I’ve noticed a common theme in my life and in the lives of people close to me lately, and it seems to be feelings of insecurity and inadequacy. I may have felt this way before last week, but before that I was in a California daze. And before that I was in a loss of Stormy daze. And before that, who knows? I was probably upset about Scarlet getting hurt. I still am, by the way. It comes and goes in waves.
What I do know is that throughout my post high school life, I have alternated between feeling on top of the world and powerful or feeling like a flaming piece of crap. Unfortunately, sometimes there’s not much of an in between. These highs and lows run with the highs and lows of anxiety that I sometimes write about. They’re surely connected. And the highs can last for years without one peek at a low. And there have been lows that have lasted up to a year at times. They weren’t episodes of depression – just episodes of lack of confidence. As I have also written about and won’t go into today, I can be your classic underachiever – I am capable of a lot more but I still go for things a level or two below what I can do.
The personal life thing? It’s mostly ok, or at least stable. I do think I’m a good mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend. It’s not perfect but it’s not usually the problem. Honestly, I do go through phases where I think I’m worthless and ugly and wonder why anyone would be friends with me. I do. Luckily my older friends have stuck by me through everything and I have stopped wondering about why they like me. I know they do and that’s good enough for me. My newer friends mostly know I suffer from occasional cripplingly low self confidence and they’re pretty understanding of that. I think my current problem is more about where I am in my life, career wise. Sure, feelings of career inadequacy can overlap with general inadequacy and during a career lull, I might feel out of place at a party or in a group of people with Scarlet present. I’m her mom but sometimes I feel like other people are all better with her than I am. It’s ridiculous, I know. She loves me a lot. I know this. She cries when I leave the room. She greets me with open arms when I come back into the room. Low self confidence isn’t rational. And knowing it’s irrational often doesn’t make it go away.
Yesterday, I posted on Facebook about not feeling like I’m great at any one thing. I’ve been feeling very confused about what I want to do with my life and feeling like even if I figure it out, I won’t have the guts to try it out. And there are so many ideas I have but I don’t believe in myself and it manifests as laziness and I just get too tired and overwhelmed to do anything at all, rather than worry about doing many things. And of course there are complications such as Cassidy’s job situation and Scarlet and money and time. There are many ways to make money in this world. The problem is that I’m hugely disinterested in the several fields I see people I know grow successful in. The truth is – I just don’t care about corporate life or being a doctor or a lawyer.
What surprised me last night was the successful, together people who I look up to commenting on my Facebook status that they feel the same or have. And the smart, awesome friends I talk to who also feel at a crossroads in their careers. And then I wonder – if people I look up to also feel insecure even though in my mind they shouldn’t, then maybe that means that in their minds, I shouldn’t feel like a flaming bag of crap. And that made me feel a bit better. I’m not comforted by the fact that we all might feel inadequate or worthless or insecure. I’m comforted by the fact that we can’t all be right in our negative feelings of ourselves, so maybe we’re all wrong. And we rock.
It helps me to think of Annie Lamott’s “Bird by Bird.” It’s a book of instructions for life and writing, and it references her little brother agonizing over a last minute book report about birds that he has due the next day or so. And I believe their father offers some of the best advice I’ve ever heard in my life, “Just take it bird by bird.” I tend to think of all of the pieces of a project I have to do and then I get too overwhelmed and shut down and become tired and incapable of working on even one piece of the project. And the projects are big. I want to learn Photoshop. I want to learn social media marketing. And then I look at the many complex features of both and the questions that are raised, and how technology keeps changing anyway and you have to grow with it and…I just lose my mind a bit. A friend in California gave me great advice. She has the same camera as me and also doesn’t know how to use it completely. A professional photographer friend of hers gives her important tips maybe once a week. Just a tip a week. And she fully examines that one tip and will probably be better in the long run for using that slow and steady learning pace. Piece by piece. Bird by bird. That’s always worked for me in the past and I aim to use it right now.
I had no idea I was going to write a whole post about my overwhelmed and inadequate feelings of late. I feel better now. Really.