Anxiety and the Unknown

I’ve just returned from a three day stint in Sydney for training for my job. And it was one of the worst experiences I’ve had in recent months. But not so much because of the job, or the training. Rather, the reason this trip rates in my top five most awful situations in recent times is because of the sheer level of anxiety that was involved.

I have known I was set to go and do the training from the very first day I worked. It was explained to me in the beginning; two assessments, one done in the shop and one done in Sydney. The shop assessment was piss easy, and I breezed through it like a dream. This time however, the impending assessment felt like a heavy weight chained to my ankles, and it was slowly but surely dragging me down into pits of anxiety and depression. And, like a stone into a pond, it had a ripple affect that stretched to unrelated aspects of my life.

My boss kept telling me ‘you will be fine, I’ve seen your work and it’s good, don’t stress’. Ha, sorry dude but it’s not as easy as that. I had myself worked up in such a state of anxiety that I actually seriously contemplated injuring my right hand so that engraving would be impossible and I would get a stay of execution. Suffice to say, I didn’t go that far but I got pretty close. And the scary thing about it is how seriously that anxiety affected me.

The closer the assessment date got, the more miserable and nervous I became. My sleep became more erratic. My interest in everything waned. I was subsequently overly emotional and I cried enough to fill an ocean. And I kind of took it out on my best friend a bit, and that made me feel even worse. And then the day was here and I could do nothing but board the plane with a growing sense of trepidation, whilst silently wishing something would happen to prevent take-off.

I arrived in Sydney and when I eventually got the the hotel a bit after 9:00 pm, I was so exhausted that I just crashed in the hotel. I didn’t bother with dinner, or even a shower. And when I arrived the next morning, I sat awkwardly at a table with two other guys doing their assessment and said nothing to either of them. The thing was, it was the unknown that had me in such a state of fear and stress. They were sending me to an unfamiliar city, with unfamiliar people, in essentially test conditions. I felt lost without my car to explore, and so I spent my three nights alone in the hotel room with nothing but my homework for company. But once the first day was out of the way, it’s amazing how much better I felt. And though the last three days have been stressful – my job literally relied on me passing thing assessment – once I knew what to expect, and what I was doing, everything became easier.

This is probably the worst experience with anxiety I have ever had. Sure, I get nervous in crowds and meeting new people makes my hands shake, but this was an all encompassing fear that I couldn’t shake, and one that had far reaching effects and consequences. I can honestly say that I’m glad that infernal experience is behind me, and I hope I never have to go through that kind of anxiousness again. For the record, I passed my assessment. The only good thing to come out of the last three days is that I get a pay rise. But at least now it’s over, and I never, ever have to do it again. Ever.

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