Our doubts are traitors,
and make us lose the good we oft might win,
by fearing to attempt.
― William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure
Sometimes it takes a verbal sucker punch to light a fire under your butt.
It sounds counter intuitive, but a few weeks ago I got socked right where it counts and can assure you, an emotional black eye can (eventually) have a more positive, longer-lasting impact than a quick pat on the back and “you can do this.”
Several weeks ago, I was meeting some new people, including a budding young graphic artist wants to go into multimedia. When the conversation turned to what it takes to be a successful creative professional, the question of whether or not it’s worth doing came up.
My companion at this get-together meant to say “Hey, yeah it’s tough but Erica’s really good at it.” Instead, out came, “Oh yeah, Erica’s a writer and she gets laid off a lot.”
“She gets laid off a lot”?
A lot of people would shrug it off. But I’d been losing battle after battle to Self Doubt lately. So that offhand comment hit hard. All of my professional insecurities surfaced.
My history of rejection was put on display. In an instant, I became the living, breathing argument against being a creative professional.
Worse, instead of responding like a seasoned pro, I responded with “Uhhhh… errrrrr… ahhhhh… but right now, I’m doing this and that and um, oh yeah…I have a blog!”
We all have those moments. Conversations we wish we could rewind and plug in what we meant to say, what we should have said.
> I’m a professionally paid writer with a lengthy list of happy customers.
> I’ve been getting paid to write in one capacity or another for almost 13 years.
> I taught myself HTML, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator and Adobe InDesign. On the job. Without help.
> I wrote an entire library of marketing collateral (from scratch!) during my first role as a dedicated marketing writer.
> I wrote every word of the box copy for a best-selling software that sat on the shelves of the Apple Store.
> I adapted every time I was laid off and now have a diverse background and range of skills to show for it.
> I maintain my own blog, which has more than 200 followers! (That’s peanuts in the world of blogging but it blows my mind.)
> I’m an excellent networker because I’m generous with resources and because I genuinely care about other people.
This is to toot my own horn, but only to a certain extent. Because I’ve also learned that the keys to being a successful creative is being humble enough to accept guidance and wise enough to realize the work will never be done.
But this is also to highlight something we all know be need reminding of once in a while; your belief in yourself has to come from within.
And sometimes, being put on the defensive is the only way to make yourself stand your ground. I’ve just stood mine. I can’t go back and fix my response to the conversation, but I can keep this list for whenever Self Doubt starts yakking at me again.
Now here’s my challenge to you. Pretend someone says that one phrase that gets your goat. Then take your stand. Make your list. If you feel comfortable doing so, share your list in the comments.