It comes over you like a dark cloud and stays there peering down at you. You wish it would disappear or at least rain down quickly and move on. It does… eventually. But it doesn’t for a long time. This is my self-doubt. Yours might be different.
Why am I struggling with this? Why does it seem so difficult? Why am I dragging my feet? Am I meant to be doing something else altogether?
It usually arrives when I am feeling really stuck, like I have been recently.
I haven’t been able to write every day, something I promised myself at the beginning of the year and then again sometime ago. And I also haven’t necessarily felt good about what I have written of late.
The self-doubt also tends to coincide with my shift in focus from the process to the outcome. Then the reasonable thing to do would be to just focus on the process and forget all about the outcome. You reckon? But that is really really difficult to do. I have to focus on the outcome, once in a while. I can’t always stay fully zoomed-in, thinking only of the next sentence to type; or fully zoomed-out, mulling over ‘what am I trying to achieve in life’. I have to pause and reflect, focus on the intermediary—Where am I headed? What am I doing? Am I enjoying this? Am I rich and famous yet?
And it is in these moments that self-doubt strikes. And it muddles up my thoughts and throws in some criticism. And I can’t answer my own questions. So, clearly, others can't answer them for me.
I have also come to hesitate discussing my self-doubt with others. One—the popular belief that you are supposed to keep your problems private, doesn’t make it easy to talk about them openly. I believed in it for a long time, but it hasn't served me very well. So I write about it sometimes, like I am now, and try my best to not come across as a whiner. Even though I often worry that I sound like one. But hey, I try not to care. So I have gotten past that in some way.
And two—people love to offer solutions. They just can’t help it. Even if well-meaning, it is misplaced. People don’t like to sit across from you—literally or over a call—with uneasy feelings dangling in the air. They want to make the situation better. But the reality is, they simply can’t; no matter how much they love you.
Every person is on their own path, having their own struggle. The best thing a person can do to help is simply listen. But that is very difficult. I know that from experience—from the experience of being a terrible listener.
I have been the person that was quick to offer solutions. When someone tried to tell me a problem they had, I would start clearing my throat to offer them the perfect solution—god, was I annoying—loving the sound of my own voice, as I ‘cleared’ their doubts with a quip, like a smug godman. As I became more emotionally intelligent, I realised that I was being a dick. So I stopped advising others on how to live their life and became a lot more quiet.
And somewhere in the middle of your self-doubt (since you are already feeling vulnerable) comparison strikes:—
Look at him. His writing flows so well. He seems to be doing it with such ease. Your words don’t flow like that. Her songwriting—uff! And what a voice! How is his Twitter usage so prolific! He’s only 18?!
There are also technical doubts. The posts I spend more time to write are the posts that make me feel good. So then why am I trying to post something every day? Why not just write once/twice a week? And pat comes the answer—because I will write something last minute anyway.
No matter how hard I try, these are not answers I can find immediately. I just need to keep going and improvise whatever I am doing, untill it all somehow clicks in place.
All I know is that I have to keep taking action. That seems to be one antidote to self-doubt, even if it is temporary.