I often pronounce (as a loud inside thought) that I don’t believe in myself. I can’t do the thing. I’m not good enough. I hide and push away ideas for months at a time. And yet I am still here. Seeking.
Creatively, I usually jump on something with a frisson of energy and suffer enthusiasm burnout, unprepared for the endurance required. Or, I let an idea sit until it festers or I see it land Big Magic-style with someone else - this being the confirmation I was probably looking for all along to talk myself out of starting or sticking with an idea I’ve had.
I believe the thought, and I have affirmed that belief by repeating it over and over again. And while there are some ways of being that are just who we are, there are others that we tell ourselves that we are.
Just recently, my logical brain, perspective and a long road of unlearning joined forces and came into play with a single thought that countered that regular story. A new train of thought left the station, and before long, I had a list of reasons to the contrary.
I want to share a few of them with you, and challenge you to make a list of your own (about whatever you feel this speaks to for you), because as much as we say we don’t believe in ourselves, the things we do, try, pay for and even fail at, tell us that on some level, we do.
I bought the Hello Time Planner in the photo. I had about three on my shortlist and dithered over whether I should spend the money given my lack of creative presence and aforementioned belief. Additionally, something that I know to be true about myself is that I can be a big proponent for having all the things and yet none of the action. And yet, I bought it… and I’m using it.
The podcast microphone I bought on Black Friday, and have finally unboxed today for this very post you are hearing read to you.
The branding project that Sarah Robertson completed at the beginning of 2022… as a creative still trying to figure out who I was and convince myself that my creative expression was useful, of merit and understood. Oh, and who had just decided to go back to work full-time. That person believed in even the possibility of what she might create one day. Even if that day wasn’t in sight.
The money spent on a DIY Squarespace website design course (that I will likely never use).
That I paused rather than cancelled many of the subscription tools that I use for my creative work.
The life coaching course I signed up for. And wonder if I’ll ever start.
Making dedicated spaces in my mind, my days and my environment for ideas to come and words to flow. That person believes in her ideas.
Between March 2020 and January 2023 I said yes a lot. To new opportunities, experiments and ideas. Over and over again. This post is proof that I am still saying yes.
I said no to doubt. Over and over again.
The website I quickly put together in 2020, so I could act before overthinking stopped me. That person put curiosity into action. That woman believed in herself.
The website copy I invested in at the end of 2022, when I’d all but disappeared from the internet for months on end. That woman believes in what she had spent two years creating.
I tuned in and said no where required. When the time wasn’t right, and when other parts of life needed to take precedence.
The digital notes, post-its, voice notes, business journals that something tells me to keep hold of. That woman believes in herself, even in the long pauses.
Each yes to a podcast invitation or yes in pressing publish was a yes to developing my voice and finding my way.
Ideas I revisit every few months. The ones that are in a period of idea incubation that often feels like it lasts frustratingly too long. That woman trusts that they’ll come.
And for every idea that has expired, and each draft that will never see the light of day, there is a recurrent returning. I come back. I show up for myself and my ideas again. That woman believes in herself.
As much as I say I don’t believe in myself, I have done all of these things that say otherwise. These are not failures. They are evidence that I can still conjure hope.
I think you may be able to write a similar list. One that speaks to the efforts you keep making. The desire you have to remain on a certain road or hold onto the interests you want to, no matter how closely or loosely you hold them. The things we do that say, “you stayed. You came back. You never really left.” The things we do that say we believe in ourselves.
Thanks for reading A Life of Words. Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
This really connected deeply for me. I've been working on the idea of how my actions, not matter how small, are all votes for the type of person I am, that piece of evidence you mention here. And yet, I hadn't considered some of the evidence that you've listed. And, now I feel that my voting pots have more in them than I first thought. The smile that it's brought my face.
Relating deeply to this and even to some of the specific things on your list. Such a lovely reminder that I’m not failing, I keep coming back.