I haven’t been in a good place lately. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been stuck at the house for too many weeks now, just me and the animals. Normally, I’m good with this, being the kind of person perfectly capable of entertaining myself and enjoying my own company, but with the frequent storms, I haven’t been as active and I’ve had a little too much time to brood. I’ve been indulging in too much comfort food and I’m seeing a number on the scale I’ve never seen before.
I suspect too, it’s the time of year. We’ve had our pretty snows and our bitter temperatures. Now we’re sliding–literally–into the Season of Mud. For the next month or so, everything will be ankle deep in mud here. It’s so thick, deep, and clinging that it can suck the boots right off your feet. It cakes everything: your shoes, your car, the dogs, the carpets… Walking with several pounds of mud attached to your feet is a chore, and it feels like it will never get any easier.
I believe self-doubt is like that. It’s not that it prevents me from writing, but it does make everything slower and harder. I’ve actually written 22.8 K words this month, and yet it is all like ashes to me because I think what I’ve written is utter crap. With the frame of mind I’m in right now, if I read something amazingly good, I am discouraged because I will never write anything that fantastic. If I read something appallingly bad, I’m discouraged because that book has is out there making money, and people seem to love it, and what does that say about the industry–and my place in it–as a whole? At the moment, I am quite discouraged about my writing. I’m not convinced I know how to tell a decent story. Worse, I’m afraid I’ll never get any better at this. Like I said, not in a good headspace.
I’ve never been one of those people good with the concept of ‘act as if’ or ‘fake it til you make it.’ I understand the concept. It’s not outside my capabilities: I’ve done a lot of theater in my time. The problem for me always lay in that if I didn’t believe in said ‘fact’, I couldn’t sustain an attitude of belief. I can’t act sexy, or confident, or successful if deep down I don’t believe I’m any of these things. If I think someone is going to come up behind me and whisper, “Fraud.”
I’ve always wondered what the secret was. How some people could walk forward exuding confidence or sex appeal, when to the initial glance, they appear rather ordinary. How anyone could simply have that kind of utter belief in themselves that they weren’t shaken not only by self-doubt, but the put-downs and negative comments of others. It was always so chicken-and-egg to me. How do you take as your own what you don’t have?
Earlier this morning a meme was circulating Facebook that was posted by Meryl Streep, in which she related how, on being turned down for a movie role, she was told she was too ‘ugly’ for the part. She said she could have let that shatter her dreams of being an actress, but instead it forced her to believe in herself. She told the casting director, “I’m sorry you think I’m too ugly for your film, but you’re just one opinion in a sea of thousands, and I am off to find a kinder tide.” She’s won eighteen Academy Awards. Eighteen! (I had no idea!)
So I guess the answer is you don’t wait until you feel sexy or smart or accomplished. You simply decide you are these things. And act accordingly.
So tell me, what is holding you back and how do you plan to overcome it? Has anyone ever told you that you were wasting your time trying for something? That you had no talent or ability. That your best wasn’t good enough? How did you deal with that? I want to hear your stories!
From now until Wed Feb 24th, if you leave a comment, someone will be picked at random to win their choice of any of my available books. You don’t have to enter the giveaway to leave a comment though! I want to hear your stories of perseverance in spite of doubt.