Doubt

A seed

in a wayward wind it blew,

it lit on me

took root, and grew.

The soil was rich,

and fertile, too.

And from that seed

a vine did sprout-

a pesky weed,

a creeping doubt-

came winding in

and winding out.

It grew so fast

and so complete,

it bound my hands

and bound my feet-

I can’t advance,

I can’t retreat.

This pestilential plant I’ve found

has got me rooted to the ground,

but I can’t make a single sound.

I just let it take me down.

Doubt is such a tricky thing. Even the spelling is tricky. Pretty sneaky, silent b! Doubt is an uncertainty, a mistrusting. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I mean, I believe it’s important to face life with a healthy skepticism. You know, take everything with a grain of salt. What I have, and what this poem is referencing, is a crippling self-doubt. A doubt in my abilities, a doubt in my intelligence, a doubt in my worthiness. And this feeling persists regardless of any evidence to contrary. No amount of success has been able to erase it.

Apparently this feeling has a name- impostor syndrome. It’s the feeling that any achievement or success a person may experience is based on luck, or charm, or any other factor rather than actual knowledge, experience, competence, etc. I cannot believe or accept that I’ve earned or deserved any award or accomplishment I’ve received in my whole life ever. All my degrees and certificates are shoved in a box in the back of a closet somewhere because they aren’t real, they are meaningless, and I don’t deserve them. I always feel like I’m in over my head, but at the same time I have to keep pushing myself to do more and be more because I crave validation. Gold stars, pats on the back, affirmations, whatever. I’m a big black hole of need. So I work too much, I take on extra responsibilities, I over-prepare and yet the cycle continues. Nothing is ever enough, nothing satisfies. The voice in my head tells me, “You don’t deserve this.” “Don’t get a big head- nobody likes a know-it-all.” and the one that makes me the most sad, “Who are you to want this, to dream this?”

So in a weird way, impostor syndrome pushes me and holds me back at the same time. I feel like I excel at being mediocre. I’m afraid to try new things because I don’t think I’ll be successful, but even if I was successful it wouldn’t be good enough. I think even if I won a Nobel Prize, the voice in my head would say, “So what? Anybody could do that.”

OK, so you have a problem. But what to do about it? I did some reading and research (because of course I did…) and I found this article from The Muse to be helpful. I need to be more mindful of the way I think and speak about myself and my accomplishments. Stop seeking external validation, and learn to cultivate internal validation. Take risks, try new things, and focus more on the process, not the product. Screw up and be OK with it. And finally, make friends with that inner voice. If I can’t shut her up, at least I don’t have to listen to her.

To this end, I’ve decided every month to try something new, something that pushes me out of my comfort zone. Something I might even (gasp!) NOT BE GOOD AT. Something at which I might even (gulp!) FAIL. I have no idea what this will look like or how it will unfold, because I’m so deeply entrenched in my comfort zone that I can’t even see beyond it. So in the coming days and weeks I’ll be doing some soul searching and reflecting. What is something I’ve always wanted to try? What would I love to do if I wasn’t afraid? Amazingly, these questions draw complete blanks. I have no idea. So I guess this month’s adventure is compiling a list. Which on the surface seems boring and stupid, but hey, you have to start somewhere.

And I’ll learn to embrace my inner impostor along the way.

To 2016… and beyond!

(This was originally posted on another blog I had a few years ago, I just updated it to re-share.)

To 2016… and beyond!

If you know me, you know that I am OCD about haiku.

counting syllables
five, then seven, then five more
I can’t help myself

What you may not know, is that I’m the same way about acrostics.

Always trying to
Come up with words worth
Reading up, down and
Over
So I can
Tell my feelings about
Ideas in a
Clever way.
See?

It’s what I do.  It helps me wrap my mind around an idea. Anyway, I came across some acrostics I wrote several years ago when I was going through a trying time, and they seemed relevant today. So here are some thoughts for the new year, 2016.

Moving forward
Only limited by
My thoughts
Ever changing
Never still
Tireless in my efforts
Unencumbered by
My past

(I thought about changing the last two lines to Until I reach My goal, but that’s not how it was written originally, so I didn’t)

On Discipline:

Distractions are
Inevitable but
Stay the
Course
It may be
Painful, but in the
Long run
It will pay off
Never fail to meet your
Expectations of yourself.

On Choices:

Choices we make can
Help or hurt
Ourselves and others
It would be wise to
Consider
Every outcome before
Selecting

On Courage:

Carrying
On,
Understanding that
Real bravery means
Always
Going forward
Even when you’re afraid

This one, for my broken hearted single friends,
On SolitudeSpending time
Occasionally in
Lonely
Isolation can be
Therapeutic.
Understanding hurt
Does not come
Easy

This one, as I try to cast a vision for what I want to accomplish in this new year:
Visualization
Is calling
Something
Into being
Out of
Nothing
You know, all creation takes place first in the mind, then in the world. Dream it, be it, make it so. But in order for visualization work, you have to have clarity:
Clearing away the debris
Littering the path to self-
Actualization
Realizing your potential
Is possible when you
Truly focus on the road before
You
For me personally, clarity here means freedom from the influence of the demands and opinions of others. Clarity of mind, clarity of vision, clarity of purpose.
Well, there you are, friends.  Here’s to a healthy, prosperous new year! Happy 2016!!