I am at home. I didn’t go to the office today. I have a presentation at a potential new customer in the afternoon. It freaks me out nowadays. I go fuckin’ crazy about it. I’ve spent the whole day with meditation and yoga so far, to soothe my nerves. I even gave myself the possibility of canceling it. It is not the first time I have some performance, and I am unbearably nervous because of it. I have several experiences to summarize them now.
Endless, detailed planning doesn’t help. Planning the whole event step by step, thinking about every possible question and answer doesn’t help. It makes no sense at all. It is all about being open and spontaneous sometimes. I can’t prepare for every possible outcome or question, no matter how hard I try. Moreover, planning and thinking about the event increases my fear and nervousness even further. And to be honest, I have prepared for every possible question years before, so I am more than prepared for this presentation today.
Fighting against my negative thoughts and fears doesn’t help. It backfires. It makes them even stronger. Fighting is the very recipe for creating massive problems from little fleeting thoughts and feelings. The only working option I have is embracing my fears, but don’t hold on to them.
The source of my anxieties might be that I want to meet everybody’s expectations. I am definitely afraid of the consequences of failure, of not knowing what to say, of not knowing the answer, of being cornered, of being embarrassed, of being noticeably fearful, of looking stupid and weak. I fear of what they might think of me after that. This gives me even greater obstacles and fears. In reality, these events have far smaller significance than I believe they have. I might die anytime, I might work somewhere else soon, anything can happen. So why bother? What is the importance of today’s presentation in a month or a year?
I was ruminating over this customer meeting the whole day. I decided to not go a thousand times. I wanted to cancel it and stay home. Then I thought okay, but then what? How will I attend the next meeting this week or next week or next month? How will I move on with this memory of today’s fleeing? How? I couldn’t decide if I should push myself further to go or let myself stay at home. Neither choice seemed to be a good one. Finally, I decided to go. I went to that fucking meeting. I had lived horrible waves of anxiety during the day until I finally got there and arrived at the reception of the customer’s building. I used to feel proud satisfaction in such situations, because I was brave enough to face my fears, and went there despite them. But this time I didn’t feel any satisfaction at all. I thought that even if it were going to be a successful presentation, it wouldn’t change the fact that I had a really horrible day. Nothing can be this important to suffer as much as I had been suffering during the day before the meeting.
I was extremely nervous in the beginning, but I could sit still somehow. The questions were raining down on us, but we were able to handle them, myself included. After the first difficulties, I felt more confident. Then, as the time went by, I began to feel horribly tired. Waiting and ruminating all day long exhausted me. I felt like I couldn’t think clearly anymore, I wouldn’t be able to answer another question, all my energy reserves were empty. I answered a few more questions somehow, and it was over. I left the building and headed home by feet. I didn’t feel any relief. I didn’t feel any success. Exhaustion was all I felt. It was not worth it. It was simply not worth it to me.
At home, I ate something at last because I hadn’t been able to eat during the day because of the stress and nervousness. Then I took a rest. The tension in my body started to dissolve, to give space to deep sadness and lethargy. I started feeling the grief again, but I still couldn’t decide who it was for. My father or my girlfriend, I didn’t know. I was overcome by exhaustion and feebleness. I didn’t feel like moving, going anywhere, seeing people, doing sport. But I knew I had to go because my friend was waiting for me to pick me up for our football match.
My depressed mood caught him as well. We didn’t say much during the short trip, we just sat with each other silently. I didn’t feel like playing, I had to force myself to do the warm-up session. A ball came to my way, and it kind of changed everything. It snapped me out of my misery, it cheered me up. I almost forgot how much I love the ball and how much I can thank him. I started moving, dribbling, playing, shooting, and soon everything else in my life just faded into the background. Nothing really mattered beyond the ball. The match was hard and rough. We didn’t play well, although the opponent was definitely weaker than us. We thought we wouldn’t be able to win, but two minutes before the end I scored the winning goal. I shouted from the bottom of my heart and from the deepest tensions in my body. We won the match. After, we stayed there talking a little longer than usual. My friend invited me to have some fast food somewhere. I accepted it. We had a conversation that was more honest than usual. It felt good.
As I arrived home, I ran a bath for myself, lit the candles, put my phone next to the bathtub, and lied down in the tub. I was feeling high. I put on some music on my phone and started singing. The bathroom has a nice acoustics, it increased the experience even further. I almost believed I had a good voice. First I played happy songs, then less happy, finally sad ones unintentionally. The afternoon’s deep sadness came back on me. I still couldn’t see its source clearly, but I didn’t care. I was singing one song after the other, with full power and deep feeling. It was fantastic. The foam melted on the water, the water started to get cold, and my skin began to decay, but I didn’t give a shit, just kept on singing, focusing on the songs, thoughts, and feelings. I felt drunk. I was in a trance. I hardly saw anything around me, just the silhouettes of the bathroom. Then all of a sudden, I heard a song about old memories, and my memories started to emerge in me. My father’s cheap little belongings in the house and on the attic. My tears started to drop, then to flow as wide rivers. My face got all distorted and the things that had been locked up for weeks began to flow out of me. I was sobbing bitterly, painfully, and refreshingly.
I got out of the bathtub, dried myself, and sat on my bed. I thought this is the perfect time to finish my unfinished writings about my father’s death. I took my laptop and started writing. An hour later, when I finished, I started reading it from the beginning of his last week, day by day, hour by hour. Everything became so vivid again from the day of his death. When my mother and brother had arrived at the hospital. When we had said goodbye to him. I was sobbing heavily, and I wanted my tears to keep on flowing. When I re-lived how my mother had said goodbye to him in tears, the laptop fell from my hands, I went down to my knees on the floor, and started howling loudly. I could hardly breathe, I was on the ground in a fetal position. I stayed like this for several minutes, when I felt that my belly contracted, and my dinner started to come up. I was lucky enough to control it, but my I felt the water in my mouth, and I didn’t want to resist what had to come. I went to the bathroom and threw up everything I ate with my friend in the evening. I was relieved and cleansed. I sat there for a few minutes, washed my hands and my mouth, and looked into the mirror. Both my eyes were bloody red, my face weary, my mouth was hanging lifeless, and I was driveling. I seemed suitable for the occasion. I went back to the room and lied down on my bed. I felt like tomorrow might be a better day…