The one thing I know I excel at is self-doubt

Edited to add: I know that we are in the middle of one of the most stressful weeks of the year, and one of the most worrisome times for our country since its founding. I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t focused on that, because my anxiety over the US election outcome is constant and extreme. But… I just really needed to think about something else this morning. I will likely write something about the election in the near future, but for today… well, I just wanted (and needed) to do a bit of navel-gazing. Thanks for understanding. 


I am really, really excellent at doubting myself. 

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. 

7 thoughts on “The one thing I know I excel at is self-doubt

  1. I can totally relate to this. I suffer badly from impostor syndrome and although I normally have a positive mindset but it never applies to myself and skills. 🙁
    But self-doubt is not the same as humility.
    We need to work on believing in ourselves. It’s not easy though.

  2. Oh, self-doubt is awful. It's something you've internalized so much that it's hard to even accept positive feedback as real.

    I guess you can only remind yourself about accomplishments on a regular basis to tell your self-doubt to suck it. It's a process for sure.

  3. Oh man, can I relate to this. I've been trying to ask myself the question, "What if this is successful?" or "What would it look like for this thing to go well?" and that sometimes help me reframe my thoughts so that I'm not ONLY thinking about what happens if it fails.

  4. I am trying to respond to comments, and changed my theme and some settings… can you let me know if you get this? I'm so sorry if you didn't get my earlier reply!

  5. Ah, yes, impostor syndrome. Another old friend. So common in academia that there are whole bodies of research devoted to exploring it. Not to mention all the "how to overcome impostor syndrome" posts and articles. You're absolutely right, though – self-doubt is not the same as humility, and I think we all know people who are humble yet confident, who believe in themselves. I hope to get there someday, and I hope you do, too. (I do think, too, that this is so much more common in women vs. men, but that's a debate for another day…)

  6. OK, thanks. I'm so sorry they didn't come through! I'm trying something different. AND I am literally in the process of migrating to WordPress. I'm sick of the issues with Blogger. (It only took me a couple of years…)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.