Food is symbolic of love when words are inadequate – Alan D. Wolfelt
It’s only been a couple of weeks since I wrote a post on how my superpower is self-doubt.
I received several lovely comments on that post, with others saying they struggle with the same thing. Stephany‘s comment, in particular, stood out to me. What if, instead, I asked myself what would happen if something actually went well?
A few days later, I got the weekly edition of an email newsletter to which I have subscribed for years, written by a life coach. It opened with this quote:
So, yeah. I wrote that post title on Sunday.
Just goes to show how accurately I predicted my week. As in, I was completely and totally wrong. The depths – of work, of worrying about our country and its future, of worrying about other “life things” – are still very much pulling me in, despite my best efforts to extract myself.
When I wrote that title, I was focusing mostly on work. I thought I was past the nuttiest time of the semester, as I had finished the vast majority of my guest lectures, wrapped up one course, and only had one remaining. And then I realized just how much there still is for that one course. Not to mention my service on multiple committees and groups. So yeah, not quite done yet.
I am thrilled with the outcome of the presidential election (might as well just put it out there). The last four years have been interminable for those of us who could not believe that a completely unqualified toddler with no experience, or even interest, in serving the country could be elected president over such a vastly better qualified and competent candidate. And yet. Here we are. Sunday, I was feeling pretty good. Today? I’m not so sure. I left a comment on Susanne’s blog that commended her for stepping away from news and social media… for I find myself doom scrolling and seeking any glimmers of hope that T*****’s attempts to steal a lawful election from the voters will fail. I know this is bad – for my mental health and for getting all that other stuff I referred to up there ^^^. I’m working on it. But it is hard. I want to believe this will all come out right in the end, but I could have done without the prolonged anxiety. Taking another deep breath this morning, willing myself to put down my phone, and focus on what I CAN do. Obsessing about Michigan a, won’t change anything, and b, just makes me anxious.
I found this quote from John Steinbeck in an email from … last week? I think? From James Clear. His 3-2-1 newsletter is one of the best out there, if you are looking for a weekly dose of insight. It helps… to remember we have come to this point before and emerged unscathed. I have to have hope that will happen again.
Not that I have lost any hope. All the goodness and the heroisms will rise up again, then be cut down again and rise up. It isn’t that the evil thing wins — it never will — but that it doesn’t die. I don’t know why we should expect it to. It seems fairly obvious that two sides of a mirror are required before one has a mirror, that two forces are necessary in man before he is man.
For me, more than anything else, 2020 has reminded me that life is uncertain, that we can plan, and predict, and anticipate as much as we want, only to have the universe laugh in our faces. I imagine many people have had the same realization.
I am a planner. Always have been. Of course, there have been major shifts along the way, and unanticipated challenges and choices. But for the most part? I like knowing what’s going to happen, in work, in life, and (I’ll even go out on a limb here) in the world.
Yet so much of life is unpredictable, filled with the unexpected. Personally, professionally, nationally, globally. I’ve seen so many bloggers write about how they could have never anticipated a year ago that we’d be in the situation(s) we’re in right now.
Perhaps a year of such upheaval and change serves to remind us that these little earthquakes occur with startling regularity in all of our lives. That we should never, really, take anything for granted. We have what we have right now – that is all we are guaranteed. Anything can – and will – change in a moment. It’s reminded me, personally, that I should never pass up the opportunity to hug someone… to tell people I love them… to connect when we can. Not to get too morbid here, but the phone call or Zoom hang out that I decline today may be my last opportunity to be with someone, albeit virtually.
Will this make me into someone who never plans? Who follows their whims of the moment? I doubt it. It has, however, reminded me of the importance of the moment, of never taking things for granted, of always hugging, and saying I love you. I hope you have taken those opportunities, too.
Personally, professionally, heck, even in my running. The more I think about it, the more I realize that I go into pretty much any situation thinking that I won’t measure up, or I won’t succeed.
Submitting that grant? No way it gets funded.
Submitting a manuscript? It’ll be rejected.
Teaching a class? They’ll probably hate the way you do it.
Going for a run? You probably won’t make it more than a couple of miles.
It’s become even more evident in this (continuing) time of isolation. And I do wonder how I got to be this way. Modesty and humility were characteristics that my parents instilled in me, but I do wonder, do I take it too far? (The answer is probably yes…)
We were taught never to toot our own horns, as it were. But I think I’ve taken that and let it mutate into persistent self-doubt.
Which can make me kind of an Eeyore in my daily life, to be honest. One time, I’d like to start a project assuming – no, knowing – that it will be successful. I’d like to start a class, or a guest lecture, and think that the students will appreciate the hard work and preparation I put in, and that they’ll enjoy the discussion and content.
Yet I’m not sure how, exactly, one goes about changing one’s mindset on these things. I can read all the Brene Brown I want, but if I don’t internalize it, then it’s not super-helpful. Is it a matter of persistence and perseverance? Reframing?
I wish I knew, but I am hoping to figure it out. Soon. It’s frustrating enough when others question us… It’s next level annoying when we do it to ourselves. I don’t want to look for external validation – I’d like to be confident enough, sure enough in myself and my contributions to work, society, life, that I don’t need that external validation to support my own recognition of my value.
Lots to think about. And probably some more reading. (Any recommendations?) Some more reflection. I’ve lived with this long enough. I don’t want to live like this for the rest of my life.