Don't Panic

don't panic
A moment ago, I was updating my twitter with a somewhat scandalous message, as I’m wont to do. Go ahead, ask my friends. They’ll tell you. “Dan Morris? Oh yeah he posts crazy things all the time,” or “Dude, I wish that guy wasn’t on my friends list, but I’d feel all guilty for defriending him,” or “Dan Morris? Never met him, don’t know who you’re talking about.”

The instant between clicking “post” and seeing my news feed update, though, was an exercise in irrational terror. Hairs on the back of my neck stood up and palpitations shook my chest. It was an odd reflex, like muscle memory for my soul.

In a previous job, I was the social media czar for a large research nonprofit, and commanded a massive audience of social followers across several sites. It sounds silly to say it now, but more and more I’m seeing the results of the kind of stress that position put me in. Facebook? Blog? Twitter? Stressful?

As it turns out, yes. Decidedly so, and from many different directions. On the surface, it was the kind of position I’d always thought would be perfect for me; relatively high level communications role with an organization I adored, and the opportunity to set the voice for that organization. What I wasn’t prepared for, though, was the accountability involved. The wording of a status update, far more than the content, could (and did) easily upset hundreds of thousands of loyal supporters. Also, being in a unique position of prominence gave my activities an unpleasant level of visibility to executive management.

All that in consideration, I used to get cold sweats before pressing the send button, even when logged in to my personal accounts. After a while, my own personal social pages got to be dry and boring out of this constant vigilance in staying appropriate. Just now, even though it’s been more than half a year since I left that role, the same terror just rolled through me.

This is a great illustration of how people give far too much credence to their jobs. Nothing should be as stressful as I allowed that role to be. It’s important to keep an accurate image of consequences in mind, and if the consequences are core-rattlingly-bad, then something’s wrong. It’s either the wrong role to be in, or the expectations are unrealistic, or someone seriously needs a prescription for Xanax.

In my case, I vote for the Xanax, just because I’ve got really good prescription coverage.

I kid. Pragmatically, my prescription coverage is average or slightly above.

Honestly, though, anxiety should be a keen indicator that something’s wrong professionally. Address it before things become more unbalanced. Work load, individual perspectives, whatever it is needs immediate attention. For me, the result was souring on a job I started out loving because I ignored my anxieties until it was far too late.

For now, though, I will commence tweeting “poop” as frequently as possible without so much as a flinch.

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