The ultimate selfie…
What does a person with self-doubt look like?
Have you ever been confronted with a question, a very simple question that you are more than qualified to answer – yet you struggled internally, to the point of verbal catatonia, to find the confidence to answer it?
Who am I to answer this question? What right do I have to narrow the universe down to one simple answer? Who will trust my conclusion? Why would they?
Ashamedly, this is a regular battle for me. All too often I face this little baby in the ring – self-doubt. Sometimes making it impossible to make even the simplest decisions without questioning who I am.
I know I’m not the only one. However, when you are battling with your own self doubt, chances are you see everyone else in a different light. You’d be like “look at her, as if she has any problem defining her worth…”
Terrible mistake! The last thing you want to do when you are doubting your own worth is to compare yourself to someone else. That other person has their own insecurities and their worth doesn’t relate in the slightest bit to you. Not even knowing their insecurities will amount to your happiness. And worse still, I bet if you knew what they were insecure about, you would be able to find a million reasons why they shouldn’t be insecure. But how will this help you?
Why would you want to focus on someone else, especially when you are facing your own uncertainty? Sure, you may find a little inspiration somewhere, by focussing on others’ merits… but not when you are having your own self-doubt! Hell no, this is a time when you need to realise what makes you so special – and that does not come from anyone else.
So recently I have been trying to define who I am, what makes me so special. Questioning – Why am I qualified to get about being who I try to be? How can I find self assurance and be confident enough to own who I am?
A simple exercise I was asked to perform in class recently may hold the clues.
The task was to narrow down a topic for a research assignment. At first, when asked by the teacher, “What are you interested in?” I racked my brain. I could not for the life of me narrow down anything I was interested in.
It dawned on me that I am quite possibly interested in nothing. Does this mean I am not interesting?
No interest? Absurd I know.
Of course things interest me. I find almost everything I come across curiously attractive. But, for some reason, then and there, I could not narrow it down to one thing.
Just say something dammit. It is not that hard a question. There is no wrong answer – Ryan Gosling.
Nope, nothing. Nothing came out. I was at a loss.
Anyway, the idea of the following exercise was to open things up, to get the juices flowing – to find a research topic that specifically related to me, with the purpose of maintaining my interest.
Thus it began: list all of the your identities; list all of the jobs you’ve ever had; list all of the subjects you’ve ever studied; list all of the places you’ve been on holiday; list all of the careers and interests of each of your family members; list all of the things that you thought about today… and so on, and so on.
It was like turning a camera lens around and focussing it on myself, it was a word association selfie.
By the end of the exercise I was left with a really long list of words – all that directly related to me and my life.
Nobody else’s list was the same as mine. Some were longer, some were way shorter. Some of the class had lists tailored very definitely around certain things, others were all over the place and as diverse as mine.
Remember at the beginning of the class when faced with that question, “What are you interested in?” – I was fogged by my insecurities. I found it too difficult to narrow it down, because my insecurities were getting the better of me.
Albeit subconsciously, when first posed that question, I was looking around the room imagining that everyone else had the most amazing interests and skills and ideas, and were all so confident about what it is that they want/do/want-to-do with their lives. Consequently, I had nothing.
However, at the end when I looked at my list – my long, diverse and so ‘uniquely me‘ list, I no longer had any interest in anyone else’s list. I liked my list.
What makes me qualified for anything that I do in my life? What gives my opinion any girth? What is the backbone of all of my decision making, and why should I be confident about each of these decisions?
It’s because of all this, this list. Look at that list of all that I am. That is my list. What a nice looking list.
Now, obviously I cannot go through this exercise everyday, or every time I have a doubt. I can’t memorise everyone of those words on that list and regurgitate them at will. But, perhaps if I choose one word to sum up that list – like “Mandy” – I may have a key to unlocking that confidence the next time I doubt my qualifications to be me.
This word “Mandy” is my key – the word that reminds me how long I have lived, and all that I have discovered, all that I have felt, and all of what is locked inside my brain. That key word will prepare me for any decision, the decision I am about to make now…should I stay or should I go?; choctop or maltesers?; take the job or don’t take the job?; share my truth or keep quiet?; fight or flight?
I have no reason to be a rabbit in headlights again, scared to answer. Because the weight of every decision I make is largely going to affect me, Mandy. And there is my key. Because nobody is more qualified to make these decisions for me than I am. So time to quit the doubt. Geez.