We are approaching this time of the year when we all have these special Family gatherings. It could be Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Celebrations, etc.
As much as I love these special events to bits, a few years ago they used to also get me as nervous as excited. And unfortunately, it wasn’t always great stress. Don’t get me wrong, I have always loved and probably always will love Family reunions/dinners, especially Christmas time.
But as I do suffer from anxiety (and sometimes it hits even harder than other times), having to face every single member of my Family used to make my anxiety level rise instantly.
I used not to understand why, and how to beat it, but the years made me grow confidence and I now get why I would lose my chill every single time.
Where does it comes from?
It’s mostly like it comes from a lack of confidence. I felt like I was “useless” among all these amazing people in my Family. You know, having to answer those typical questions like “How’s life going ?” or “How is school/uni going ?” etc. Add to it that I was depressed, no need to say that I didn’t have anything exciting about my life or my future to talk about (from my point of view), so I felt like I was pointless. And worse than that : I felt like I was a shame in the Family.
Because I had amazing cousins, aunts, uncles, parents around me telling their amazing journeys, and then there was me : nothing to tell them, or nothing I feel they would understand (again, from my point of view). And obviously I would NEVER think of telling them about my depression, especially in this kind of occasion (But here’s why it is so important to always say how you feel).
How did I overcome it ?
Now that I grew into who I am today, I achieved a few things I am proud of (like moving to London, having my own flat, getting a job, basic things like this). And even if I still feel a bit weird talking about my life with my Family, I believe I shouldn’t feel ashamed of who I am, or shall I even say : who I am deciding to be. And I shouldn’t compare myself to my cousins, brother, or anyone else, AT ALL. Whoever has it any other way than me, I am truly happy for them if they are happy. This is not my path, yet I am proud of mine too !
How can you overcome it ?
• First, as I just said, never EVER compare yourself. Now, it’s easier said than done. But, just ask yourself : “Why should I compare myself to them ?” No one has it the same way, there is no better or worse, there is no comparison possible for two different things. And two different people, and lives.
• Your story matters. No matter how much you think it doesn’t. Even if your project is non existent, or at its first steps, or almost done. Even if you feel like someone else is doing better. It sounds cliché yet it is so true : no one is better at being You, than You. Talk about You.
• They are your Family. Even if you feel judged, you are not. Or at least, you are not being judged the way you think you are. They just want updates. They want to know how amazing you are doing, and if you are not doing amazing, it is totally fine, tell them. It will always lead to nice conversations, maybe even nice advices.
• If you feel uncomfortable around your Family, try to ask yourself why first. I used to compare myself a lot to other Family members, so when I was around them, I felt insecure. Once I knew why, I realized it was not objective, and little by little, this fear of “not being enough” slowly faded.
• Talk about it to someone you feel confident talking to, in your Family. That’s what I did, and I couldn’t thank her enough. She made me realize that I had my own place in this Family.
• Be yourself. Again, this is a bit cliché, but there is no way your Family is going to want you any other way than by being Yourself. I remember I used to wear my style of clothes and my style of makeup, yet I felt really embarrassed because not all of them would appreciate it, so I slowly stopped. But stopping made me even more uncomfortable and made me believe even more that I didn’t belong to this dinner. STAY YOURSELF. They might not agree with all of your choices, but… Who cares ? Do you agree with all of theirs ? It will bring nice debates.
• Take part in conversations. I used to feel like “the misfit” and I convinced myself I was, by not talking to anyone at all. I was just sitting there, listening to everyone. Not interacting, not taking part. By acting so, you make yourself feel like you are not supposed to be here, or that no one wants to talk to you. This is not true : you decided not to talk. So, talk, laugh, invite yourself in : No one is going to stop you (and even if they do, keep going !)
• Maybe someone else in your Family feels the same ? If you spot one, go make them feel like they belong to your Family. Because they do. And you do too. (And if you help someone feeling like they belong, you might as well feel like you do too !)
It takes time to grow confidence (More Here), but it doesn’t matter. Go at your own pace, and you will soon feel like you belong. If the feeling persists, don’t forget to reach for help if you feel like you need it.
If I did it, you can do it too.
Feeling part of the Family is essential, especially to enjoy these special moments that shouldn’t be spent in any other ways than with Joy and People who love you. I’m sending you my best Wishes for the end of the year !