Over the last two summers, I have tried, with very little success (until very recently – post coming about this later), to get a summer job. It’s pretty depressing when you realise that virtually every job advertisement emphasises how social their ideal employee is: “must have excellent communication skills”, “must have excellent customer service skills”, “must be able to easily build a rapport with other people”, as well as the fact that many also emphasise how upbeat and confident applicants should be as well. This means that there is a very limited number of jobs that I feel I can actually apply for, and even doing the jobs I do apply for would put me very far out of my comfort zone. All this emphasis on social ability and optimism leads me to fear that I will never be able to hold down a full-time job after university is over.
After no luck whatsoever at first, I was invited to my first ever proper job interview back in May. As with my interview at university, I prepared thoroughly for it, trying to think of everything I could possibly be asked and come up with good answers. The anxiety I felt was terrible, but not quite as terrible as I thought it would be. I took a beta-blocker beforehand, which helped a lot. I hate the overwhelming painful feeling of dread that always builds in the pit of my stomach – as if I’ve swallowed a hedgehog – as I get closer and closer to having to do one of my major social or performance fears.
I had been told that it would be a panel interview (which put my anxiety through the roof) but was quite relieved to find out when I got there that I was only going to be interviewed by one person. As usual, the interview wasn’t as bad as I had been building it up to be in my mind. I managed to answer all the questions without my mind going blank this time, though I felt that my eye contact could have been better. I performed about as well as I could have done, given my anxiety. I didn’t get the job. I found this quite discouraging at the time but at least it’s more practise and experience at interviews. Hopefully my next interview won’t cause me as much anxiety because I know a little bit about what to expect now. If someone had told me even a year ago that I would have been able to get through a job interview, I would never have believed them.
What worries me is that I seem to be having some potentially serious side-effects when I take propranolol. They do make me quite bradycardic – my heart rate was once as low as 49bpm while I was on them once. I also get mild chest pain and feel out of breath just with normal walking when I’ve taken them, with a stitch-like feeling in my chest or side. And I can feel my heart having to contract a lot more forcefully than usual after even very light exercise like this. I worry that I could be doing myself damage by taking the beta-blockers. I should really see my GP about it but my GP’s surgery is fully booked with appointments for the next month. I will try asking at the nurse appointment on Monday and see if she can advise me on what, if anything, I can do about it.