Taking a stand against Self Doubt

Our doubts are traitors,
and make us lose the good we oft might win,
by fearing to attempt.
― William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure 

Pink Duckey, Bring It
Let’s see your war face!

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.

18 thoughts on “Taking a stand against Self Doubt”

  1. Love this post, Erica. Reminded me almost of an Ally McBeal moment when you just want to fall into the floor – even though you know you are wonderful and talented, and it is just the way this gig goes. Fab list by the way. Definitely one to proudly refer back to the next time the self-doubt monster strikes. You’ll be better prepared, and so will the readers of your blog.

  2. Glad that I found your blog Erica,

    As was mentioned, I’d drop that person as a friend quickly! As Kendra mentioned, one has to know when someone is plying their “mind poison”/dumping their crap on you. And as Kendra mentioned, sometimes we really have to remind our parents that we are grown!

    Now I’m really glad to have found your blog. I needed it today. I’m going to perform my own personal inventory exercise. And heck, there’s no such thing as a freelancer who doesn’t get laid off! That’s the downside of the life we choose. However, the benefits FAR outweigh those dry spells.

    That so called friend of yours reminds me of so many people I had in my life who exploited my pain to make themselves feel better. Now, I’d drop-kick their arses so fast, figuratively speaking of course, lol.

    By the way, you just won over another blog subscriber. Yeah you!!!!

    1. Hi Terri, Thanks for stopping by! And subscribing. 🙂 (It’s always a huge compliment.)

      And yes, the benefits of what we do far outweighs the dry spells. I love what I do. And the best thing that came out of that exchange was my realizing how good I am at it. I think everyone, regardless of their career or passion in life, should write down their successes and milestones. Helps keep the focus and the faith.

  3. Hi Erica, I’m glad you were able to turn the negative into possitive energy and use to propel you forward. Just make sure that you don’t dwell on the offense and the anger because that will backfire. Instead just keep moving forward.

    1. Hi Peter, you make an excellent point. One that we would all do well to remember. This is about focusing on our strengths and accomplishments and using that to help us remember how terrific and valuable we are, not staying angry at the slings and arrows of others.

  4. Erica, I soooo understand what you’re saying! I’ve had to stand against two doubters, one ancient and one recent, as well as my own self-doubts. This is rather long, though, so if you want to skip over it, that’s okay.

    My late mother’s favorite saying to me was, “You can’t because…” She’d follow that with some really logical (but emotionally devastating to me) reason why I couldn’t (or shouldn’t) do whatever it was. For years, I believed her.

    My response, finally, was: “Mom, I’m 42. I can do whatever I damn well want to do! I’m a single mother of two well-behaved kids. I’ve worked for most of my adult life in spite of being bipolar. I’ve done so much on so little for so long that I can do almost anything with nearly nothing. Don’t tell me ‘I can’t, because…’!”

    She stopped saying it after that.

    My daughter and son-in-law teased me about “being too old to understand computers and cell phones.” (I’m 57, they’re 27.) I believed them for awhile, too, until finally I realized that I knew things they didn’t. I asked them, “Okay, if you’re so smart, tell me this: which of you two knows how to put together a website, or write a blog? You know how to play complex games, but can either of you use Word or Excel beyond the basics, or know even the basics of Publisher, Access or PowerPoint? Or Open Office? Can you put together a brochure or newsletter? What do you know about writing an RFP – and do you even know what one is?”

    They looked at each other and then said, “No, but we don’t need to know those.”

    “Exactly,” I said. “I don’t need to know how to play a computer game. I do need to know how to use the programs, create a website and write grant proposals. I ask about what my cell phone can do only when I need to. The rest I’ve learned on my own. Which means I know more about how to do certain things on the computer and on the Internet than you do.”

    They shuteth up.

    1. Way to “shuteth” them up. (I love that phrase.) 🙂

      Good for you for standing up for yourself. It sounds like you’re a lot stronger than even you may think. Sometimes taking a stand against our closest, dearest loved ones is the hardest stand to take. And it must be harder when you’re both a mother and a daughter. But sometimes it’s also the biggest wake-up call to realize your own worth.

      (And incidentally, I would never “skip over” a comment like this. If you’re going to take the time to share something like this, your comment will get my full attention. 🙂 )

      1. 😀 Thank you. If I hadn’t recently gone to counseling, I’m not sure I’d have caught onto the kids’ mind poison as quickly as I did. The counseling took only five months to heal the worst of my anger and self-doubts, mainly because I worked on me via her suggestions.

        I tend to think people are basically good, so sometimes the insults from others (up front or backhanded) go over my head. Because I didn’t catch it I don’t react. They blink. It’s when I realize (later) what they’ve said that I have to evaluate whether it’s worth getting annoyed over it, worth taking them to task about it or just letting it go for now, realizing that they might try it again. By then, I’ve an answer, if only to say in a very disappointed tone, “I thought you were above that kind of thing.”

        Freudian slips don’t count, although they do make me think. 😀

        1. Yeah, that happens to me a lot, too. Most often I let it go, but again, sometime there are those conversations you wish you could go back and edit your response. 🙂

  5. Erica

    If someone said to me “This is Kevin. He’s a copywriter. He get’s laid off a lot” I’d burst out laughing and say something like “I think that’s pretty well the same for every writer”.

    But then again, when someone’s having a dig, it’s much harder to think straight at that very moment.

    1. I love that! Am going to remember that next time, thanks. 🙂

      And really, even non-writers get laid off left and right these days. Earlier this year I worked with a developer who’d only been laid off once. My reaction? “That’s IT?”

  6. Wow, that’s tactless to say the least. But good for you for turning it around and using it as a wake up call to reaffirm what you already know!
    And that’s a pretty darn impressive list, missy. Keep it up! (I’m going to work on my list this week and hang above my laptop.)

    1. Thank you, Sandra. That’s a high compliment, especially coming from you. Would love to see your list if you ever feel inclined to share it. I’m sure you’ve done some pretty amazing stuff.

  7. I hope you don’t associate with that person anymore LOL. That’s exactly why I’m doing that presentation on freelancing. Being laid off a lot is an indicator of strength, not that you are incapable of being successful! Ggrrrrrrrrr!

    Unfortunately I have also felt like a failure after my multiple jobs, but I have contributed a lot:
    1) Introduced a hot Q&A section for the largest paper in SC with *real* celebrities

    2) Introduced or improved newsletters for multiple organizations.

    3) I think I have over 100 blog followers now yay!!

    4) Since October, I have contributed to countless blogs and publications and developed a rapport with local influencers as well.


    1. Okay, now that’s a pretty good list of successes. Way. To. Go! And I’ve read a bunch of your guest posts. You do some pretty nice work, woman. 🙂

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