Stopping the panic

I was talking to my Project Manager today and I realise just how much I’m handling and it all kinda fell apart on me. I will be honest and admit that I have been procrastinating on the things I should be doing at work and it’s not like I don’t like what I’m doing.

It’s that I feel like I am doing too much.

I know of a lot of people who are envious of me and my job description. After all, my job is to basically stay on social media. It’s not that glamourous nor easy of a job. A social media person needs to do quite a lot of things, which on the surface may seem like something that doesn’t take up too much time:

  • Doing messaging calendars which mean scheduling messages in advance and/or getting client’s approval
  • Getting other people to do your graphics
  • Responding to users about your client’s brand
  • Thinking up of ideas to get people to buy into your client’s message and branding
  • Play/do things on FB like check out links etc

I am going to whine here, so stop reading if you don’t want to read anything depressing or self-entitled. Yes I am aware I am being an attention whore, but this is my own blog after all and I think I should be able to whine.

I currently handle more than 5 different client pages. All of them have different interests. Some are market leaders, others are well-known brands. The biggest issue I have with all of them is finding and crafting content that’s engaging, worth sharing, and builds my client’s brands and customer base. The reason for this is quite simple: It’s not that the content is not there. It’s the finding and the crafting. These pages all have different tones and focus; the messaging presentation may be the same, but the ideas are not. And having your thoughts veer into 5 different directions at one go is horrendous.

This realisation came when I was coming back from a client meeting with a project manager. I told her I wanted to let some of the projects go and she immediately began giving me suggestions on how I could manage my work. While I was listening to her, I actually felt like telling her, “If it sounds so easy why don’t you do it?” I know I felt very defensive and whiny while we talked; and I hated the feeling that I wasn’t measuring up to expectations.

And the feelings of being overwhelmed just kept getting built up. Within the spaces of those few hours, even though I had done some small tasks, I felt like I was about to fail, about to fall, and it was getting to the point that I thought I might just want to scream at someone and walk through the glass windows and just fall. The sense of isolation and being constrained by my own inadequacy and anger and general helplessness was just kind of overwhelming. Did I mention guilt? Cause that was there too.

You know how it feels when there’s a strong pressure on your shoulders and you feel like hunching down under the table, hiding and wishing the world would go away and your responsibilities resolve themselves and your heart feels like it’s being squished slowly and that the world is grey instead of colours etc?

Well, that was me a few hours ago yesterday.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to Google or what I should tell myself, but then I remembered the uke himself had had a similar case recently. So I asked him and he sent me an email that had gotten through his worst days. You see, the issue wasn’t really that I am bad at my job (I feel I am, but I also think I have imposter syndrome, so that is a topic for another day), but that I was feeling overwhelmed.

And the first thing that jumped out in the email he sent to me was:

panicking about it only waste the valuable time that you have left” and “You can go for the important task first but its not going be much of a help when you are already in panic mode.

This calmed me down quite a bit and I was then able to continue with my large task after I looked at a smaller task. Then I allowed myself to read the rest of the email properly, and this line popped up:

“Fail them, it is ok. If you are already at the stage of a nervous breakdown then there is nothing else to lose, just push yourself to the max on completing whatever you can complete.”

Which is what I did. I went home feeling a bit more calmer and saner. It also helped that I was able to pinpoint what it was exactly that had set me off. Besides the arrival of the red tide, part of it was also the unspoken expectation I had that I wanted to be someone like my senior; a person who was very dependable and committed to her job. However, I’m beginning to realise on a rational level that I can’t be like her. She has different motivations and goals in her life than mine. Her path is not mine.

So this side trip has been interesting, but it is not for me. The question is now, what do I do about it?