In just under two hours I’ll be on Ujima radio in Bristol. You can listen along at the top of the page here: http://www.ujimaradio.com/ from 12 – 12:30 and then I think I’m on again at 13:15 for quarter of an hour.
I’m getting incredibly anxious. Will I be able to park in the scary multi-storey? Will I find the radio station? Will I be able to say anything other than “Err… ummm…” or even speak at all? Will I have a sudden need to vomit just as the slot starts? Will I blank? Will I-
You get the idea.
This, my lovelies, is the nature of anxiety as a disorder. It is not rational. It is all consuming. It does not care that I’ve been to conventions and sat on panels and been absolutely fine. It rejects the evidence that I will probably be okay – even a previous appearance on radio is disregarded.
Anxiety is not logical. It can always find a reason to keep me scared. That’s its job, after all. Right now, it’s trying to freak me out to the point that I am actually incapable of leaving the house. It wants that, because if I stay at home, I will be safe. All of the possible things that could go wrong at the radio station will be rendered impossible.
I made a decision, some time ago now, that I wanted to be a successful author more than anything else in my professional life. That meant I had to consciously decide that no matter how bloody terrified I get, I have to push through.
I was chatting to a lovely chap called Marcus at Eastercon about this. He couldn’t understand why I could get so freaked out before any kind of panel / appearance and then seem to be fine.
There’s a couple of reasons. 1) the anticipation is a zillion times worse than when the trigger actually starts. The only exception to this I’ve found so far is Ready, Steady, Flash. 2) I seem fine, but underneath I am still terrified. I just don’t show it when I’m “on”. Or at least, I try not to. If people look closely they see how much I’m shaking. When friends hug me afterwards they often comment on how violently I’m shaking afterwards too!
But there’s another thing too: my anxiety is not me. As time goes on, I’m realising more and more that it’s just this horrible thing that swamps me, but it’s not the bits of me that gets excited and waves hands around when trying to explain what’s so cool about GMing, it’s not the bit of me that writes books and stories, it’s not the bit of me that likes to make people laugh and it’s not the bit of me that just wants to meet and get to know other lovely geeky people who love the same stuff as me.
And because of that, I’m trying damn hard not to let the anxiety get in the way. But that means that I will shake, I will squeak for help, I will have to stand by myself in a corner sometimes, freaking the fuck out, and I’m sorry if that’s annoying. It’s because it’s hard.
Really, really hard.
But it’s not impossible.