For a long time I adopted the ‘fake it till you make it’ approach to aspects of my mental health. It’s by no means a foolproof solution but it has got me through some difficult moments. It has allowed me to seem more confident than I often am and that in itself can make it easier to succeed. It definitely helps that I believe in Cards or Die passionately. I can look at any event and genuinely think ‘You know what would make this better? Board games. Lots of them.’
My most recent anxiety has centred around striking a balance between following up leads and pestering people. I look back on my first round of making contact with potential customers and feel that it was easy, nothing to worry about. Yet, when I give it proper consideration, I know that before I made those contacts I was just as anxious.
I find I am locked in a battle with myself. Again. I ought to know from my previous experience that people aren’t that scary. But it’s easy to forget that when you’re about to start pestering them to pay you to do a thing that they may never have realised they needed! And even easier when the anxiety in your brain is greedily licking its tentacles and waiting to ensnare you.
For some these sorts of worries can be countered by a simple internal dialogue:
You: What’s the worst that could happen?
Also you: They say no.
You: There, that’s no big deal is it?
But with my anxiety these internal dialogues often play out very differently.
Me: What’s the worst that could happen?
Me: They say no.
Me: There, that’s…
Me: (interrupting) and then they get angry and yell at me about wasting their time and how it’s a ridiculous idea that will never work
Me: And then they pick up the nearest blunt object and I try to run but the door’s locked…
And so it goes on. You get the picture. I’m mental. And not always in a fun way.
In the end I have risked the wrath of potential customers. Some people said yes, some said no, no-one attacked me with a blunt object for daring to ask them if they’d like to book me to run board games at their event. Even the ‘no’s have been pleasant encounters – some of them thank me for approaching them, lots of people have wished me luck and said what a great idea it is.
So, having fought and maimed this air drawn demon, I then had to face the horror that is follow up contact. As I’ve said past experience alone isn’t enough to placate this creature. It is concerned only with reinforcing negatives and doesn’t allow me to celebrate success for long. But, I drew myself up to my full height and readied myself for battle once more. And, guess what? It turns out that if people have already expressed an interest in booking you they don’t mind you getting in touch. Some of them even thank you- because people are busy and they sometimes just genuinely forget. Hopefully by recording this, in some way I can encourage my brain to remember this for the next phase.
I am adept at finding things to worry about and embarking on a new business has given ‘it’ plenty of opportunities to surface. It can be exhausting. But, at the moment I am at a really good positive point. I have contacted strangers, chased them up and they’ve booked me!
Why am I sharing this with you? Because if, like me, you’re a bit loopy then next time your brain helpfully kick starts a plethora of worst case scenarios which usually end in a world where cockroaches are the master race, you’ve just got a bit more ammo. You can tell it ‘Hang on- that crazy board games nerd managed it. So can I.’
And if this struggle is not something you regularly endure, then I’m glad. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed reading a little tale of moderate success in a big, scary world.