“Seedy-self-portrait V3” (Illustrated by Arlene Ellis, 2013)
Last night I remembered why it’s so vital to have supportive friends. My friend Bob (name changed for privacy reasons) has a knack for helping me pinpoint my irrational fears. Last night while we spoke on the phone, I told him that recently I created a project timeline for someone. I couldn’t believe how easy it was for me to think strategically about helping this person overcome her obstacles, yet I had such a difficult time doing that for myself. “Why?!” I shouted, “I mean I have project management experience for goodness sakes!
Chess Player Syndrome
Bob said that I suffered from “chess player syndrome.” FYI I’m not sure if this phrase exists outside of our conversation. “What’s chess player syndrome?” I asked. He explained that it’s when you’re able to look over a chess player’s shoulder and visualize the moves he needs to make to win the game; you can see things objectively. But when you’re playing the game, you become so mired in your anxiety that you’re unable to see the big picture. Boom! Diagnoses. Bob recommended that I create a similar timeline for myself.
“Seedy-self-portrait Vs” (Illustrated by Arlene Ellis, 2013; Original photo by Boris Poletaev)
Wearing a Coat of Fear
Bob then began questioning me about the specific thoughts that mired by objective lens. I explained it was the usual, a fear of failure. Then he asked me to visualize myself without this fear. I couldn’t. So he said, “Imagine your fear is like a snug coat. You’re comforted feeling its texture press up against your skin. It’s so close to your body that it silences the sound of your heart beating and the murmuring in your guts. Now imagine yourself taking that coat off tomorrow. What would you do differently?” My stomach immediately knotted up. (In fact my stomach is knotting up right now while writing about this.) I knew he was right and the simplicity of it all made me sick.
As my conversation with Bob winded down, he suddenly had an epiphany,”I finally get it!”
“Friend-ship. A friend is someone who helps you on your journey.”
Yes and I’m grateful for the company 🙂
Old Greenwich Beach (Arlene Ellis, 2013)