Do you ever sit back and daydream about what life would be like if you were normal? Or is that just me? I used to wonder if I was alone in going through what I am going through, but I know now, this is not the case. Thank you to the movements that have emerged in recent years, thank you to the growing mental health community, thank you to those embracing your vulnerability, thank you because we are becoming less alone. Also, thank you to the internet, because we have never been more connected, and we have access to wonderful resources that make it a little easier to open up and embrace ourselves for who we are, as we are. (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.)
Sometimes though, I do wonder what it would be like if I was “normal”. OF COURSE, normal doesn’t really mean anything, and we are all as we should be, but for the purposes of my point, I will still use the word. To further elaborate, to me, normal means happy, normal means me overcoming the tragedies of my past, me without depression, and me without anxiety. You know, happy for the sake of being happy, living life with the whole heart. Have you ever met someone like that? And you think, “gross.” but deep down “gross” is just envy and you wish you could be as “normal” as the person you are grossing at? That’s what I’m talking about. Look at you being all self-aware. BUT, I guarantee, that happy person, that “normal” grossbag, has put in the work to get to where they are. I guarantee that they have and will have bad days. But, I also guarantee they are living their life with gratitude, being grateful for each day, and embracing themselves for who they truly are.
Welcome to an exercise: W.W.N.D.D. (What Would Normal Danielle Do?)
I came up with this exercise about two years ago and as goof baggy as it sounds, it works for me. In any situation where I feel anxious, not enough, afraid, sad, etc. I ask myself what I would do if I was normal. When I am feeling anxious while having a conversation with someone I don’t know well, I say to myself, “what would you do if you weren’t feeling anxious?” and I answer, “I would make eye contact and smile.” And then I make eye contact and smile. (I know eye contact burns, but I promise you, it’ll be okay.) When I have to give a speech I say to myself, “how would you give this speech if you weren’t afraid of being rejected?” My answer is something like, “I would be so confident and knowledgeable about this subject.” And then I try to channel that confidence and perform like a magical speaking unicorn. *throws glitter*
Really, what I am doing, is creating a vision of my success. This is an actual tool used by many to succeed. When I break it down so that it’s relative to me, because I don’t do many things by the book, I am able to do better in everyday situations. I am able to embrace my fears, push past the vulnerability, and welcome the opportunity of success into my life, even if that means I fail.
I have been using this tool often as I am interviewing for a new job. Possibly one of the most stressful situations we find ourselves in. To feel confident in the interview I have to prepare extensively and imagine myself doing an A+ job at the interview. When I imagine that success, I have a better interview 100% of the time. If I imagine myself failing miserably in the interview, I fail, 100% of the time. (Yes, the percentages are made-up, get off me.) Prepare, imagine your success, and give yourself the pep talk you deserve. You can do it!
I encourage you to try this exercise when you are feeling anxious or afraid. Replace “Danielle” with your own name and ask yourself what you would do if you were not anxious, nervous, or afraid. If you feel like you can’t push past the discomfort to have that difficult conversation, to give that speech, or to write that paper, imagine what your “normal” or fully functional self could do. Imagine yourself succeeding. And then do it. We are all capable of more than we give ourselves credit for. Embrace your vulnerability and have the courage to succeed, or the courage to fail. Either way, you will be 10 out of 10 times a stronger person for trying. Fact.