I don’t know what it is lately, but I have been plagued by self-doubt. I’m a relatively confident person if you don’t count social interactions with like, humans and stuff. (Cats, though. Cats and I are like this. ><) When it comes to my endeavors as a writer, I’m very confident. I believe in myself, I believe in my craft, and I believe in this art-committed life I’ve made for myself. But like any creative, I sometimes look over my shoulder and see the closet door left cracked open, and from within glare the tiny glowing eyes of a dozen shadowed creatures, lurking…
I call them doubt monsters. They’re tiny little mutinous cowards who wait until the softest spots are exposed. Why tiny? Because for me, that’s how doubt creeps in. I’m generally not an existential crisis kind of gal, so the monsters have to divide and conquer. One little nibble here, another sneaky bite there, and if I let them get to me, I’m paralyzed with fear before I know it.
I don’t know why. I don’t want this to come across as complaining or fishing for compliments, because that isn’t it at all. So please don’t get me wrong; I’m sharing this to talk about this strange little phenomenon called self-doubt, not to get reassurances or sound all woe-is-me. I have much to be excited about, proud of, and thankful for these days.
So what’s with all the doubt? I think it might have something do with untread territory. I’m walking new paths in my career, and I guess that’s scary. It doesn’t feel scary – in my head it feels freaking awesome – but the logical part of me knows that this sudden onset of doubt isn’t coincidental with the new steps I’m taking.
I’ll give you an example. This weekend I’m speaking at a state poetry conference that I’m really truly happy about. (Honored, excited, grateful: all of the above.) Last week, I sat down to write a bio for the program. Out of sheer repetitive habit, I filled it with the best, strongest, and most impressive facts about myself – as I’d seen done in all of the example bios from last year’s program. I focused mostly on poetry and had no problem getting a solid 150-word paragraph that sounded (to my ears) great.
Then I panicked.
All of a sudden, I felt like a hack. A pretentious wannabe. But that’s not logical, I told myself. I hadn’t exaggerated or said a single untrue thing in the whole paragraph. But still, it came across as boastful and snooty. Not really, I told myself. Everyone puts their best stuff in their bio. When have you ever read someone list the number of rejections they got instead of their publication credits? I knew I was being silly, but I just could not shake the feeling that I was somehow faking or pretending. The doubt monsters had come, and they went for the throat.
Luckily one of my friends helped talk me down, and thanks to a tight deadline, I was forced to just send the damn thing. Thank goodness. It’s a good bio, an honest bio. It’s my bio. I should embrace the things I’ve worked hard to earn.
Unfortunately, the doubt monsters cannot be so easily defeated. Shake off one and two more latch on. And I know it’s not just me, not just writers, not even just creatives. Everyone doubts themselves sometimes. I’m disappointed to admit that I’ve been running from doubt monsters quite a bit lately. Which is what brings me to my question of the week. (What, you thought I had an answer all tied up in a bow for you? Ha!)
Where do you go when the doubt monsters come?Share this: