It's alright don't panic
"It's alright, don't panic," I say to myself as I draw a deep breath. I take another and exhale loudly. "You can do this. You got this."
The woman in the mirror looking back at me is not entirely convinced, but there's enough strength in her eyes to persuade me I can go back out there. One more deep breath. Off we go.
There have been more times than I care to count that I've had to go through this rigmarole, this pantomime, this play. Oh no she didn't - oh yes she did! playing in my head, and all the while my heartbeat in my ears, no words or not the right words in my mouth.
Sometimes I can see it coming. A social situation in which I know hardly anyone can do it, if I don't think I'll connect with people. A work environment in which I'm the least experienced or the least knowledgeable. I anticipate the challenge of feeling not enough, and because I anticipate it, I should be able to address it properly, wouldn't you think? Well, sometimes, yes. Other times I let my insides get knotted into a ball and it's a battle not to withdraw into myself.
I wasn't born like this. Something - somethings, some experiences - made me this way. But I'm getting out, one try at a time. One deep breath and then another, and the reminder to myself that I am capable, I am worthy, I do belong.
Isn't it when we feel that we don't belong that we lose ourselves in the worst way? It's hard to bluff your way through a situation where you don't feel as confident as you need people to think you are, if you have an outsider complex, an imposter mindset. And whether that's inflicted on your or just grows organically in your mind, it can really scupper your attempts to progress in life - socially, at work, wherever.
What I am learning is that it's not the absence of these thoughts and feelings that marks a truly successful person. It's the overcoming; it's the persistence. It's finding the still small voice that reminds you who you are and what you're made for. Or, if you don't know that just yet, that you have value and you can get through what you're facing.
I'm learning that to be the learner, the first year, the rookie of the pack has advantages. People like to help you. People don't feel threatened. You have a new shot at relationship building, at growth, at development. Who wouldn't want that? When did we decide we needed to know everything already? Studenthood in any form is empowering - I should embrace it.
Instead of focusing on what I don't know or can't do, I should focus on what I do know, what I can do. Because we all have something to bring to the party. Don't undersell yourself, Amber - my mum used to tell me this!
Lovely readers, whoever you are and whatever your challenges - don't undersell yourself. Take a deep breath, and then another. You are worthy. You are capable. You can pull through. You got this.