How Generalized Anxiety Disorder Makes Me a Better Person

How generalized anxiety disorder makes me a better personGeneralized anxiety disorder is a psychological disorder characterized by “excessive or disproportionate anxiety about several aspects of life, such as work, social relationships, or financial matters.” It’s not generally diagnosed as anything other than typical worrying until an individual has experienced extreme worrying every day for at least six months.

I’m somewhere around year 20.

I remember my anxiety kicking in really hard in elementary school. I hated being late; if it looked like I was going to be tardy for school, I would start crying and not want to go at all. I had severe anxiety- and food-triggered stomach aches all through school, and have only in the last couple of years gotten them under some semblance of control.

I’ve written before about the challenges of Generalized anxiety disorder, and how easy it is for me to focus on the negative; in the interest of turning the issue on its head, though, today I started thinking about some of the good stuff that comes from it.

GAD means I’m always on time (if not early)

Remember the “I cried if I thought I’d be late” story? Being on time or early diffuses this anxiety, so I’m always right where I or my calendar says I’m going to be.

I leave early enough to arrive at doctor’s appointments, client meetings, movies, the airport, and lunch dates with plenty of time to spare.

GAD means I’m always prepared

Kind of like the Boy Scouts. I’ve always got a Plan A and Plan B (and maybe Plan C).

Relatives or friends coming into town? I’ve got a list of fun things we can do. Meeting this afternoon? I’ve got a recorder so it’s easier to revisit the conversation later. Need to do three errands? I can tell you the most efficient route to travel so they get done faster.

GAD means I listen twice as much as I speak

Paralyzing fear of saying something stupid means I keep my mouth shut, giving me plenty of opportunity to listen. That’s invaluable when it comes to conversations, arguments, meetings, and any other kind of communication.

GAD means I spot problems early

My tendency to point out flaws in a plan has likely annoyed my co-workers and friends on more than one occasion (think Debbie Downer of SNL fame).

Let’s make a change to the marketing campaign! But we didn’t estimate our budget based on that. I hear that new restaurant is great! I heard they got temporarily shut down for health code violations.

This tendency can indeed be a downer, but it also means that I’m not often unaware of the potential negative consequences of a given decision, especially when it comes to my job. Foresight in marketing is critical, and it’s easy to blow budgets or situations if you don’t come at them from all angles — even the downer ones.

GAD means I never pay bills late

Know how many times I’ve missed paying a bill of any kind? Twice. In my entire life (knock wood). Missing a payment makes me anxious, so I’ve turned my Google calendar into a reminder machine.

I’ve got notifications set up for paying my credit card bill, rent, Netflix bill, and even yearly plans for adding money to my savings account.

GAD means I always try my hardest

In my chemically off-balance brain, failure of any kind is unacceptable. I do everything I can to avoid it, which means that you’ll never catch me slacking. On anything. Except maybe cleaning.

GAD means I don’t let the little things slide

This means that problems get solved pretty much immediately. I dust the dirty coffee table now, I pick up that pile of stuff now, I make the bed now, I email the client now.

This contributes nicely to my editing skills. I catch the little stuff (a comma instead of a semicolon or period, bullet points with inconsistent punctuation, missing closing parenthesis, etc.) that sometimes others don’t, or are willing to ignore. This improves both my writing and the writing of clients and co-workers.

GAD means I rarely make the same mistake twice

Mistakes are abhorrent to me, and I tend to learn from them quickly.

Forgot to add labor into that estimate last time? Never again. Parked under that tree and now my car is covered in bird crap? Park somewhere else. Poked fun at a friend on a sensitive topic? Seek forgiveness and never speak of it.

This comes in most handy at work (where I’m anxious to do well and not disappoint) and when it comes to my health (skipping weekly yoga is a terrible idea).

Learning to deal

No one wants to feel like they’re crazy. I wasn’t thrilled about the idea of medication (which made me feel like garbage and so I’m med-free now), and sure as shit didn’t want some official diagnosis following me around for the rest of my life.

In the end, though, becoming “official” was a blessing. CBT is helping me find ways to get and keep myself under control, and I’m learning to accept myself as-is and use my anxiety against itself.

Anxiety; it isn’t for the faint of heart, but at least I’m trying to look at in a positive way.

 

The Best Advice I Ever Got

The best advice I ever gotI’ve collected a lot of advice over the years, thanks to some smart friends and family. Here’s some of my favorite gems that I try following on a daily basis.

A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.

My mother raised me mostly on her own, and always set the perfect example of an independent woman. It wasn’t until high school that I heard this exact quote somewhere, but as soon as I did I recognized it as a lesson my mom had been teaching me since childhood.

I’ve always done my best to remember that it’s great to have someone to share your life with, but that it’s possible — and important — to remain an independent person.

When someone offers you advice, smile and thank them. Then do what you were going to do regardless.

Advice my dad gave me sometime in high school. We don’t always see eye-to-eye, so this is a reminder to hear his advice graciously, but follow my own path if it diverges from his suggestion. Handy in all situations, not just with fathers and daughters who are more alike than either cares to admit.

Less whining, more writing.

My work mantra. My way of powering through writer’s block and hesitancy and just write.

If you are the smartest person in the room, then you are in the wrong room.

The day you stop learning and growing is the day you start dying — surround yourself with people who are smarter than you, and learn from them.

You are never too much; you are never not enough.

A tough one to internalize. I always worry that I’m too anxious, too controlling, not a good enough wife, friend, or employee. I’m not saying that I don’t want to learn to let go of control, or try being a better wife — but this sentence lets me know that I’m perfectly fine as I am.

The essence of telling a great story is telling about one’s failures.

The most recent addition to my list of favorite pieces of advice. I haven’t had a chance to put this to use yet, but something tells me it’s important to have around, just in case.

Find the good and praise it.

In myself and others.

Do something every day that scares you. If the prospect of doing something intimidates you, it’s likely a sign you should do it.

Pretty much every new experience scares or intimidates me, so for the last year or so I’ve been purposefully trying new things, hoping to get over my own trepidations. It hasn’t altered my life in any major way, but at least I’m finding myself a little more open and positive about new experiences.

If you don’t like a book, stop reading it.

One of the hardest things for many Bookish people to do — what if you give up just before it gets good?

When I get 50 – 100 pages into a book and I’m just not feeling it, I have to remind myself that there are too many other books out there to waste time on something I’m not enjoying.

As a result of this mental shift I no longer feel obligated to try reading a book I don’t think I’ll like, or muscle through a book I’ve started and hate or am bored by. My DNF rate has gone up, but so has my enjoyment of reading. Worth it.

Your turn. What’s the best advice you ever got?

Mini Movie Reviews

Best Friend and I have been watching a lot of Netflix recently — mostly because we’re Grumpy Old People who don’t like going out. I shared some of our/my favorite television series a couple weeks ago, and now I wanted to share a little about the feature films we’ve watched recently.

Conan the DestroyerConan the Destroyer Don’t you judge me! I watched bits and pieces of this as a kid, but hadn’t seen it all the way through in a single sitting until this year. And man is it terrible! Awful script and even worse acting. Halfway through the movie Best Friend pointed out that you could make it a cheesy porn flick without a single line change. It’s so true.

 

 

Stargate original filmStargate I knew of the existence of the Stargate: SG-1 series, but wasn’t aware that the entire world started with 1994’s Stargate, starring the oh-so-delicious James Spader. A little flat and fairly predictable, but an intriguing introduction to a world of which I’d like to see more.

 

 

 

Paradise filmParadise Right on the heels of Rock of Ages, this film (directed by Diablo Cody) features Julianne Hough as a scarred, bitter former uber-conservative Christian girl who heads to Vegas to experience all the “sins” formerly denied her. Has its moments, but in the end felt a little too harsh toward Christians (and that’s coming from me!)

 

 

Craig Ferguson: I'm Here to HelpCraig Ferguson: I’m Here to Help Not a movie, but definitely worth watching. Ferguson is one of the funniest stand up comedians I’ve ever heard — NSFW, of course, but so much fun!

 

 

What are you watching on Netflix these days?

3 Reasons You’re Not Getting That Internship

3 reasons you're not getting that internshipIt’s been a year since my company formalized our internship program, and in that time I’ve looked through hundreds of student resumes and interviewed dozens of applicants. We’ve had fantastic interns, but to find them I’ve had to sift through some pretty scary resumes.

So students, wondering about the reason why you were turned down for that internship? I can give you three.

1. You didn’t actually read the description

My company’s intern program page has all kinds of great info about the program, what kind of internships we offer, etc. It also clearly states:

You must be living in the San Antonio, Texas area (when not in school).

It’s amazing how many resumes I receive from students who not only don’t live in San Antonio, but also don’t live in the state of Texas, or even in the country.

Reading comprehension and the ability to follow instructions are a fundamental part of almost every job (and certainly of those in the web design and marketing industries).

If it’s obvious that you haven’t read the description of the position for which you are applying, no company is going to trust you to be able to handle being part of their team.

Bonus: You’re doing a “spray and pray”

I’ve received resumes from people interested in accounting and architecture positions, neither of which have anything to do with the internships we offer.

Don’t just go on auto-pilot and send your resume to every job or intern position you come across. Read the damn description and don’t apply to things that are completely unrelated to your chosen field; it wastes companies’ time and makes you look like an idiot.

2. Your resume is awful

By this I don’t mean, “You don’t have relevant job experience,” which is obviously a difficult thing for a college student to have. I mean elementary things that are just dumb.

Emoticons? Seriously?

Emoticons belong in text messages, not on your resume. Your tone should be professional and fact-based. My own resume is pretty lame, but even as a college student I never had to be told not to use smiley and winky faces in a professional document.

Microsoft Word is no longer a qualifying skill

The ability to type, save, and print a Microsoft Word document is no longer considered an “exceptional” skill — it’s like listing “Ability to read and write.” Take this off your resume right now.

Two words: spell check

In February I was handed a resume by an International Business major working toward his MBA, and within 10 seconds had found four typos — he had misspelled both his major and the name of his university.

In February I was handed a resume by an International Business major working toward his MBA, and within 10 seconds had found four typos — he had misspelled both his major and the name of his university.

If you’re writing your resume on a computer — which you should be — any program you use will have a built-in spell check program. That squiggly red line underneath a word means the program has probably spotted a typo.

But don’t completely rely on your computer to find errors. Double-check your resume yourself, and have several other people proofread it, too.

There is zero excuse for spelling errors on your resume.

3. You don’t respond to emails

You’ve succeeded in sending out a resume that is emoticon- and error-free. Awesome!

But what happens when I email you requesting portfolio pieces, or to check your availability for a phone interview…and I never hear back?

People in charge of hiring don’t have time to circle back to (or even remember) applicants who are unresponsive to follow-ups. If you don’t get back in touch, we’ll forget about you and move on to having conversations with those capable of responding when contacted.

Set an “away” message on your email if you’re going to be unable to access it during a time when it’s likely an employer may contact you about your application. In a pinch a short email with, “I’ve received this email, but can’t access my portfolio from where I am. I will send it to you as soon as I’m home tomorrow” can be a good idea.

If you’re contacted by an employer in whose internship you are no longer interested, don’t just ignore them. Be a grown-up and let them know.

Make it hard for me to cut you

As someone who’s responsible for hiring interns, it’s my job to separate the wheat from the chaff, to make sure I’m not wasting my time — or my boss’ — on applicants who are clearly not qualified.

I see dozens of resumes, and am looking for the slightest reason to cut people from the applicant pool — the owners of bad resumes are the first on the chopping block.

On the other hand, having good communication skills and a solid resume are the first steps in the right direction, and make it harder for me to justify bumping you from the list without talking with you first.

See where I’m going with this?

3 ways to better your odds

Many applicants to my company’s internship program ask me what we’re looking for in an ideal intern. Skills are important, of course, but just as important is motivation and passion. We want people who are willing to go the extra mile and exceed expectations.

Use available school resources

Many universities and colleges have Career Services departments where students can go for help with resume writing, mock interviews, and other helpful resources. Utilize those!

If you’re not in school or your school’s Career Services department is lacking, head to the web. Read up on resume writing techniques, conduct practice interviews with friends. Ask your parents if they know anyone who can give you tips.

Learn on your own time

You might be majoring in same field as the internships for which you’re vying, but school can’t teach you everything you need to know — some things you can only learn on your own.

Read books and blogs related to your chosen field. Find a description of your ideal job, see what skills are needed, and get to work learning them.

Surf the web for free tutorials and other resources, take extra classes, be willing to go that extra mile.

If you’re not willing to do this — if you’re not passionate about the position you’re going for — perhaps it’s time to consider a different vocation.

Find a mentor

Look for someone in your chosen industry who you feel is great at what they do, and is close enough to you geographically to network with in person.

Connect with them on LinkedIn, comment on their status updates and company blog, message back and forth. Establish a relationship, then invite them for a cup of coffee and ask to pick their brain about what you can be doing to better your chances of succeeding in the industry.

There are lots of great business people out there who would love to share their knowledge — it’s your job to find them.

Clean up your resume, make an effort to learn more on your own, and go forth and intern!

Pinning Bookishly

I’m more than halfway through the 19 scheduled interviews for summer interns at my office, and my brain feels like it’s the consistency of banana pudding. I can’t really concentrate on words at the moment, so I’m indulging my visual side by spending innumerable hours on Pinterest. Good news is there’s plenty of bookish stuff to look at!

Bookish quote

I had this exact problem yesterday when I realized that I had less than a chapter in my current read, and so I brought two tomes to work for my lunch reading.

Read for pleasure, Grant Snider
Ooh la la!

Comic about books
It’s like this artist — Rae — has been hanging out in my ceiling, watching me read.

Shadow of the Wind
From Zafón’s excellent novel, The Shadow of the Wind.

Hermione Granger
Just. Perfect.

I’m on Pinterest almost every day — swing by for a visit and I’ll give you a follow back!

What have you been pinning recently?