Day 1: How I avoided a breakdown

This time last week I was about to start another Art Direction and Copywriting course. I was walking the tightrope between excitement and my own imposter syndrome driven anxiety. I had given up my SEN teaching job of twelve years, to retrain and step into an entirely new industry. No small feat. 

Two days before the course was due to start I was informed by the tutor that the course would not be running and I was out on my own, courseless and jobless. Sometimes situations are so ridiculous that they just seem amusing, so are easier to handle. I managed to see the funny side and also ignore the impending black hole I was headed towards. I reached out to SCA and here I am, one last minute interview later, having received my to do list for the beginning of term. 

After the emotional rollercoaster of the past week I’m back in familiar territory. I opened the email this morning to read the tasks I had to complete and the ideas I needed to generate. The familiar nausea crept over me as I began to panic, ‘I’ve got nothing, no ideas!’

These are a few of the things I did today to avoid a breakdown. 

Avoided a hangover – You may be in your early twenties and able to burn the candle at both ends successfully. I’m 33, so my ability to function the morning after is long gone. Regardless of age, it’s no mystery that a hangover is the best way to start your day feeling anxious, whether or not you’re prone to feeling that way. Sweating bullets of gin is a miserable affair. 

Reminded myself how I got here – Even the most confident of people (or people who come across as confident) feel the burn of imposter syndrome. As an unconfident human being, it gets me pretty much every time I sit down to make something. It’s always important to take some time to remind myself that there was an application and interview process here, which I got through. I need to remember that. 

Did something else for a bit – Sometimes if you are drowning in anxiety, the best thing to do is stop. Take a break. Walk the dog. Clean the toilet. Re-alphabetise your shoe collection. Whatever it is you enjoy doing. 

Meditated (whatever your version of that is) – I used to think that meditation was a load of hippy bullshit. Whenever I tried to do it my mixture of hyperactivity and overthinking would always turn it into an introspective nightmare, not useful. What I have learned now though, is meditation doesn’t just have to mean sitting cross legged in a quiet room. Any activity which calms and clears your mind is meditation. I never thought I’d say it, but I really enjoy running. Mostly because I’m built like a Sumo wrestler who’s let themselves go. The monotonous discomfort of running is perfect to distract you and allow your mind some space to breathe, even if your body can’t. 

So that’s day 1. Let’s see what day 2 has to offer.


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