So, I have a confession… I struggle with severe self-doubt.
There, I said it. (And trying hard to not delete that sentence) And some of you are probably going “You, and everyone else. Get in line lady”.
I’ve always been this way. I just have extremely high expectations of how things should be and low expectations of my ability to follow through. I mean, you can’t phrase this as a 5 year old, but it’s the same idea.
It is interesting to have high expectations and all the faith in the world that you are unable to meet said expectations.
Yesterday I had to do a presentation in class. I am good in school, but that sneaky self-doubt came in and I got so nervous when I was speaking that I was shaking. Usually I have no problem with public speaking. But this whole presentation I was a little unsure of. There were really no guidelines on what makes a good presentation, so I winged it. I hate winging things. I don’t like adventure, I need to know where I am going.
I did my presentation on Katherine Mansfield. A writer in the early 20th century. She was a rebel her entire life. She seemed to care little of what other people thought of her and was able to stay true to herself. Her personal life was a mess, but she was a genius at her writing. Writing was her life. I envy people like this. People who are so confident in their abilities that they can literally achieve anything they put their minds to. My victories are usually marred with a sort of “that could have been better” speech. Or I am usually so certain that what I wrote was a failure that I often put down the person giving me the grade by thinking “He must not have wanted to grade” or “She must be an easy grader”. Most of the time it’s a little of both.
Virginia Woolf also struggled with self-doubt her entire life. She was friends with Katherine Mansfield and it is rumored that if it had not been for Katherine’s encouragement, that Virginia wouldn’t have published “Mrs. Dalloway”. What a great friend.
I ran across a few quotes from Katherine Mansfield, that helped me through my presentation. She was a prolific writer, but she was also a great encourager. She had such a love for the art of writing that nothing was going to stand in her or anyone else’s way. Here are some of her words that I’ve kept with me today:
“Risk! Risk anything! Care no more for the opinions of others, for those voices. Do the hardest thing on earth for you. Act for yourself. Face the truth.”
“When we can begin to take our failures seriously, it means we are ceasing to be afraid of them. It is of immense importance to learn to laugh at ourselves.”
“Make it a rule of life never to regret and never to look back. Regret is an appalling waste of energy, you can’t build on it it’s only good for wallowing in.”
What am I sacrificing today out of fear and self doubt? Connection with others? Writing a new story? What voice am I listening to that is stopping me from my true potential?
Fear is tricky, but if our literary icons can find a way through, we must forge ahead and deal with the fear. Learn to risk. I am thankful to Katherine Mansfield for her words.