Today, I went to my first day of an internship I really shouldn't have taken on. I'm too busy and I was terrified to go because of my social anxiety. I went anyways, so I guess that's something. I left feeling miserable: worn down, defeated, inadequate. I was planning on going a couple time to test things out and then maybe call the whole thing off if it turned out the work wasn't beneficial to my career goals or I was too swamped to do the work. But then I was made to fill out paperwork, I was introduced to everyone, I was told I was the only undergraduate intern the department had ever accepted. Over the course of the day, I realized, "Shit. I think I accidentally committed to this. How can I back out when they're already making an exception for me?"
The day ended up lasting five hours; I thought I was coming in for maybe three. I was on my feet for most of it. I was hungry. I was worried about the midterm I have tomorrow that I needed (need) to study for. I felt like I was in the way, a burden, using up this person's already pressed time. I felt terrible at making small talk, quiet and awkward. I always feel awkward about what subjects are okay to breach with people who are three times my age.
Then a group of women who were graduate students and recent Master's recipients visited and listening to them talk I realized how little I know, how pathetic I must seem, how much work you have to do to make it in any career field. I felt so inferior and discouraged. I felt so trapped. That's how I've been feeling a lot lately: trapped. I don't know if it's the nature of stress or something to do with my personality. Once I started class again, I felt trapped in the knowledge that I have to finish the class and I'm going to be stuck sludging through it the rest of the month, then have no break. I feel trapped in that I've over-committed myself outside of class and I'm at war within myself over whether or not to back out of these different places where I'm volunteering to take care of myself or whether that would be disrespectful and hurt my career chances.
But most of all, I feel trapped by my career choice. I don't know if that's a signal I should pursue something different or if I would just feel trapped no matter what I picked just because I'm afraid of settling down on one choice. Of course, I'm also not actually working in the career, so it's hard to even really know. Then I realize in some moments that I just need to take things one at a time right now; I can't determine my whole career plan now - I don't know what will come up. It's best to keep an open mind. And if the volunteer opportunities I've taken on are weighing on my mind so much that I feel like the world is caving in on me constantly, than maybe the better thing for my career is preventing myself from having another nervous breakdown by quitting those "jobs".
I feel trapped when I think about getting a long-term job. People respond by saying I don't have to stay there long, but I can't shake the feeling of terror over signing that contract. But I'm jumping ahead so much. My job now is to finish school and find a summer internship. Then I just have to take the opportunities as they open up. This pressure to make kids choose a career is sometimes ridiculous; life just happens. I can apply to things and only one door might open up.
And back to the whole feeling inferior thing, I need to realize that I am what I am. I can improve that in small measures, but I can't be so hard on myself that I short-circuit the system.
Your resume is long, but it hasn't gotten you any internships in the past.
I am enough.
You're pretty knowledgeable, but you hardly ever read any more and you could do so much more work in your classes and you don't compare with those women you met today.
I am enough.
You went and talked to a lot of people, but there were so many awkward silences and strange moments and you probably didn't talk enough.
I am enough.
You know, some people your age have started businesses or written books or recorded CDs.
I am enough.
You haven't even dated anyone and a lot of people you know are married. People don't even bother to ask whether or not you're dating someone because they just assume at this point that you're single.
I am enough.
You should really do more meditation or start exercising or do a CBT workbook or something. Your social anxiety is so weird. You aren't good enough because of it. You are so inferior and nobody likes a shy person.
I am enough.
You need to write more music. You need to finish your book. You need to publish more articles. You need to get more friends. You need to find a hobby. You need to be more bold. You need to confront your lame friends. You need to market yourself better. You need to get more readers to this blog. You need to break your bad habits. You need to get to sleep earlier. You need to stop spending so much money. You need to give more to charity. You need to talk to that boy you like. You need to fix all your character flaws. You need to get out more. You need to join a club. You need to meet someone. You need to make sure you meet the right person, but not fixate over whether they're the right person, and be more open to just casual dating. You need to make sure that person doesn't take over your life. You need to wait to meet anyone, actually. You need to figure yourself out first. You need to build self-confidence. You need to find a new psychiatrist. You need to be more honest about your feelings. You need to be more thoughtful about people besides yourself. You need to practice your religion more. You need to decide where you stand on issues. You need to get over people who have hurt you. You need to accomplish things. You need to make a name for yourself. You need to have a plan. You need to network.
I am enough. I am enough. I am enough.
You are enough, friend.
(That was actually a really helpful exercise. I'd recommend it if you find yourself constantly nitpicking your life and what you "ought" to be doing. All these things are weighing on my mind daily and I hadn't really realized it until I unpacked it here. The list is a little scary. I really do need to ease up on myself. And go to sleep.)