You know that voice in the back of your mind, the one whispering you aren’t good enough? you can’t possibly do that? conquer this? complete that? It is the voice that also whispers who do you think you are? what if you fail? That “what if “voice has a name, self-doubt. Imagine a little creature hiding in the shadows in the back of your mind, just waiting for the opportunity to wreak havoc on confidence, abilities, and drive. Ugh, it’s an ugly little dude thriving on creating insecurities deep enough in our psyche to stop us in our tracks. I firmly believe we all have self-doubt. Even the most seemingly confident person must have a stare it down at some point in their life.
Monday is my last class and I will have earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing. I graduated 22 years ago with an Associates Degree in Nursing. Why didn’t I get a bachelor’s degree this first time around in college? Lack of confidence, focus, and drive? or just good ole fashioned self-doubt? Honestly, back then, I really did not think I could do it. I mean, the thought of spending four solid years, successful ones at that, was over whelming to a younger Holly. I had experienced a few disappointments in my late teens and early twenties (which I won’t bore you with) and as a result, I had invited self-doubt to take the wheel.
So what is different now? Why after 20 years did I decide to go back to and advance my degree? I am sitting here on my patio this morning thinking back to two years ago when I decided to return to school. Quite honestly, at that point, I had nothing to lose. I had lost so much in less than a year, and at a moment, when self-doubt should have had me by the neck, I made a decision to go forward and better myself through education. I stuck with the choice even after life threw me a few more curve balls. Just now I laughed a little at my naive younger self who was overwhelmed with life before it had legitimately begun. I think what has changed in my world viewpoint stems from experiencing failure and loss. Please, friends, don’t misunderstand the point here. No pity party requested.
Let me explain. You know that saying, what doesn’t kill you makes your stronger? I think it maybe true. Mistakes give us the opportunity to learn from them if we choose. You can take the knowledge gained from the experience, file it back for reference should you encounter the same situation again. Also whatever it was and even though it may have initially knocked your bum in the dirt, you survived it. You gained strength when you endured. You may never know what you are truly capable of if you never move beyond allowing self-doubt to have its say in life. Imagine sitting with your hands flat on either side of your head. If you move them forward to the sides of your eyes while keeping them flat, your vision is obscured. What if every time you conquered self-doubt, those hands moved back a bit. See how the periphery comes in to view? By taking off the blinders self-doubt creates we can see the bigger picture. Would it not be amazing to see an outcome as successful rather than focusing on the failure first? Yeah, I thought so too.
The last few years have changed my mind set where self-doubt is concerned. Where as I used to let self-doubt govern my decisions, I now when given an opportunity wait to hear the ugly little dude chime in his two cents worth. When he does, I think to my self well there is my fear, now what is the positive potential? Does that make me a Pollyanna? Maybe, but seeing the good in our world is far better than focusing on all the negative. I’ve spent time doing the former and decided life is too short to be mired down in it.
I use bullet points a lot in my school work, so here’s a few to think on.
- Julia Child said in her biography My Life in France, she feared no one would be interested in learning to cook complex French recipes in the American home. If she gave in to her self-doubts we wouldn’t have her entertaining and informative collections of works.
- Thomas Edison tried over 10,000 ways to make a light bulb before he was successful. Tell me he didn’t over come self-doubt to not give up on making just one work.
- My daughter loves the musical Hamilton so I know a bit about the creator now. Lin Manuel said in an interview with Vanity Fair, “But having doubt can be a good thing. If you don’t have self-doubt, you’re probably making some pretty crappy art. Having doubt makes you push yourself farther than you’ve gone before. It pushes you beyond your comfort zone when you’re writing and that helps you get through.”
So maybe a little self-doubt is a good thing? Nah, it still sucks rocks. My point is it can be overcome. We all can all persevere if we push through rather than be paralyzed by self-doubt.
Daisies, Coffee, and Chocolates,