When I’m in one of my gym classes, I can’t help but assess the assets in front of me. I size them up. Not to judge them in any way. It’s not about them at all. It’s about me. It’s about how I stack up.
Almost always I’m on the losing end of my self-assessment. No matter if I’m at my heaviest or at my most fit, I’m never good enough.
I’ve done this for as long I can remember. As a teen, I remember myself as the cute girl’s side kick; my best friend was really the one to want. I was always smart but never remarkably so, if you ask me.
20 years later and I haven’t changed. When I make cupcakes for my kids, I’ll always nod semi-approvingly and say, “They may not be so pretty, but they work.” When I put on a pair of favorite jeans, the best I can manage is, “They don’t look terrible.” When I size up those behinds in front me, I’m always shaking my head and accepting that while I could look worse, I don’t look all that good either.
Even with my latest manuscript, I have a very difficult time just admitting I think it’s good. If you ask me about it, I’ll first need to go through a bunch of hedging… “It’s not the same kind of writing as my essays… It’s just an easy beach read… It’s not going to win any awards or anything…”
Why do I undersell myself every chance I get? How can I expect anyone to take me seriously when I can’t even take myself seriously?
I’m always in awe of the people around me who possess the confidence to sell themselves. I remember at work watching guys march in and strut their stuff. Generally I never thought their ideas were any better than mine – often I didn’t think much of them at all; but they walked the walk, while I slouched and stumbled. They believed in themselves, while I always felt a bit like a fake.
Yet, day in and day out, I sit here and type away my thoughts, my stories, my life. And almost every day, I’m at that gym working my tail off, although mostly it stays on. I must think it’s worth something; I must think I’m worth something to keep at it.
And I guess I do. I mean, I do.
But admitting that puts all sorts of expectations out there. If I told people my book was great would they agree or be disappointed? I couldn’t stand the disappointment.
I read posts on Facebook by bloggers who confidently say things like, “I’ve written this really important piece that we need to be talking about.” And I’m fascinated. How do they say that about their own work? How do they put themselves on such a high level? Not only is their work ‘important’, but we, as a general population, should be discussing it?
Sometimes it makes me roll my eyes, embarrassed by their self-serving assertions, and other times I’m beyond impressed. Go them, I think. Kind of like when I first watched Lena doing her naked all over TV thing.
Like my grandmother would say, “No one’s gonna toot your horn but you.”
I think I need to start trusting myself and my talents. I need to start thinking that I am really good and worthy and deserve success. I mean, I’m smart, I’m funny and gosh darn it, people like me.
Now I’ve just got to believe it.
I often feel the same way but have been trying very hard to break that negative thinking habit and replacing it with a thinking positive habit. It really does work.
you’re right. when i’m positive, i’m so much more motivated. but sometimes that doubt seeps in and lingers. i know! thank you.
I hear you! I’ve struggled with self-doubt my entire life. I’ve never been that confident. Blogging has helped with that, though.
So are you smart enough, funny enough and gosh darn it, do people like you? I say to you, “believe it”.
i don’t know why it’s so hard to just say, yeah, I’m good. and i do kind of believe. but i always put that kind of in. what the hey is wrong with me. 😉
From what I’ve been starting to read on your site, you are already successful but we’re our own worst critics, aren’t we?
thank you. and yeah, that’s it. i guess i’m competing with myself.
I understand. Some of the best advice I’ve read on how we regard our own work: You have to be your own biggest fan. That’s so true.
that’s always been the toughest part for me. selling yourself is an absolute talent and skill.
I have all the faith in the world in you, but I understand. I’m not good at talking myself up, either. I’m always afraid of sounding arrogant.
RIght? It’s so hard. I feel like an ass, but I see it all over. The people who can sell themselves are the ones who get sold. Bleh! 🙂
Yup. Sad but true. Maybe you could get someone to pimp your work for you?
yes, that would be great. now if i could only sell myself to an agent. ha!
You better believe it mama! I am one big fan of your writing. You have this ability to draw emotions from your readers effortlessly. You just don’t know how many times I’ve been moved by your words. Own it!
Why do i find it so hard owning. I guess it’s a personality thing. Some people just have ‘it’. But thank you, really. Please put some sprinkles on that vanilla from me.
Ditto The Vanilla Housewife! I’m also reminded by an Interview I read with Dr. Brene Brown on “Daring greatly.” It’s tough to put yourself/your writing out there. ..to feel vulnerable. Because you ARE sharing your story you’re
Ugh sorry, you’re already overcoming some self-doubt that causes some people to not even try. Keep believing in yourself and working hard! Great things will happen!
thanks!! If you believe… right? 🙂
I have been working on this for so long that the money I have spent on therapy could buy a small house. I have to say that I am learning to look at myself with much kinder eyes. I sometimes feel doomed to be the understudy, or first-runner-up, yet I see that I have so much more power than I once thought I did. My ideas are good, I am worth something. I am good enough. And, I think the most important thing I”m realizing is that someone can be amazing and wonderful and talented and that doesn’t have to effect how I think of myself. Some days I’m better at it than others!
Ha. Well, at least i haven’t spent my money on therapy. But i have supported Edy’s and many other ice cream and local frozen yogurt shops pretty well. And it’s funny, how i have changed a bit with age. In some regards I don’t care as much what people think. If i did i guess i wouldn’t have put this essay up. 😉 but you are wonderful and talented and i know that to be true. but yeah, some days it’s harder to believe than others. Today i say, toot toot for us! 🙂
You struck a chord with me with this post. That fear of disappointing or being disappointed? Got that. That belief that I’ll never be that good? Oh yeah. Is there a magic pill to get our confidence level up? I wish there were.
i know. i wonder if it’s all a bit of a weird perfectionist thing, my fear of showing people that i’m not really that good. i use ice cream. it’s the only pill i’ve got. 😉
I can totally relate to this post. The title is perfect! I don’t know you beyond what I’ve read in the essays that you’ve shared on Yeah Write, but I think you are a talented writer. You should probably get a bigger horn – something deep and loud, and metal – not plastic! 😉
thank you. and i’ve just starting practicing on the kiddie one – tryng to turn my toot into a TOOT! 🙂
Definitely! I think one of those air horns should do the trick. It would be so fun to blow that.
Love, love, love this! Thanks for being so honest in sharing this; I think there are many out there like you (myself included) who need to hear this!
thank you!! i’m so happy i’m not alone!
Toot Toot!!! I’ll do it for you!!!
I think sometimes we become more vulnerable if we are not good about yourself.
i guess so. putting yourself out there is definitely scary.
Well said. I talk myself out of so many things. If I’m not in my own corner, who else will be?
i know! we need to be our own best advocates. but it’s really hard.
This is so me too. But you need to start tooting…figuratively…we all are going to toot the other way inevitably. Tell yourself that you are one hot, amazing-cupcake-making, literary genius momma and run with it. The more you say it, the more confidence you will build and eventually you will make yourself believe it. “If you build it, they will come”….that sort of applies….maybe 🙂
i’m going with it! or at least i’m going to try! i am one hot amazing cupcake making literary genius mamma! Toot toot!!
Here is what I have to say about this: Romance novels, often classified as “beach reads” themselves, sell more novels than any other genre of popular fiction in the world. They are fun and beautiful and just plain good books. And so is yours. Take the “just” out of “just a beach read.” I think that’s something to be proud of.
A well deserved toot! Great post 🙂
Omg. I swear we are the same person!!!
Sent from my iPad
ha! i think you’re more blonde. 🙂
As someone who’s been there, I learned that the same principle applies for tooting as for smiling. If you force yourself to smile and laugh it will often (not always) improve your mood. If you toot your horn, you start believing it too.
Just add a little humor — but not self-depreciating humor. You would be amazed at the fact that when you say “wait while I toot my horn” that people DO,
Know what helps me with this the most? My daughters. Think about it: you KNOW they are amazing, but more importantly you want THEM to know it. If they see you constantly devalue themselves, they will learn that it was they are supposed to do too. So stop doing it. Even if you don’t believe it at first, just the act of no longer verbally underselling yourself goes a long way. Before you know it, you will believe it.
AMEN. To every word. I call my book by the same language. Breezy. Beach read. It’s no masterpiece. It’s so painful to do that and I cannot stop. As for the body language, sometimes I can’t believe how much I hate my body and refuse to see it as good enough. It’s depressing.
Yes and yes. Why can’t we just own it?
I, and as I’ve read through the comment-many others, feel the same way. I’m likened to think that even the people that appear the most confident really aren’t all the time but somehow they just keep going. Lately, I’ve been trying to remind myself the old law of “thoughts are things”. It feels like wrestling marbles in my mouth to compliment myself on anything though so it’s a hard exercise to master. Maybe just try one thing a day. Own one small part of yourself or your amazing writing. Own it to yourself and see how it feels. The entire day. And go from there. Thoughts are things! 🙂
you’re right, thoughts like baby steps, one little good one at a time. should it really be so hard to be proud of yourself? sheesh!
oh man can I relate to this. all of it. but i know that omeday i’ll start tooting my own horn so loud people’ll think a semi is coming at them.
why someday? why not now? toot!
You should believe it. This is the first post of yours that I’ve read, but I know talent when I see it. You’re a very good writer, and I don’t lie. I wouldn’t bother commenting if I didn’t mean what I said. I look forward to reading more of your posts.
God bless you,
Thank you. That’s so very kind of you to say.
We live in a neighborhood in Boston which is mostly college students. I tried sizing myself against them in the gym for a while and gave up. I think the very best thing we can do is to challenge ourselves against ourselves. Shoot for personal best. I used to think, Oh, if I could just write like so and so, but we all have different styles and experiences. You are an excellent writer!
I’ve known a lot of writers, published and otherwise, and I find that in general we are not good self-promoters. That’s what agents and publicity departments are for!
yes, now if i could just get me one of those…
I’m so there with you.
let’s go somewhere else, shall we?
Ugh! I do the same thing. I find many of my female friends to but not my guy friends that much. Perhaps it’s, in part, differing cultural expectations between the sexes?
maybe.. it does seem to go that way.
I hear you on this. I am terrible not just about believing in myself, but also accepting compliments. This is something i do not want to pass on to my daughter. Am trying to make sure she knows that the proper response to a compliment is nothing more than a heartfelt thank you.
yes. i always stop myself after a compliment from blowing it off and now just really really try to say thank you. seems like it should be easy.
Absolutely! Get tooting! Great post.