Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Do you suffer from anxiety?

To be honest, growing up I never really though I had an anxiety issue. Maybe it was something I grew into as I got older, or maybe it was a product of the people I had around me, the environments I was in..who knows.

All I know is that I now experience it in waves. Some days, for a couple days in a row - I just won't give a shit about anyone or anything, and I won't worry or over analyze, or get anxious at all. I'll go to a casting, and not even think about it afterwards. I won't think about how I did, if they liked me, if they'll book me, nothing.


Then they are days where I literally wonder if the guy sitting across from me at Starbucks is annoyed at me since I bumped into him by mistake when bringing my drink to the table. I said sorry, but he just gave me a mean look. And see the thing is, if you're not an anxious person you wouldn't sweat that at all. You'd think, "whatever, I said sorry - it was a mistake". But as an anxious person, you might think, "oh shit, I really pissed that guy off, I wonder if I should of been more sincere? how can I undo that? damn I'm such an idiot, why wasn't I just more careful? I don't even wanna go grab a napkin now because I might hit him again..I'm just gonna leave." Yes, that was an actual scenario that happened, and I went to ANOTHER coffee shop to grab a damn napkin just because I didn't wanna pass by that guy again. And it bugged me, made me feel shitty for hours afterwards.

If it happens with random people, you can imagine how much it happens in my life with my friends, family, colleagues. I'm constantly wondering who I've offended, why someone doesn't like me, if I've made someone uncomfortable, if they think I'm stupid...the list goes on. 

When you suffer from anxiety, these seemingly minuscule events become daily problems that linger on until something else takes your attention and makes you forget how crappy you feel. 

It becomes an even bigger problem when there are multiple occurrences in one day. As a model, the likeliness of this happening is really high. We go to maybe 2-4 castings a day on average (sometimes more depending on the season). Well, for a person like me on a bad day, this could really mess me up. On a good day I wouldn't even batt an eyelash about it. But on a day like yesterday, where I felt like the first client didn't like my posing and the second thought I was boring...I overanalyzed the crap out of those instances for EVER. I'm still thinking about it now. "I should have moved around more, showed a better range of movement...they probably thought I was stiff...why was I so posey? They're so not gonna book me...yeah I messed that one up for sure...damnit!" And as for the second one..."damn it they were laughing so much with the girl before me, maybe I didn't talk enough? well they didn't ask much, but still I should have had more personality...why didn't I elaborate more on where I was from, why didn't I mention my recent trip home or something? way to screw up Shivani..." and it goes on and on and on until you feel the crappiest of the crappy. 


Why does it happen every time? Why can't I just let it go? How come some days I'm able to let those thoughts go, and other days I can't stop bashing myself about it? I don't know. I have literally no answers. Anxiety is such a complex problem.

I first really started noticing that it might be something clinical after my first car accident. I mean I've always been a type-A kinda person: overanalyzing, probably a little obsessive compulsive, but I thought for models that was quite normal given that we have such an unpredictable job. But after my first car accident I started having actual attacks while driving, and then all other anxiety became heightened. I used to ask my mum to drive me downtown because I couldn't handle my hands clamming up, my heart racing and every muscle in my body cramping. It was too much. 

Eventually that passed after being forced to drive downtown on my own at times when there wasn't too much traffic. So I'd talk to myself in the car, and calm myself down, learn the streets and slowly relax to the point where I was able to channel those feelings of relaxation every time I got in the car.  

But even though the driving issues have gotten better, the overanalyzing hasn't. The thing is, being a model is so hard because you're not only judged on your work ethic, professionalism, personality etc. You're judged based on HOW YOU LOOK, which you can't really do much to change. And that's the hardest thing, to think a client doesn't like you and there's nothing you can physically do about it. Like I said in my other posts, you just have to think "whatever, on to the next one". But that's so much easier said than done, and there are days when I can't just brush it off. Those are the worst days. 


Thankfully I have amazing agents. It's phenomenal that they aren't annoyed with me  yet. They always calmly tell me to stop worrying, stop overanalyzing, stop trying to control and plan everything in advance. "You can't pick every little thing apart Shivani, you'll never grow, you're a great model - the client could literally want someone who just has a different look than you, it doesn't mean you weren't good enough - maybe you just weren't what they were looking for this time around but that doesn't matter, that's why we have a lot of clients!". 

It's important to have these people around you. Because people with anxiety need constant reassurance. I actually find it helpful to even reassure myself. By writing down these things, talking them out to myself or with others, even leaving myself reminders (usually on post-its) so I don't follow this downward spiral of over-analyzation and self-doubt. 

Why am I telling you this? Well I think sharing is important. And I think especially because I have a job where it looks like we're all super comfortable with ourselves and 100% confident 100% of the time. We're not. I'm writing this so you can see, even though I'm the girl saying "don't doubt yourself", you know that there are times when I doubt myself too. We all do. I've learned a lot from being in this industry, but that doesn't mean I can flawlessly apply all of these things to my life all the time. There are times when I need to go back and read my own advice posts. But we all have those days, especially if you suffer from anxiety.

So I just wanted to make sure I share these kind of experiences as well. It's easy to read all of the great stuff someone posts on their blog, and think they have it all down. I think it's important to share not only your highs but also your lows. That way we can see that we all have good days and bad days. Just because I write "advice" posts on stuff I've learned from this industry, doesn't mean I always remember to take my own advice. You know what I mean? 

What I can tell you is that if you have anxiety, I don't know if we'll ever get rid of it completely. What I do know is that there are parts of it that become bearable, like my driving anxiety. Maybe sometimes there are parts of it we'll consistently be working on, like my daily overanalyzing and self-doubt. But that's what we do as human beings right? We grow. 


So just know that you're not alone. And trust me, I'm not over here sailing through life on a magic carpet of confidence. Some days I fall right off the carpet and plop onto the floor of shitty feelings. But you know what's great about the floor? It grounds you. And then you have a great day, a day like today. Where I lent a guy a pen at the same Starbucks and nothing awkward happened, it was great! The good thing about having these little instances affect you, is that these LITTLE instances can also have an amazingly positive effect on you! How many people can say that? That such a little incident made them feel so nice? I can. Because I overanalyze. Today I also had a great casting, and I also had my agent tell me to stop overanalyzing (the result of a previous freakout email), because I'm good at my job. 

Believe those reassurances. It may take a little more work for us than for people who don't have anxiety, but we'll get there. We just have to remind ourselves every now and again. 

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