We all face personal demons, whether through drug or alcohol abuse, or the negative thinking that we’re not good enough.
J.D faces his demons when he finally gets the opportunity to get a great job… And this week he finds out if he got it…
I’ve a demon inside me. As Houghton House has taught, it won’t dissipate with the stopping of drugs or alcohol. It remains, it takes new forms, it yearns for reward.
We’re hardwired to respond to pleasure. Makes sense, right? Pleasure is meant to motivate us into action. Work harder, be more productive, and you achieve more. Hence workaholics.
Have more sex, increase your chances of spreading a seed to bloom and quicken a womb, and you have more genetic descendants. Hence sex addicts.
Eat more food, store the calories away in your belly, you can weather the lean winter months.
But what worked in the cave(hu)man era is easily dysfunctional now. Hence eating disorders.
The constant sense of reward drives some of us to destructive behaviours. I covered some of this in my Everyday addictions post.
It’s the tentacles of a beast within us. And for me, it’s about alleviating pain.
I experience a pain of my own making every day. A hell self-constructed from the fiery coals of low self-esteem.
I’ve been looking for a permanent post at some or other agency for a very long time now. I wanted to find work desperately.
Yet, at the back of my mind, was the constant voice of a devil shrouded in my own skin.
“No one will hire you – you’re not good enough. You’re too f*$%ed up. They’ll see through you. There’s always someone better than you.”
In my line of work, portfolios are important. And mine, through some lack of opportunity to potentially award-winning campaigns, is lacklustre compared to others. Or so I thought.
The negative thinking I indulge in is so self-destructive: it makes it easy to justify picking up drugs or drinking alcohol again. It makes it easy to consider self-harm. It makes it easy to just give up and live in squalor.
That demon voice, the one that breaks you down, points out all your flaws, recites all your mistakes, remembers all the people who you pushed away, eviscerates your bowels with cutting memories… it is as much a part of Hell as active addiction.
Some addicts recovering from drugs, drink, and dubious “escorts”, seem to find their self-esteem grow quickly once they’re on the Path. Houghton House certainly helps them a lot with that. With me, I’m only still walking because of my Houghton therapist.
She’s guided me through a long, winding road which finally saw me face my biggest challenge.
Apply. Apply. Apply. And yet so many non-responses from so many companies. Until one day two weeks ago. I sent my CV, and a comic-strip introduction I made on my MacBook, to a social media agency.
The gatekeeper, responsible for filtering the candidates, emailed me back.
“Oh, this isn’t about the job. I just really love your comic strip. Can you make me one? Kiiiiiding. How’s tomorrow for an interview?”
Excited, I affirmed the date and time. The demon in my head kept feeding me nonsense, though. “They’ll meet you. They’ll see how ridiculous you are. Why even bother trying? Go there out of duty, simply to say you did it. But we both know you won’t get it.”
Demons, cruel spiteful creatures, have talons in my soul. I refused to give up though.
Along a long windy passageway, I walked, past office after office, until I reached this agency’s door.
I met the two young ladies interviewing on behalf of their bosses. I hit it off with both of them. We even exchanged cat photos. (Cat people, sigh.)
I was given a test to do. To see if I had the right stuff for the job. Basically, writing social media posts, as required in different circumstances.
Again, the demon.
I was in the shower, hot water hitting me, temperatures close to searing. The demon said, “Why bother with the test? Just do it to get it over with. Someone is out there now, doing a better job that you will ever do.”
I fought that voice. I fought it with everything I had. If I could beat drugs and alcohol, I could beat the personification of my low self-esteem.
“I want the job. If I want the job, I’m going to give them more than they asked for.”
I decided not to respond to the assignment in the word document as they expected me to. I made them a full-feature PowerPoint presentation. I used pictures, I created a narrative structure, I explained my thinking for each Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn post. I wrote a compelling blog entry, raw with emotion yet imbued with humour.
I sent it off to the company.
And I heard nothing.
“I told you,” said the demon. “You went too far. Who cares about bells and whistles? All that effort, for nothing. Go nap now. Sleep away your life. It’s worthless anyhow.”
Instead, I followed up. Refused to give in.
“Hey, I realise the format I sent the presentation in might not have worked on your computer, here’s a version in PDF.” That was my excuse.
“No, we were able to view it fine. We absolutely loved it J Janine [the one boss] will be calling you shortly.”
“Shortly” was a couple of nerve-wracking days.
The demon continued his taunting, his mocking, his attempt to chip away at my self-belief.
I finally got over it. Accepted whatever happens.
Then I got a meeting request. With the bosses.
“You’ll screw up this interview!”
“I have to try.”
It wasn’t an interview. It was a meeting to discuss the fine points of what I’m required to do.
Because they really did love the presentation.
And the bosses told me how their people ranted and raved about me.
I’m about to embark on an exciting new chapter.
It’ll require doing work I’ve not really done before.
But they chose me because they believe me to be a truly gifted writer.
I’m facing down the demon’s horns now.
He’s been sundered but he hasn’t surrendered.
It doesn’t matter.
Because neither have I.
Photo credits. J.D