on lies i told recently
tldr; i hate school games. i lied to get out of playing (twice). i have shame gremlins around knowledge and ability. by confronting the truth, i shed a whole lot of light on my truth.
randy is pulsing, dully but loudly in my left leg as i type even the title of this post; because we know each other really well, this is the, 'you're anxious because you've got something to process' battle cry. maybe his volume will be the new vulnerability gauge for my pieces? i kid, i kid (kinda ;) ). but, in keeping my most sacred promise to you, my precious and adored reader, i strive to always lead with honesty and authenticity: the truth & my truth. that said, i have to share about the last two times i lied.
the first time was two weeks ago and the second was today. the scenario was the same. the reason was the same. the outcome was different. here it is:
I LEFT A ZOOM MEETING (FOR MY JOB) AND SAID I HAD TO GET BACK TO MY OTHER JOB (even though i didn't)...BECAUSE WE WERE ABOUT TO PLAY A GAME'. *instant lightening. woah*.
ok, let me explain. this may cause some confusion because i know this sounds super fun for some of you, i get it. you might even think, 'hilary, i've played games with you. it's not that bad'. well, friend, with my witchery i seemed to have fooled you at a time i didn't have a viable escape. it's actually agony. so let's be really honest here - there are two types of people. the people who like, love, or at the very least will agree to play charades...and the people who got a spark of anxiety by just reading the name of the game in the first part of this sentence. am i wrong? i am not wrong. so utter shocker, i fall into the latter group. I HATE games - especially 'performance' or 'theater' games. but for the purpose of our time here together today, we're talking about a variation of a performance game: the 'school game' (people who like 'school games' also like charades...just to be clear).
pause: randy is a bit louder now and more often than not, i know exactly why. i am about to out myself in the name of processing an internal conflict and naming a trigger. folks who were in that meeting today and the one two weeks ago may read this and my cover, albeit not super solid to begin with, is blown.
resume: 'school games'. you know, the ones where you are supposed to learn material (read: flaunt what you know) by being tested in front of all your peers? some THRIVE in this competition pressure cooker...but some shrink and shrivel. i absolutely loathe being put on the spot and shudder at even the thought of being called on at random ...like, come on, man, i didn't raise my hand for a reason; let my live my quiet, this-sure-as-fuck-isn't-the-way-i-learn-but-it-doesn't-mean-i'm-not-listening life in peace if i need to, ok?
i've felt this strong aversion to 'school games' from middle school all the way through college. and now, at almost 34 years old, a grown woman who chooses her situations, who 'power of no's' her way through ALL shit that doesn't serve like a champion has found herself somehow stuck on a horrific (and falsely advertised, i might add) zoom call where she's being told we're about to play... 'continuing education jeopardy'. again. what.the.actual.fuck. this curve ball spiraled quickly. i didn't have a lot of time, but i was not with out choices. i quickly reviewed my decision from the last meeting: i lied and i left. i had the same options as before but two weeks worth of analyzing reasoning under my belt:
option 1) stay. mute myself. pretend i cannot unmute myself. show myself out (highly believable. i'm terrible with technology).
option 2) irish goodbye. claim wifi difficulties later. no one can argue with this.
option 3) stay. attempt to play while risking an anxiety attack that could potentially (and most likely) manifest as physical pain in my neck, back, and legs and last anywhere from 24 hrs to 4 days.
option 4) stay. win the fucking game. beat anxiety. become a genius hero.
option 5) leave. message the group, "hey guys! this game gives me extreme anxiety and i'm going to listen to my mind and body and call it. good luck to all that play - you're all winners in my book!".
option 6) leave. message the group, "have to get back to work! bye guys!" like the liar that i am.
i had about 60 seconds so i'm actually pretty thrilled with the fact that i weighed all of these options under such a time crunch #celebrateallwins. and while i'd love to tell you i landed on option 4 or 5, (actual LOL) we all know that's not how this story plays out. so as i typed my lie to the group for the second time, i thought about the real reason i was leaving. i, of course had had 2 weeks to ruminate on this since the first time and remember, i'm a meaning maker. i love to dive into my brain and question thoughts, feelings, and actions. i came to this conclusion: hating games and feeling anxious is a large part of why i left both times, yes. but deep down at the root, it's much bigger and stronger than that. some may resonate with its contemporary moniker, imposter syndrome but we all know it's the same two headed monster behind the mask: shame & fear - a dynamic duo who set the stage for the following thoughts:
*if i leave, i'm a coward. if i stay, i'm a coward. i'm not smart enough. i'm not as good as the rest of the team. what if i say the wrong thing and i'm humiliated in front of everyone? what if i fail? i'm not good at my job. what if everyone finds out i don't know what i'm talking about?*
there it is. the truth is: i hate school games. my truth is: 'school games' are a major shame trigger for me.
i think i've aways known this but haven't been able to quite articulate it until i started really paying attention and giving myself permission to be vulnerable around a tough-to-admit topic. although i got amazing grades in high school, have a college degree, and push myself to continue learning in fields that interest me, i have shame around education, knowledge, ability, and adequacy. certain situations, like games or tests, light. it. up (flashback to the time i studied for 4 months for the CPT and then recovered for 4 months from the anxiety that built up inside of me. all signs point to the same conclusion). brené brown calls these triggers 'shame gremlins' in her book, 'the gifts of imperfection'. she says she chose 'gremlins' because when the light comes in, when shame is named and talked about and processed, it can't survive; it needs darkness and solitude to thrive. this admission is the light i can shine on a nasty gremlin that has lived inside of me for a long time. the first step towards growth is always asking questions, listening up, honoring, and leaning in. and i may not have any more answers than that right now and i probably will never like games or find joy in taking tests and that's ok. the short term goal is rarely focused on a successful 180 degree shift. rather, working to understand, accept, and maybe a pivot (#PIVOT) in time.
shining that light is perfect for today.