Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Stress

I used to be shy. Very shy: being scared of shop assistants shy; twisting up my hands and feet and not looking people in the eye shy; acting like a moron at school to deflect the abject terror associated with social interaction in all its forms.

Then, I grew up, I left home, went to university - discovered the relaxing powers of alcohol - and it all got better.

Only... it's come back...

Now that I'm effectively running my own business, I'm writing emails and talking on the phone all the time, in three different languages did I use the right formal register, was I too familiar, did my quote overstep the mark, should I really have asked that question or does that make me look inexperienced?

and I'm feeling a pressure at my temples and in my jaw and I'm holding my breath

Then - coming back from Poland - I'm plunged into social circles where just having a funny ex-pat story isn't enough. I'm being respectfully interested with my parents' friends, pretending to be grown up with new acquaintances of my own age, trying to fit back in comfortably with old friends
do we still talk about that? did I forget to ask about so-and-so? have I said something inappropriate? did I offend someone? am I talking too fast, did I interrupt?

tension, pressure, stress-stress-stress, breathe ... breathe...

And then, to cap it all, I read that Stress Makes You Fat

Not only are young women expected to live their lives in a constant state of worry about their figures, their careers and the size of their student debts... we're now under continuous pressure to RELAX! AT ALL COSTS! ON PAIN OF... FAT!!!

make it stop make it stop make it stop...

9 comments:

Amélie said...

I never noticed that you were shy! I think you are very at ease with people. And you might be under stress, but you're not fat ;)

Bisous

pinolona said...

ah see this was while I was still a student under the relaxing influence of alcohol... :)

Amélie said...

But alcohol makes you fat! C'est un cercle vicieux !!!

peixote said...

Ah yes, unleash the awesome power of alcohol!

Anyway, I hope you are not suggesting only women exprience anxieties - men have feeling too!

pinolona said...

Amelie: c'est clair! (passe-moi la bouteille...)

Peixote: ah yes but there's no pressure on men to look like supermodels all the time - you can get away with a bit of excess baggage without incurring a moral judgement like 'goodness, she's let herself go' (*utterly fails to ignore classic Peixote 'battle-of-the-sexes'-style baiting*)

peixote said...

Clearly, you have not had much contact with the typical Polish congregation of babcias and ciocias, so frequently encountered during family-related events in this country. They do go after the men too, believe you me.

Anyway, there`s also self-criticism and it is often a much-stronger factor than peer pressure.

And finally (and I am really sticking my neck out here) it is my impression that British women on the whole find it a lot easier than Polish women to overcome and disregard that social pressure to look like supermodels - for supporting evidence see the programme "How to Look Good Naked" on Channel 4.

peixote said...

Anyway, what are YOU worried about? I concur with Amelie, you`re not fat.

pinolona said...

no no no: I'm not complaining that I am fat myself (although I wouldn't say I look like a supermodel either), but the fact is that a constant level of stress releases cortisol which then causes the body to store fat around the waist. I read about this and naturally started to worry (about worrying too much), thus laying the foundations for future girth expansion. Like Amelie said, un cercle vicieux...

Anna said...

really? stress has always made me skinny. it also messes up my skin real bad, but that's a different story.