Fear, Isolation, and Perfectionism

October 6, 2016

 

The following was written the other morning, since then I have moved on from these feelings but felt since I had written them down and I strive for authenticity I might as well post about it. I would like to, later this weekend, write about how I am feeling now and what I decided in regards to moving beyond feeling this way, but for now, here we go…
 

I woke up the other morning in an absolute panic. What the fuck have I done. As I lay in my small one-person cot bed in student housing, in the dark, alone, I am nearly brought to tears by the weight of my decision. It is only the beginning of week 2 of my PhD and I am already regretting my decision to come here. Feeling scared that I am a fraud and that everyone will find out I am not as smart or as knowledgeable as I have lead them to believe. Feeling trapped in the financial decision that brought me here. Drowning in the uncertainty of the academic abyss that sits before me.
 
Why the hell did I put myself here again?
 
Flashbacks of the end of my MA creep into my head. The overwhelming anxiety, the depression I was plagued with. Academia feeding my need for perfectionism like a drug addict who just scored some dope. The anxiety attacks, oh the anxiety attacks. Waking up every morning feeling like I was vibrating at a different frequency to the rest of the world, and no one there, or anywhere in the world, to understand how I felt. Trapped in my own mind. Desperate, alone.

 
Shame.
 
That is what this feeling really is. I am in shame. I have probably been this way for months but wasn’t able to process it, wasn’t able to see because I was so caught up in my job with G, then working out how to come here and get everything sorted. But I have in fact let myself fall back into a place of shame, and I do not wish to stay here.

 
If you read my blog at all then you may know that at the beginning of the year I had decided I had had enough of feeling anxious all the time, feeling bad about myself, and feeling this need to constantly be perfect. As a result, I started a journey through therapy that proved to be absolutely profound. I learned a lot about myself. About how my childhood impacted the way I dealt with life as an adult, and ultimately, how my perfectionist tendencies were prohibiting me from living a life of happiness and contentment.

 

This was a large reason why I chose to turn down my PhD and follow my passion for travel getting the job with G. I was also climbing all of the time and was out in nature where I find absolutely the most contentment in life. But the job with G quickly became overwhelming. The constantly being around people, needing to be on 24/7 for weeks at a time, and, I think worst of all, the complete lack of time to process and centre myself quickly wore on my spirit and my resolve. On top of this, in a rather quick succession, a few things happened. I found out my stepmom had cancer, I wasn’t getting along with my co-CEO who I let make me feel like a failure (and I dwelt in it), I had a falling out with one friend whom I had just met and I let down another who I honestly care deeply about (I avoided him because he was reflecting back on me something I did not want to see, my own immaturity, my own lack of responsibility or carelessness), and I met someone who I felt like I could love and wanted the opportunity to find out. The job reflected for me things I didn’t like about myself, how little tolerance and affection I have for people, how short tempered I was, how long I could actively make myself feel bad just because I wanted to dwell in my own pity.

 

So foggy headed, and probably slightly depressed, I accepted my PhD spot not allowing for reservation or any real regard for the ramifications financially or otherwise. I needed to run. Run away from myself once again. But fuck me, why the hell hasn’t I learned this lesson yet?!? There is no escaping ourselves. We have to take ourselves as we are, the good and the bad. I have made excuses. I have put blame on other people. But at the end of the day, the only person responsible for me is me, and I think that’s what hurts the most. I am the biggest cause of my own pain, my own anxiety, and my own depression. It is ME that is the problem. Not where I live, who I am with, or what I do. I and I alone am responsible. And that is a hard pill to swallow.

 

I feel alone and that is because I have no friends here, but who’s fault is that? I do not actively do anything to change that. Why? Because I am afraid, and I always have been afraid, that by putting myself out there I am opening myself up to rejection. I have let that fear control me. I have let it affect my happiness. I mean there is nothing I would like more than to climb, but that involves finding a partner. Instead of going down to the gym during a social climb I do nothing. Why? Because what if I go down there and look like an idiot and everyone thinks I don’t know what I am doing. I know this sounds so stupid when I write it out but this is how my brain is thinking and the bodily response associated with it is absolute fear.
 
Even in posting this I am afraid. Afraid that it will make me look weak, out of control, or not competent. But I feel like I need more authenticity in my life because I don’t want to live a lie. I don’t want to have to pretend I am something that I am not and sit in fear of being found out. And I do realise that this fear is all of my own making, that my perceptions of others thoughts, opinions, and actions in response to me are just that, my perceptions.

Erica
More about Erica

Californian living in the UK. Erica is currently pursuing her PhD in Historical Geography at the University of Sussex. She is a writer and a researcher, a dirtbag and an explorer. Heart of the Nomad is her creative space to contemplate the complexities of life and share pictures and videos from adventures.

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