I’ll be honest, I’m a bit of a people pleaser. Which is ironic because, as someone I’m close to said recently, because I’m a lot of things that many people aren’t pleased with. I’m queer, non-binary, and autistic . And I’m loud about it and argue for equal treatment of people. Being me has created a lot of conflicting trauma responses to challenging situations and that was on display very prominently recently.
Because of this daily juxtaposition that is my brain, I often find myself stuck somewhere in the middle of confidence and poor self-esteem. Knowing I’m good at what I do, but worried about what other people think. I’ve been putting other’s people’s expectation and needs before my own. Which led me to the last month, which resulted in some of my lowest points mentally in recent memory. Normally I don’t deal with depression for extended periods of times. For me, depression would appear once or twice a year, if that, for maybe a few days and then fly off. It was like a flu: normal, natural, not anything to really worry about. Just something a body goes through periodically as part of a rhythm. The last two months was the first time I was worried. Depression is supposed to be genetic in my family and I was worried this depression was going to be something I couldn’t shake off.
There were a lot of elements that played into why the depression happened that I won’t get to deep into right now. What you need to worry about is that the depression and recognizing how bad it could become gave me the push to make a change, leave the company I was at and learn to trust myself.
Once I made that decision I started yo-yoing back and forth between depression and anxiety lows to extreme highs. It was quite the rollercoaster ride over the past few weeks. And during that ride I had to make a lot of choices. I went applying to jobs for 5 months to landing two job offers in a week, both of which seemed to really value me, but were complete opposites in what they would add to my life.
The first was part-time, semi-remote which would allow me to have more energy to freelance, work on my own projects and just focus on me. It also allowed me to be the digital jack-of-all-trades that I enjoy being. Money-wise thought, if I only worked the bare minimum of my hours, and found no freelance work to fill the gap, I was going to have maybe $50 in a my pocket after paying for all the necessities, health insurance and student loans.
The second job was much more secure. Full-time with health insurance and an interesting team and product to work on. But it had very restrictive hours compared to first job and would require being on site every day to sit at a computer and do a task over and over again. It was still in my field and if they first job hadn’t been available I would have taken the second in a heartbeat just to move on from where I was at the time.
The worried, people-pleasing part of my brain wanted to do both. I didn’t want to let either person who interviewed me down, I’d figure it out. It would take a toll on my body, driving over 16+ hours a week and having no free time, but no one would feel bad. The logical part of my brain, aided by a therapist and great friends, realized that I’d just be jumping back into a similar situation to what I was already in. But…full-time is safety, right? Someone having control of your schedule takes away a level of responsibility, and if you don’t trust yourself it’s very useful. to just have someone else’s expectations to fall back on. The part-time position required a level of discipline and trust in myself and my own abilities that I was worried I didn’t command because negative self-talk is a horrible thing. Despite everything I know I’ve done in my life to the contrary part of me kept arguing that I couldn’t figure it out, that it wasn’t worth it to try so do both, hedge my bets and wear myself out but “feel safe”, despite my gut saying to take a leap of faith.
It was a rough weekend of self reflection, strong emotions, and another bout of depression before I finally took the leap. I learned to trust my intuition, my choices, my desires and listen to the voice in me that flexibility is good and that I can trust myself to figure it all out and create a life I actually want.