Working at the Royal Mail over the Christmas period generally wasn’t as bad as it was the year before. I seemed to be better at dealing with the monotony and boredom aspects of it this time round. My anxiety was still very high for the first few days though. This wasn’t helped by a mix up on my first day of working there. I started a day after everyone else, and the two women on reception got very angry about this, despite me phoning in to let them know about it weeks before. They did apologise to me later when they had calmed down and realised that it was a misunderstanding, but the whole ordeal put my anxiety levels through the roof. I was briefly shown around, and met 3 of the managers that I’d worked with the year before. They recognised me and asked how I was doing but I was so anxious that I was very visibly shaking at this point, and felt humiliated. At least the anxiety improved after the first few days.
One of the people I regularly worked with was a medical entomologist who had a PhD (which he seemed to want everyone in the building to know) and his own business (he was working at the Royal Mail because business had been really bad that year). After finding out that I’m studying animal biology, he proceeded to tell me all about lyme disease (which is a big part of what his company is researching), gave me his business card, and also gave me occasional career advice. He spoke about the fact that there were so many people working at the Royal Mail who had degrees but were unable to get jobs relevant to their degrees, saying that he wouldn’t employ anyone who had been unemployed and not done anything relevant to their degree for a while. He encouraged me to get voluntary experience in whatever career area I wanted to go into, or I would never have any kind of career. I found it all quite depressing, especially as I still don’t have a clue what I want to do and I can’t see how I’m ever going to get a job after university.
Another person who I worked with regularly (who was only a couple of years older than me) had just lost his mother and had to drop out of university in order to care for his brother, who has autism. When I hear about things like this happening to people, I don’t know how they can possibly manage or find the strength to on. They are much braver and stronger than I am. How do you ever get over something like that or regain any sense of normality or happiness? A neighbour of mine (who is my sister’s friend’s grandfather) just lost his wife after she went through a very long illness. The fact that it was a gradual deterioration probably just made it all the worse. Over the last year or so, every time I’ve seen him, he’s appeared about 10 years older than the time before. I don’t know and probably can’t imagine what it feels like to lose a parent or a spouse. I can’t imagine the pain that those people must be experiencing. I see my neighbour all the time when I’m out walking my dog. I wish I could do or say something to make him feel a bit better but I’m so socially awkward.
One night, during one of my last shifts there, I was working at the manual letters sorting area when the guy next to me started trying to make conversation with me. I was feeling really uncomfortable because I was so anxious and the conversation wasn’t really going anywhere. One of the first things he had said to me was that I looked very serious (Wow, never heard that one before!) I tried to brush it off by telling him that I was just tired from working so many shifts, but was annoyed by his comment. I don’t really see what I can do to change what my face involuntarily does when I’m anxious. Do people want me to start wearing a Mr. Happy mask or something? (Yes, I’m grumpy, I know).
I was wondering why this guy kept trying to talk to me despite the conversation being so awkward. A short while later, he suddenly asked for my phone number. No one has ever asked for my number before. I was so anxious, uncomfortable and taken aback that all I could do was awkwardly say “Nah”. It would be almost laughable how awkward I am if it didn’t cause me so much misery. I don’t know why, but after he asked me for my number, I felt like I wanted to immediately get away from him. I felt like I was going to have a panic attack, and had to go to the toilets to calm myself down. I was shaking with anxiety and felt awful for the rest of my shift. I avoided him as much as I possibly could. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I don’t know why I get so incredibly anxious when someone shows an interest in me. I don’t know why I’m so afraid. I really don’t know how anyone could possibly be attracted to me anyway. It makes me very anxious to think about that, and again, I don’t know why. Because of this, and because I have such a low opinion of myself that I believe it’s impossible for anyone to be attracted to me, a lot of cognitive dissonance has to take place if someone does appear to be interested in me. I convince myself that anyone who is ‘interested’ in me is only interested because they’re desperate and would go out with anyone. I’m sure that this was the case with the guy who asked for my number. I did feel bad for rejecting him but I’m fairly sure that he was only interested in one thing (and it wasn’t meaningful conversation), but again, it gives me a lot of anxiety, to the point where it sickens me, to think that anyone could think about me in that way (I’ll write more about this at some point). I don’t know why I’m so messed up and weird. Unfortunately, I think my timidity and low self-esteem would only ever attract the wrong kind of guy anyway. I know of many women with social anxiety who are in/ have been in abusive relationships so that’s also something I have to be very careful about.
You’d think that the fact that a small number of men have shown an interest in me over the last 2 years would make me feel a bit better about myself and lead me to believe that I am perhaps attractive to a very small percentage of people, but it doesn’t. I feel as unattractive, undesirable and unlovable as I ever did. I still feel like a worthless, hideous, repulsive monster who will be forever alone. I know I’ll never be able to allow anyone to love me (though I don”t even believe that anyone could love me) until I love myself but I have no idea how to do that. People always tell you that you should learn to love yourself but they never tell you how.
For the last few days that I worked at the Royal Mail, I worked with the same 2 people. I was my usual shy and awkward self with them but they were really friendly towards me. I even sat and had lunch with them one day. I know that probably seems like nothing to most people but it’s a massive thing for me. Even something as simple as one of them saying “See you in the canteen” makes me really happy. It blows my mind that people actually let me sit with them/ wanted me to sit with them. I was able to talk a lot (for me) when I sat with them. One thing the three of us had in common was a burning hatred of ‘All About That Bass’ by Meghan Trainor, which was played about 4 times every shift, the entire time that we worked there. On the surface, the song seems to be about body positivity, but achieves the exact opposite through shaming thin people. And apparently a woman is supposed to base her self-worth on whether or not men find her fuckable. But what annoys me the most is how monotonous the song is. I swear, if I hear it one more time, I think I’ll go insane. Anyway, mini rant over.
I was really fed up of working there during my last few shifts, but I had a good last day. Someone I’d briefly worked with before started a conversation with me in the staff kitchen and invited me to sit with her. Then one of the guys I had regularly been working with and I were allowed another short break later that day, by one of the managers. I was able to chat away to him and we had a laugh at the fact that loads of the permanent workers were skiving, and hiding behind the lockers so that the managers wouldn’t see them. Both he and the woman I’d sat with at lunch were really friendly to me and said a friendly goodbye at the end of the shift. I was glad to end my time there on a high.