afraid of? At the end of the day, they’re just people ffs and really, does it matter what anyone thinks of us?
“Do not go gentle into that good night.” Dylan Thomas
Image source: Freepik