December 30, 2021

Overcoming Self-Doubt to Write a Book.


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Yes, that’s right. You’ve read the title correctly.

I’m planning on writing my first book in the upcoming year and this time around, I’ll be damned if I let anything or anyone prevent me from finishing it.

You see, for the majority of my life, I believe I’ve had what is most commonly known as Imposter Syndrome. At its core, Imposter Syndrome confers a deeply seated, maladaptive belief. It refers to the perception that you are not as capable as others may perceive you, that you’re a fraud, and that everything you have already accomplished wasn’t all that important or otherwise not a valid reflection of your own abilities.

In hindsight and being the self-analyst that I naturally am, I now realize that there were a few things that may have contributed to this destructive thinking pattern—one of them being my family of origin. I didn’t grow up watching the adults around me take many risks. Instead, they always seemed to prefer to remain stagnant, to dip their feet into shallow water and wait for their imaginary ship to come in. Sailing through a more turbulent current for them inferred too many potentially dangerous probabilities.

Most people are a product of their upbringing and I am no different. Whether my parents realized it or not, I was raised to be fearful of the world, and in turn, to doubt myself.

I used to find myself envious of friends and even partners who seemed less afraid and more certain of themselves. I yearned to be more like them, but I didn’t have the prerequisites for that level of self-assurance. It was something I had to slowly come to terms with and eventually cultivate in myself with more time and experience under my belt.

Truthfully, I’m still working on developing and harnessing this disowned and untapped confidence, but having the awareness that it hasn’t ever come naturally to me, knowing my triggers and reparenting myself through a set of actions that force me to face the things that most frighten me head-on, and adopting a more positive internal dialogue has made some difference.

Now, for instance, whenever I find myself taking the same route to the same place in fear of getting lost or refusing to accept a healthy and valid opportunity due to the concern that it or I may fail, I try to use enough discernment, and if reasonable, force myself to grab it if it feels right—regardless of the hypothetical outcome.

Another thing that facilitated this Imposter Syndrome is having attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and chronic fatigue, both of which have thrown me a fair number of challenges throughout the years. The executive issues that come with ADHD can obscure my vision and limit my capacity to plan for the delayed future. I remain locked in to the present and everything that feels compelling or stimulating in the immediate moment has my undivided attention, regardless of whether it deserves to or is even beneficial at the time.

I once heard a psychiatrist on YouTube who specializes in ADHD say he had a particularly articulate patient with the disorder who put it this way. He said, “My mind is a great sprinter but a horrible long-distance runner.” I felt that, and until recently, a part of me continued to wonder whether or not I am simply lazy or relentlessly undisciplined.

Due to this, I’ve thought how on earth could I ever get started on much less finish a book? It bothers me that in the past, I would often start a new routine with enough gumption and enthusiasm only to become bored with it soon thereafter and veer off the chosen path.

However, working with a bright, loving, and capable child with ADHD has made me revisit this aspect of myself. I see tiny pieces of me in this child and having an appreciation for her uniqueness by default makes me less farsighted in the face of my own. This girl, like me, struggles to sustain focus on tasks she finds monotonous or downright uninteresting. However, she is also a friendly, gregarious, and keenly perceptive child. In addition, she is empathetic toward the feelings of others and often makes me laugh with her witty comments.

Because of her, I remember myself when I was seven years old, looking out the window and daydreaming about what I wanted to play and to imagine out there instead of sitting in a chair for several hours while staring at a chalkboard in a room that, to me, represented the closest thing to a prison cell. I was this girl.

And you know what? I’ve learned that being this girl can be the messiest and most marvelous thing in the world. She has an imagination that could awaken the sun in a darkened sky. This, to me, is just as impressive as having a talent in math or any other subject for that matter. Creativity lights up the earth and she has it in abundance. I do too, in my own way. Both she and I are aware of our shortcomings, but I now just as seamlessly recognize our strengths—and largely, thanks to her.

In me, a quiet yet resolute voice whispers this is my world while I’m here, too. Instead of seeing my challenges as something that may prevent me from doing what it is that I feel most called to do, I’m going to bend and twist them to become my own alchemist. Time is precious and I’ve had enough pain to transmute it into something meaningful to me—something that will inevitably outlive me.

Furthermore, I see all kinds of other people—ones I’d otherwise never expect—out there doing great things. Why not me this time around? That is a pivotal question I often ask myself when in doubt. What is life if not a challenge, anyway? If they can do it, so can I and gosh, do I owe it to myself to try. I am a good person and I want good things for myself.

Aside from the invisible issues I’ve faced, I have also come to terms with the finite nature of all that exists. Since 2013, I’ve lost five extended family members and two precious animals. More time on this earth is, as we know, never guaranteed. I’ve moved to the United States, gotten married, and then divorced. I then legally surrendered my Green Card and moved back to Canada.

Very shortly thereafter, I unexpectedly met a person I fell head over heels with and who, as mentioned in a previous article, cracked my core and turned me inside out. Soon after I met her, I felt called to grow and to expand my horizon. After that relationship ended, I felt a loss so deep it nearly killed me. Nearly every single day that passed had me asking myself whether I wasn’t good enough for her. I berated myself for the mistakes I made in the relationship. I compared myself unfavorably to everyone and everything else in her life, believing I did not measure up to some unspoken standard.

Since I’ve seen that encounter for what it was truly meant to impart, I have since mostly forgiven the situation. Furthermore, it has only fueled my fire to live and love myself more fully and unapologetically. If I’m not good enough for her, I eventually told myself, it is all the more imperative that I live the rest of my life conducive to my own happiness and sense of self-worth.

Besides, one of the things I admired most about her was her own capacity to remain proactive and self-assured. Time and experience have since revealed to me my own unique brand of persistence. It may be more quiet and less noticeable than hers was, but it is in me nonetheless. It has empowered me.

After the 2020 lockdown and following that last devastating breakup, I met a woman with four children under the age of 10. She wanted to pursue a career in photography but felt she couldn’t due to the overarching, full-time responsibility that is being a mother. I recall feeling a peculiar sense of guilt after she told me this. I am not burdened with children, I thought to myself. I have the time she doesn’t have to pursue my dream. What on earth has been stopping me all this time? I pondered that question more deeply than ever before. It made me desire to become more intentional. I had no excuse not to. I knew I was privileged in this way among others.

Years ago, on the other hand, I never would have seen myself as privileged, despite knowing the inherent benefit that comes with being white and able-bodied, for example. I saw just as many obstacles along my path. Although I knew I was meant for something better, I didn’t quite know what better meant or what it looked like for me.

For some reason or other, I couldn’t seem to materialize better and only continued to second-guess myself and my decisions. I only really knew what I didn’t want instead of knowing what I did. Writing was always something I enjoyed, but I certainly didn’t see a future in it because it wasn’t practical enough.

As a result, I felt a pervasive sense of lack and destabilization in my life. I always felt so heavy. I graduated from college and got a job, but none of the roles I played in the so-called real world ever felt authentically me. Sometimes they even felt as though they weighed me down.

For a long time, I felt as though my purpose was to be a healer and to help people, so I got some work experience answering distress calls only to realize in hindsight that I feel more cynical, jaded, and drained after each shift than before I started answering the phone line. If this is the way you feel now, could you just imagine doing this for the better part of your life? I asked myself that question, too.

The answer, I eventually heard, was an emphatic no. Being an empath, I’ve learned, isn’t something I wish to capitalize on. Sometimes it feels as though it has harmed me more than it has helped me. Still, I followed my hunch and continued to question how I would incorporate the role of both a healer and a creator into my life. I remained mystified. This time, however, I have made my mind up. I’m certain I only want to do the things that revitalize me. I want more passion, more zest in my life. I want to wake up most mornings and say: I’m going to do what I love today, and man oh man, am I excited for this gift.

While I realize it is a privilege to think that way or even have those kinds of expectations in the first place given the kind of economy we currently live in, I also know that the price for not following what I feel called to do is likely far more expensive. Writing is the one thing I can spend hours upon hours on end doing without watching the clock. Writing brings me more joy than anything I’ve ever done. After I’ve finished an article, I linger in the experience of complete unbridled satisfaction that lasts for several hours or up to a few days.

No other love affair has ever felt so fulfilling to me. How could I ever pass that up? How could I ever let that go? My love for writing feeds and sustains me. It’s the brightest and hottest sun that has ever embraced me.

No, I won’t give up my day jobs to call myself a writer. No, I am under no delusion that I could ever sustain myself as a writer. However, I do know that no matter what I do during the day, I will always be a writer by night. I will always be a writer at heart. And last but not least, I will write that first book this upcoming year, regardless of any fears or doubts that may undoubtedly creep up.

This is a promise to myself I refuse to break this time.


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