Sometimes I feel like a fraud.
When I write, a lot of times I try to encourage, inspire and educate my readers (as well as entertain). I like to provide motivation and cultivate the belief in yourself that you can do anything you want. Whether it’s pay off debt, lose weight, leave a bad marriage, start a new job—whatever challenge you’re facing, I hope that I can provide some encouragement.
Except there’s one problem. I can’t do it for myself.
That’s right. I have the least amount of confidence in myself of any person you will ever meet. I can’t think of one thing in my life—save for my daughter—that I’ve done and said “holy crap, that’s good!” I’ve been pleased enough with my work but I don’t believe anything I do is exceptional. Nor do I believe that I’ll ever succeed in a way that I deem sufficient.
This self-defeating attitude is why I didn’t start writing again until I was 31. When I was younger, I desperately wanted to be a writer. Of anything. Books, plays, movies. You name it, I wanted to write it. I was told that I was good but I never felt like I was good enough. I constantly compared myself to those I deemed more talented and convinced myself that I would never be as good as them (I still do this, by the way). I took criticism very personally; rather than as a way to improve, I saw it as an insult to me and my abilities. I carried that around with me through high school and eventually, when I got to college, I opted for a safe major rather than one that would make me happy. Being a criminal justice major made it easy to quit creative writing.
Well, almost. It didn’t make it easy rather than provide a convenient excuse. As a CJ major, I only had to write research papers. I’m good at that. And, on more than one occasion, my writing abilities made up for a sheer lack of understanding of the material (like my upper level Political Science class or, the reason I’m not a lawyer). I always loved writing papers. I could knock out a ten page paper in 2 hours and get an A. Writing just came that easy to me. But I always shook it off as no big deal. I certainly wasn’t the only one who could do that and my ability to do it was not that special. At least that’s what I told myself.
I kept up this way of thinking for a solid 10 years. I would lament over the fact that I never became a writer but told myself that I’d never be successful and it was best that I stuck with my safe government job. Writers, at least most of them, don’t make a lot of money and I had a house, child, bills and debt. There was no way I could give up my steady paycheck in favor of a pipe dream, especially without the talent to back it up. But then…blogs happened.
I started blogging in 2008 (on sites that I will never share. They’re that bad) just as a way to entertain myself. It was a cheap, easy way to fill the void that was created when I stopped writing all those years ago. I let myself entertain the notion that even if I couldn’t make a living writing, there was no reason I had to stop altogether. It could just be a hobby. Something to keep my skills fresh, my creativity alive and my spirit happy. Which it did at first.
Then it evolved into what it is now. Blogging has become more than just a hobby or a vehicle to achieve my dream of becoming a full-time writer. It’s become a way of life; it’s become part of my identity. I have grown so much from blogging. But putting my writing out there comes with a price. Every time I hit publish, I throw up a little. Because pushing publish means that my writing is out there. I second guess everything I’ve said, every punctuation mark, every opinion I’ve stated. And let’s not even go into the agony that is creating a title. Yet I still go through with it simply because I need to.
For someone with no self confidence, it’s terrifying to think about someone else’s opinion of my posts. I question all the time if a reader is thinking “this chick sucks. What business does she have writing in a public space? This drivel is nothing but eye pollution!” Believe me, I think that it happens way more often than it probably does (mainly because I typically say it in my own head first. I think it’s a defense mechanism; if I say it, then it hurts less if someone else says it, too). I still think it though.
The most difficult part is convincing myself that it’s not true. I desperately want to agree with those who tell me it’s not but after 34 years of thinking that I pale in comparison to everyone else, it’s hard to change my thinking entirely. That’s why I’m telling you all of this. Because when I’m encouraging you to believe in yourself that you can get out of debt or stay on track with your finances, I’m also saying it to myself.
We’re in this together.