Shifting from self-doubt to “What if?”

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: 

What if we had an unwavering belief in ourselves? What if we always knew that there was nothing too big to stand in our way? What if we truly believed that against all odds we will always figure it out?
– Jess Ekstrom
Which, of course, got me thinking, well, what if? 
What if that manuscript that I submit is accepted (with revisions, come on, let’s not get too crazy here…)? 
What if the grant is funded? 
What if I actually manage to shift my program of research out of neutral, where it’s been stuck for a few months? 
What if, instead of running scared from the “big things” on my to do list, I actually, you know, did them? 
What if I wrote the email that I have known for weeks that I need to write? 
What if, instead of thinking that my students secretly hate me, I think that they actually value the content and insights that we share each week? 
It won’t happen overnight, but yesterday, I did have a bit of an epiphany (while cleaning the bathroom, of all things…). (And yes, I was cleaning the bathroom on Thanksgiving morning. I was alone. I usually clean on Thursdays. Why not? :>) 
My mini-epiphany: I have been avoiding the “big things” related to my work because I am convinced that I will fail. I haven’t succeeded to the degree I anticipated I would up to this point in my career… so what will change this go-round? And I realized that I was tired of thinking that way. 

I literally looked at myself in the mirror and told myself to stop. To just do it. That if I don’t do it, I’ll never know if my hypotheses actually hold up. No one else is asking these questions, so why not me? 
It’s a small step. But it’s a step. I made my to do list for today and the weekend, and it includes several of my biggest projects right at the top. 
Because what if? 

8 thoughts on “Shifting from self-doubt to “What if?”

  1. I love your new perspective. You’re a professor and researcher!
    Not that I want you to self-doubt yourself (and you’re working on it), but you know how many “know-it-alls” I’ve encountered in the science community? It’s somewhat refreshing to hear that others in the same field of work don’t always feel so confident… but you’ll also only know your potential if you take risks and GO FOR IT sometimes 😉

    1. Ok, let’s see if this works. I’m so new to this WordPress thing, and I have no idea whether / how the comments are working!
      Anyway, thank you so much for your lovely and supportive comment. It’s astonishing – I managed to finally get moving on that manuscript. No, it’s not what I thought it would be when I set out to do the analysis but it’s worth something!
      I also wonder if the know-it-alls are secretly just as afraid as the rest of us, but maybe hide it better? Hmm…

  2. Yay Anne, you’re on WordPress!! I’m so glad! Congratulations! I love WP as long as I don’t need to use it for my own blogs. 🤪
    Anyway. What if. I definitely need to learn to think like that. I always think I’ll mess up everything I do and that everyone thinks I’m a fool. What if…not. Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. Hi Susanne! Yes, you were one of the main reasons I wanted to make the move. That, and Blogger was just getting annoying after a while. I’m still obviously working out the wrinkles here – one thing I desperately need to do is find a theme that I actually like (this one was the least offensive of the early options I identified…).
      I like to think I’m shifting my thinking, but then I have set backs like this morning, when I Felt like I didn’t have ANYTHING to show for the last year (can you tell my annual review is coming up? :>). I think you definitely need to adjust your perspective -think of the feedback you got on your photography! Hope all is well there, despite lockdown. It’s still a mess here.

      1. Oh, that was so sweet of you! I know the pain of finding a good theme. The free themes on wp.org aren’t great anymore. I used paid themes or one I had coded myself. If you go to wp.org and themes, and go to the premium section, there’s a long list of link to sites that sell themes, and many of them have free themes too.
        Yes, I need to work on my what ifs! Actually I entered that hoverfly image in a nature competition and came third. After that I kind of respect my photography skills a lot more.

        1. I found a new (free) theme that I think is much more me. And today I even managed to (I think) customize it a bit, so that it reflects my personality vs. that of a developer. 😉
          I read about you entering the image in the contest – thought I commented, but maybe I did not??!?!? Anyway – I was not a bit surprised, given your photographic talents. I am envious – the most I can hope for is not blurry and reasonably framed.
          This is random, and I know you prefer bluegrass, but have you seen the YouTube recordings of Patrick Dexter, a cellist in Ireland? (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCg6ZAEdcnW4WwT_9Ak5DLEQ) I love how low-key and natural they are – there is one where the dog wanders through and it just makes the whole song. Anyway, I found them a few days ago and love starting my day with one or two. Thought of you, of course, given the Ireland link!
          Take care.

  3. Ooh, loving the new look and space here! 🙂

    I’m glad my advice was helpful! I always wonder what it’s like to be someone who doesn’t struggle with self-doubt. What would life look like if I didn’t become mired in my own worrisome thoughts about not being good enough?! Sometimes, a simple shift in thinking can help!

    1. Thanks! It’s still very much a work in progress, and I’ve made some lovely rookie mistakes, like not immediately implementing Whois privacy. On the other hand, you live, you learn.
      And yes, I do wonder what it’s like to not have self-doubt. On the other hand, I don’t want to be someone who is overconfident. There has to be a balance somewhere… I wonder if anyone has found it?

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