What’s the worst that can happen?

By on 24th November 2016

Simon Carter talks about the daily battles with his inner monologue

Having an inner monologue that always thinks the worst is really tiresome. I call mine Cartman, because like the cartoon character, he’s loud, annoying and rarely adds anything useful to the conversation. He’s the reason for the bulk of my worry and if I haven’t got something to worry about, he’ll drag up episodes from my past that nearly went wrong and talk about what would have happened if they’d gone the other way. He’s also given me just enough social anxiety problems that I find it difficult to interact with strangers, especially large groups of them, because after all – each one of them is judging me, sneering at me and generally going to ignore everything I’m going to say anyway. Well, aren’t they?

Most of the time I can cope with this reasonably well, I’ve developed a pretty safe bubble to walk around in and cultivated a persona that discourages anyone from trying to pop it unless they have good reason, so I’m quite good at being invisible. This works great most of the time but the next few months are going to be quite challenging. Here’s why….

For those of you who don’t know, Wild Goose Wellbeing has just launched a charity drive for 2017. We’ll be announcing full details soon but the plan is that the office is uprooting itself for a week and walking all 80 miles of the Dales Way barefoot. We’re all going to find this challenging in different ways – personally I’m fine with the barefoot bit, I need to get a little fitter for the 80 miles bit, but the thought of getting out and fundraising for it absolutely terrifies me. Since I usually try to get the hardest challenges out of the way first, I’m tackling the inner Cartman head-on now so I’ve just been to my local shopping centre on the busiest day of the week to see if I can actually talk to anyone about what we’re doing without crumbling into a wobbly, nervous wreck. I deliberately didn’t even put any shoes in the car, so Cartman could whinge all he liked about it being the middle of November and there still being small piles of snow in the car park – I wasn’t listening and even if I was, there was nothing I could do about it.

Lush is one of my favourite shops. They are wonderfully ethical and the second best provider of cosmetics in the country, second only to Hayley’s natural skincare workshops. They’re also run by the happiest team of staff in the world so true to form, within a minute of grabbing a basket I have a smiling attendant commenting on my selection of bath bombs. We talked about patchouli and cinnamon (the two greatest contributions to any bath), we talked about how jealous she was that I got to walk around barefoot all day while she had another eight hours before she could kick off her shoes, we talked about the charity and all the other great things that we do at Wild Goose and all the while I could feel the inner Cartman quietly fuming that security hadn’t thrown me out yet – but hey, what does he know?

Anyway, the moral of this story is that when you always fear the worst, what this actually means is that pretty much any outcome is usually better than your expectations, sometimes totally surpassing anything that you had even considered. In this case my worst case was cold feet, grumpy security guards and being lost for words but the reality was an advert for Wild Goose being put up on the noticeboard of a very busy shop, then getting home to find they had snuck a tub of free foot balm into my bag, along with a handwritten note saying ‘Thank you for being amazing’. What lovely people.

And they’re right of course – we are all amazing and we need to remind ourselves of that every day. It’s also good to remind others as well because sometimes people just need to hear it from someone else. I’m going to say this one more time to make it stick – We. Are. All. Amazing.

In your face, Cartman.