I would never have put myself forward to be a member of my Local Pharmaceutical Committee (LPC). It was not something I even considered. That was something that other people did.
People much more important than me.
Then one day a certain Robbie Turner, who was CEO of Community Pharmacy West Yorkshire (CPWY) at the time, mentioned that the requests for nominations to be on the LPC had gone out and asked me if I was going to apply.
I said I wasn’t planning to and he said that I should. Now if you’ve ever spoken to Robbie you will know that he has this gift of making you feel like you would hate to disappoint him, so I found myself filling in the application form.
It’ll be alright, I thought, no-one will vote for me anyway.
Well, I got that wrong and somehow found myself representing independent contractors on the LPC.
With much trepidation, I turned up to my first meeting. Going to new places stresses me out. Meeting new people stresses me out. Speaking aloud in a room full of people really stresses me out.
My face has an annoying (and actually quite debilitating) habit of turning a bright shade of red when attention is turned to me. I can feel the heat of it so strongly that I get more conscious of it, which makes the problem worse. When I’m really embarrassed my forearms even turn red. I have a quiet voice so I also try to make sure I speak loudly enough for people to hear me but the stress of speaking up constricts my vocal cords and makes my voice quieter. It’s like you’re having a battle with yourself and you’re both losing.
You can imagine how thrilled I was that the first thing we did at the meeting was to go around the table introducing ourselves. I couldn’t focus on who anyone else was because I was dreading it being my turn, then it was my turn and I got so embarrassed that I spent the rest of the introductions recovering and didn’t take anything in.
Why on earth, I hear you asking, did you put yourself through this?
I once read somewhere that you should do things that scare you. It’s supposed to be good for you apparently, and I knew from previous experience that as I got used to being there and got to know people I would gradually get better. And I didn’t want to be ruled by this. I didn’t want to be beaten by it.
Besides all that I wanted to do it. I felt that I had enough experience to make a positive contribution and wanted to help develop a profession that I love.
It has been just over three years since that first meeting and it has got easier. I feel much more comfortable now and I look forward to attending the meetings and seeing everyone. I hope that my input over that time has been useful. I believe that it has and I would encourage everyone to think about applying to be on their LPC as we all have a contribution to make and diversity of backgrounds and personalities is essential.
Something I’ve tried to do recently is to share a little bit about how I feel about situations that stress me and the more I’ve done that, the more I’ve found out that I’m not on my own. Perhaps we all need to be a bit more honest about how we feel? No one is perfect. No-one knows everything. Many of us have battles to fight and recruiting allies is definitely the way forward.
Dig a little deeper and you discover that most people are hiding their anxieties behind a mask of confidence.
My mask is just a bit redder than yours.
Amanda Smith is a pharmacy manager at an independent pharmacy, a CPWY committee member and a cake baker.