Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Good Nervous

Being nervous comes with all kinds of connotations.

- Not prepared
- Inexperienced
- Not good enough 

We’ve heard them all or have convinced ourselves that those are reasons for our anxiety. Those may be valid but not always. What if instead we looked at nervousness differently and actually sought out ‘good’ nervous situations. The ones that scare us but we know we need to do. The ones we know will make us better.

When I think of these good nervous situations, many come to mind for me - joining Delta Chi in university, moving to Belgium, co-hosting the Gridiron Show. Those are all examples. I was freaked out by each but something pushed me through that nervousness knowing the doors the experience would open would be amazing. Without fail that happened in each case. Delta Chi gave me an incredible chance to learn outside the classroom while introducing me to some of the closest friends in my life. Moving to Belgium taught me I can live elsewhere and it has given me subsequent amazing international sports opportunities. Putting in my audition for the Gridiron Show forced me to challenge my introversion to see how far I could take my broadcasting experience. And though co-hosting it a couple times hasn’t yet landed me a spot replacing Jay Onrait or Dan O’Toole on TSN, I can dream!

The point too often is we (and specifically I) see the nervousness as a wall. Instead it should be seen as a compass. It’s a compass that guides to things that truly matter to us and relate to a passion. Are we nervous because we’re unnecessarily paranoid about something and we’re creating anxiety? Or are we nervous because we care and we know this situation matters deeply to us? Is it a nervousness that can incite change? Making that distinction is key.

It takes some time but you can identify the difference between a ‘good’ nervous and a pointless one. A bad nervous is one you can’t explain. It’s just there and provides nothing of value. It stalls and limits you. A good nervous is the one where you feel like something’s pushing you through the anxiety to things you know deep down really matter. That’s when being really nervous can be really fun.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

My Voice

One year ago I made a decision to speak up. People that know me understand that I don’t do this a lot (unless you get me talking sports, then I might). Speaking up in this sense was to reveal something I wasn’t really sure I wanted revealed. It was to expose something that I didn’t, and frankly still don’t, understand. It was to divulge that I’d suffered through bouts of depression. It was to highlight the fact that I didn’t have answers and that I essentially needed help.  For a proud, often stubborn, and introverted person, speaking up isn’t easy to do at the best of times let alone when talking about depression. Despite the fears I had as I typed on this very same keyboard, it was one of the best things I ever did.

Even at the time of writing in February 2012 I was starting to feel better. The fall really hadn’t been great, for no particular reason but my feelings were improving. As much as I couldn’t comprehend the reasons for my depression I also didn’t have a sense for why it was better. It simply was. I’m pleased to report that a year later those more positive emotions have continued. My circumstances haven’t dramatically changed from a year ago. The blessed life I led then mixed with regular challenges is still in place today but the perspective I have on myself is obviously improved because I feel better now than I have in ages.

People ask me what’s different that’s allowed me to feel right and to be honest I don’t have a great answer. All I can point to is that now I talk. Communicating fears, dreams, anxieties, hopes, cares and values to people has made an incredible impact on me. I get to hear myself say them and I have someone who’ll listen. Believing that such a simple act could make a huge improvement didn’t previously enter into my mind. Now I realize it to be crucial. For me it includes talking to family, friends, my coach and colleagues who have all been incredible supports for me. I go out of my way now to start the conversations rather than wait for them to come to me. I also write and journal regularly. Writing has been most amazing to me as I’m more easily able to get to the core of what’s bothering or exciting me by putting thoughts to paper.

I’m not na├»ve in all of this. Depression could very well return. It may not be for awhile and may only be brief but I’m aware of this likelihood. Admittedly this makes me anxious at the times when I’m not feeling well wondering if this is the point where the spiral starts anew. Despite what may come, I’ve discovered a tool that can help slow, limit or combat those dreadful feelings in my head…my voice.