Anxiety on the Job

Yesterday, a woman who I had spoke with about advertising for the ice cream shop I work at back in February, stopped by for a visit. She gave me a heart attack.

She had called me a week ago, and I completely forgot to call her back. Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of calls to my work number, but not a lot of voicemails. Or if I do receive a voicemail, it’s someone who wants to talk about partnering up or wanting me to buy something from them. So, I’ve been ignoring my phone a lot. Bad for business, but right now the ice cream shop doesn’t want to spend more money on advertising.

When she walked in, immediately I could feel my face get hot. For whatever reason, I get red very easily. I have to speak in front of people? Insta-tomato. I’m called on and not prepared? Red like a firetruck. Ignored your call for a week and now you’re showing up at my office? Pretty sure I make cherries look pale. Thankfully, she is a very sweet woman, and completely understood; I told her how last week, we had been preparing for an open house to attend (which was true), and I completely forgot to get back to her voicemail (also true).

My face was hot, red, and I was sweating to top it off. After the initial shock, I calmed down and could answer her questions and we set up a time to meet. But I was embarrassed not only because I ignored her voicemail, but because I had such a hue reaction to her showing up unannounced. I’ve noticed lately, when I become really anxious in a situation, I tend to talk more. Which, growing up, it was difficult to get me to say more than 10 words per conversation. I used to be the quiet observant type. Now it seems my anxiety has morphed into a new form, and I’m a nervous talker now.

In addition to the advertising lady stopping by at random, the office hired on a new admin assistant. She’s an extremely friendly and polite person. But every time I talk to her, I fluster myself and won’t shut up. Which usually leads me to saying something stupid, stumbling over my words, or making the situation uncomfortable. She admitted to me that she gets nervous around new people, which shocked me because of how calm she is. I’m hoping that over the next couple of months working together, I can learn how to take on her calmness, because right now, I’m in such a nervous frenzy, I can’t get myself to speak properly.

This is all very frustrating to me, because I’ve always dreamed of being a public speaker. One of my biggest “if only” dreams is to become a TedEd speaker. But this isn’t going to happen if I can’t keep my skin from reddening, and my voice from wavering. At my networking groups, and even just speaking to new people, I always feel like this time I will be a confident speaker; I will be funny, thoughtful, and interesting. But the moment I stand up, it’s like all my words fall to the floor and I can’t control what I do with my hands, or what color my skin is.

I’m working on this. I’ve been working on this since I was 13. I’m not afraid to speak in front of people until the very second I have to. I’m hoping one day a switch will just flip and I will be a strong, confident speaker, because that’s what I want.


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