Archaeologist Anxiety

I have pretty bad anxiety, like to the ‘needs therapy’ and ‘possibly medication’ extent, so that can be a bit of a problem.  This means that I literally cannot enjoy anything new without imagining some horrible new fear; in this case, a new job as a field technician, even though I’ve done it before with another organization.  But this is new, so it’s really quite scary.

There’s the standard archaeologist fears:

What if I find a projectile point and drop it into a pile of dirt filled with ticks and black widow spiders?(Already happened, waiting for the inevitable Lyme’s disease)

What if I mistake sandstone for prehistoric pottery (it actually looks really similar to the untrained eye)?

What if the motels we stay at have dead bodies and cockroaches under the bed? (it’s really possible)

What if I accidentally decapitate my dig partner with a shovel? (At over a meter in the ground, your arm gets super weak.)  And being struck by lighting?( it’s totally possible).

Then there’s the standard work fears:

What if everyone hates me? (pretty standard)

What if I’m horrible and get fired? (really standard)

What if people discover I like to knit and demand I make them hats, then realize I’m really bad at it and can’t afford the yarn without charging them? (Everyone’s been there)

But then there’s these REALLY specific fears that only make sense to me (or to you. I don’t know your life).

What if my married roommate at the motel I am staying in has sex with someone while I am still in the room? (I feel like one in two people have had this experience; hence the divorce rate).

Standard Falling Off of a Cliff? (happened in Achill Island in Ireland, 200 ft drop, caught myself at the last minute).

How about the very high risk of choking on melted cheese? (It happened when I ate potato skins at this restaurant in Mackinac island, and now I fear my favorite food).

What if I meet a really over competitive douche bag who tries to get ahead by ruining my relationship with our supervisor by sabotage? (That seriously happened in graduate school; there was some weird stuff going on in that staff office).

When it comes right down to it, my fears from the most specific and odd to the most standard are currently out of my control.  I can do the best I can, but I know I will screw something up; it’s inevitable at any new job. There is no way to not screw up at a new place, even if you’ve done the same job somewhere else. No amount of experience or preparation can stop that first mistake, and disappointment.

But I’m still going to have a panic attack.

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4 thoughts on “Archaeologist Anxiety

  1. For my anxiety, I had to reprogram my way of thinking. (I’m no doctor, I just hope I can help) and one of the things I had to remind myself is that there’s just some things that I can’t control, is part of life. The more often I thought this, the less the anxiety. Meds have helped (a bit, that’s a work in progress still) i sincerely hope you fight the overwhelming feeling of anxiety and that it doesn’t lead to a panic attack! Be well!

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    1. Thank you! It can be tough, I have to use meds too. The biggest thing I try to always do is continue to do things that scare me, like traveling and meeting new people. I think it has really helped, because I look back and feel like I can conquer smaller, everyday tasks more easily.

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