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09 October 2010 @ 01:21 pm
The uselessness of self-doubt.....  
Without a doubt, I am one of those people who wants to be able to do everything well---ideally, the first time, and without a lot of effort. While this desire to excel is likely a positive quality, in some respects, the negative side of the coin is that, throughout my life, it's been something that limits and inhibits me.

I'm not by nature a lazy person; while I like to have fun, work on projects I enjoy, socialise, etc., it's amazing how many of my things to do turn into "events", things that can ultimately be judged by their success or failure. However, in my world, failure is always the worst thing that can happen, and can cause me to dismiss ideas, undertakings, areas in which I have some talent, and even people.

A good example of this has to do with my career path. For the majority of my life, there's nothing I've been more passionate about than performing. My life has been filled with singing, dancing, acting, and everything that goes with it---a somewhat brutal and competitive field at times, and not the perfect match for someone who is admittedly insecure, narcissistic, and extraordinarily sensitive. And yet, I not only kept this love of something I was good at in my life, even following harsh criticism or rejection, it's a field I continued to excel in. I knew I wasn't the best at what I did, but I was still better than most, and that was largely good enough for me.

Until, of course, one day, it wasn't. It wasn't once I moved to Atlanta and people I barely knew, who'd never seen me perform, dismissed what I did with "Do you make any money at that?" or "Oh, she's an actress...that must be why she seems so fake in real life.". I had "friends" and ex-boyfriends who laughed at me, told me I wasn't pretty enough or talented enough or likeable enough to ever make a real living doing this thing I loved...and strangely enough, I believed them. I haven't performed in front of anyone for almost five years, save the half-hearted audition here and there, because for the first time in my life, I doubted myself. Self-doubt leads to inhibition, and for an actor, inhibition is death. It was easier for me to say, "Well, maybe this isn't for me, I kind of suck.", even though I really had no basis for that conclusion other than a few hurtful remarks and a feeling of insecurity I used to be able to overcome.

I've always been insecure, but I've not really suffered from self-doubt in my life. In fact, for a great majority of it, I've believed I can do anything I set my mind to, and when I'm in that mindset, it's typically true. The trouble is, if I don't succeed the first time, there's rarely a "try again". It simply gets dismissed and I absorb it as a personality characteristic. I'm not good at cooking because I experimented once, and made something inedible. I'm not good at playing Frisbee or pool or bowling because I tried once, and the results were laughable. I'm not the corporate type because I had a corporate job once, and got fired. I'm not good at relationships because all of mine end in this complex burst of drama that isn't easy to just forget. The list goes on and on, and while some of these may be true, others are self-imposed limitations.

It occurred to me recently that there's many things I don't do, many doors in life I've never opened because I've dismissed them with "Well, I suck at that." Never mind that, many times, that assumption was based on me doing something I'd never done before, and nobody had ever attempted to teach me to do. What I generally dismiss as something I can't do typically means "I tried that once, it wasn't very successful, so I just don't have a natural talent/inclination for that".

While natural talent goes a long way, it's easy for people who have it in one area or another throughout their lives to rely on it a bit too much. It's easy to view natural talent as an excuse not to work, or learn, or put yourself on the line by trying something new, something you aren't brilliant at the first time, or even something you truly might suck at doing. In some ways, that's as much of a limitation and a handicap as not having any natural talents at all.

For one reason or another, I realised recently it's time for me to work on overcoming those limitations, and to not allow my fear of failure or being judged to stand in my way of reaching my full potential. After all, what's the worst thing that can happen? I can realise I've already reached my full potential, and the things I dismiss and don't do because I doubt myself are things I'm really not good at, and I'm just being realistic about my abilities. I can put myself out there and have people laugh at me, which hurts, but I've survived that.

My limitations aren't doing me any good, and nobody out there expects me to be perfect, exceptional, or even good at *anything* except for me. The people in my life aren't going to love me any less if I demonstrate I can't sing, dance, bake a pie, throw a Frisbee, or if other people just don't like me.

Well, at least, Trixie won't....as long as there's enough money left over every month for doggie treats.
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