Tuesday, 27 March 2012
I’ve always been an introvert, and painfully shy in social situations, or when meeting new people. Afraid of coming across as a bit of a dickhead and generally lacking in the social graces even when I have stepped outside of myself and spoken up, I’ve ended up over analysing it afterward and cursing myself for being such a fool.
I’m told I was always pretty much like this; ‘never’ cried as a baby, never fussed in the supermarket or was particularly naughty. I always was happy by myself, playing in my room or with my head in a book. And being raised in an environment that can be best described as one of benign neglect I thrived academically but did little else.
When I was 14 we moved to Wiltshire and I started a new school. My parents’ marriage disintegrated within a year and neglect went from benign to virtually total. A combination of no parental guidance, peer pressure and raging adolescent hormones – plus a slow emergence into a not at all bad looking youth – set the scene for some uncharacteristic naughtiness. I made friends who have been my friends for 20 years, had thoroughly good adventures and made a point of pretty much saying yes to everything whilst also keeping enough of a head to maintain my academic credentials.
In the end no matter how much I drank, what else I took, how often the police brought me home or whether or not the injunction banning me from all National Trust land is still in force, none of it changed who I am. But the experiences that I had and the people I was with made me begin to appreciate who that person could be.
Soon, gentle reader, I will have been in sunny Strumpetville half my life. I have had a successful career to date, and this blog relates well enough another journey I have made. Yet in what should very much be a well-earned summer of my life, I find myself yet again pondering why I am virtually crippled by an appalling lack of self-confidence.
I am an introvert, still, and that is no bad thing, although the modern world is all about those with personality and not us keepers of the unlovablevirtues. Fella understands I have the space and time I need to read my books, tend my garden…
Still, the issue harms our relationship. How can he be happy or fulfilled being with someone like me? I do keep testing or challenging his sincerity and I worry one day the shine will come off. That is my biggest fear. But also I find it difficult to consider going for a promotion – what have I achieved? Am I really worth promoting?
In an effort to tackle what I perceive to be a very risky and fragile state I have been casting about for some self-help resources. One book I have been reading recently in particular has been quite useful. It’s named “What’s Stopping You” by Robert Kelsey, and man who describes himself as having overcome some of the same issues I describe. It’s a good primer for books like “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” so is worth reading for that. But also he does seem to have the measure of me!
In his book he describes me and those like me as “High Fear of Failure” and we manifest this by setting impossible goals so it doesn’t really matter if we don’t reach them; and how we avoid going into situations, social or otherwise, because we don’t recognise that we all fail a lot of times and in many respects that is a positive learning experience too.
The book also expands on the helpful “where will you be in five years’ time” angle by exploring how those goals can be broken down into the tasks needed to get achieve them; getting started on those tasks; and - ultimately – what’s stopping you?
I don’t like the “blame the parents” excuse. Nor do I think a book is the answer to what ails me. I do know, however, I need to man-up and confront these issues because cute they may be in a teenager, they lack a certain charm in a man approaching (in a few years yet) middle age.