Back in November, I mentioned that I’d be going for a job interview at uni. I didn’t get the job and the interview process was awful but at least I did get some feedback from the interviewers, and some more experience of interviews. There were about 20 of us waiting in the university foyer to be interviewed (they employ a large group of people each year and this was one of the many interviews), which was really awkward, because no one was talking to the others and everyone seemed to be avoiding eye contact. We were all taken to the same room and after a quick talk by one of interviewers, we began on the first task, which involved being paired up with another person in the room, having a conversation with this person, and then having to tell everyone in the room as much information as possible about them, while one of the interviewers observed each pair. I’m so glad that I decided to take a low dose of propranolol before this because I don’t know how I would have managed without it. The woman I was paired with seemed really nice but I still found it very difficult to talk to her. I was really anxious to begin with but calmed down slightly towards the end of the conversation. Having to talk while everyone else in the room listened to me was awful, though maybe not quite as bad as I thought it would be. I felt like I’d made a complete idiot of myself in front of everyone and that everyone was thinking: “What a weirdo. Why is she even here?”
The second task involved everyone in the room being split into 2 groups. Each group was given a hypothetical situation where we were on a sinking ship with 13 crew members but we only had time to save 7 people, and had to decide, as a group, from the descriptions of each pretend crew member, who was going to be saved and who wasn’t, then give our reasoning for this. I was awful at this task. I barely said anything within the group because it seemed that anything I came up with was mentioned by someone else before I could pluck up the courage to say it. I can’t tell you how nerve-racking it is to have an interviewer observe you constantly throughout all of this as well. The fire alarm went off during this task, which gave me a welcome respite. I couldn’t even talk to the others while we waited outside the building to be given the all-clear and allowed back in.
The third and most difficult task of the day involved being put into groups of 3 and having just 15 minutes to prepare for a 10 minute presentation. I did manage to contribute a lot in the planning stage of this, but the actual presentation was horrendous (though again, maybe not quite as bad as I thought it would be). Once again, I was so glad that I had the propranolol to get me through it. I didn’t know where to look and felt that everyone could see how awkward, uncomfortable, and inept I was. I felt like they could tell there was something wrong with me.
Once the presentations were over, we were all called individually to an interview. I did manage to talk a little bit to some of the other people while we were waiting to be called. Strangely, the actual interview was probably the easiest part of the day as I had thoroughly prepared for it and they didn’t ask me anything too difficult. I still felt that I didn’t come across well because of my anxiety though.
A few days after the interview, everyone was given some feedback via a phone call. The woman who phoned me said that I came across as intelligent and knowledgeable (which is news to me because I usually feel that I come across as a bumbling idiot to most people) but need to have more confidence in my knowledge/ what I’m saying. She said I had prepared very well for the interview. I apparently came across as very serious in both the interview and the presentation, in my tone of voice as well as in my body language. She also mentioned that I barely smiled and need to be more enthusiastic. This obviously isn’t the first time that I’ve been told that I seem really serious when I’m anxious. It must just be the way my body reacts when I’m anxious because I can’t help it. I suppose learning to relax my facial muscles might help me to smile (read: fake smile) more in these situations but I’ve no idea how to make my body language or tone of voice more relaxed when I’m that overwhelmed with anxiety. I was told that I relaxed towards the end of the first task and this showed – I asked more questions towards the end of the conversation and improved my body language (for example, leaning forward). I didn’t contribute enough to the the group work task, and was aware of this at the time. When I mentioned that my biggest issue on the day was feeling “a bit anxious” (it was actually incapacitating anxiety but I obviously don’t like to let other people know that I have a severe anxiety problem), the woman giving me feedback suggested that I could remember positive social experiences when I have felt relaxed – so never (except when with close family members) then? – and try to re-create these situations (in the way I act and come across) when anxious. She recommended going along to the networking event (which I didn’t really manage) and as many workshops as possible, and to practise presentations and smiling. I’m glad that I was actually given feedback on how I did in the interview process for a change, though I do feel a bit discouraged about appearing so serious whenever I’m anxious because I think it will be really difficult to change that. I must appear very unapproachable and unfriendly to people most or even all of the time. I’m glad that I managed to get through that incredibly stressful and anxiety-provoking experience but I don’t particularly want to go through something like that again any time soon.
I really enjoyed the concert that I went to on the same day as the interview. I ended up getting stressed out because we got stuck in rush hour traffic in Glasgow and it seemed like we’d never make it there on time. My sister and I ended up almost at the back of the queue but we were still quite close to the stage when we got into the venue. My sister even managed to get us to the front barrier by the time Rise Against came on (I don’t know how she managed it but I’m definitely taking her along to concerts more often). I had wanted to jump around a bit more and to feel a bit more part of the crowd but the ratio of males to females at that concert was about 6:1, and many of the men there didn’t appear to know their own strength. The second support act (who will remain nameless) were a bit dodgy – they were drinking on stage, kept raving about marijuana and why it should be legalised, and couldn’t go more than 5 words without saying some variation of the word “fuck” – and we noticed that people in the mosh pit were actually punching each other while this band were playing, so we quickly decided to steer clear of that. I think there were people who showed up just to see that support act because things were a lot calmer and a lot less violent when the main band came on. Maybe the support act just invited the wrong kind of people. I was really happy that we managed to get the front barrier because we weren’t getting shoved all over the place, we were only a few feet away from the band, and my anxiety was greatly helped by the fact that I could just climb over the barrier if anything happened or if I was feeling really overwhelmed at any point.
I usually never sing at concerts because my anxiety prevents me from doing so. Even though I know that no one will be able to hear me over the music and that no one will care that I’m singing, I still usually feel far too self-concious. But I managed to sing the “wooah-wooah-wooah”s in ‘Make It Stop’, and a few words of ‘Saviour’ (which is one of my least favourite Rise Against songs but it was the last one they played so I thought I may as well). I know it probably seems petty and pathetic to most people, but it’s a big thing for me to be able to sing even a few words or sounds. I can sing in front of a family member if it’s in a joking way (like the duet with my sister that I mentioned) but I struggle to even sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to them and I was never able to sing at assemblies in school. I wish that I could have sung along to the entire concert. I was singing along to every word (just like I do whenever I see a band that I really like) in my head. I really enjoyed that concert. Concerts always give me a natural high but this one maybe more so than others, due to how stressful my morning had been.
This is the only video I have of the concert (turn the sound waaay down if you don’t want to be deafened) – I was too busy enjoying myself and occasionally being shoved into a barrier to film any more (and yes, I filmed it vertically like an idiot):
My dreams are not unlike yours
They long for the safety
And break like a glass chandelier
But there’s laughter and oh there is love
Just past the edge of our fears
And there’s chaos when push comes to shove
But it’s music to my ears
– ‘People Live Here’ by Rise Against