5.10.2011

ON FEELING INADEQUATE

Anonymous asked...
When it comes to writing, do you ever struggle with *feeling* inadequate? You figure you aren't and you're told you aren't, but it's that tiny little thought in the back of your mind when you open the Word document. That one that makes you close down Word before you even write a sentence. Does it ever go away?

it's hard, sometimes, to be confident when we have so many reasons to doubt our abilities. maybe our parents, our friends, our coworkers or classmates make us feel inferior. maybe we screwed up big in the past and we've never been able to live it down. maybe we have the weight of the world on our shoulders and sometimes it seems like no one will ever understand the kind of pressure we're under to succeed, to strive, to make something of ourselves.

and all of that is... normal, believe it or not. because we all struggle. all of us. every day.

i often doubt myself while writing, asking myself is this okay? is it alright? is this too much? not enough? too far? confusing? offensive? strange? will anyone understand that? and many times i question my own work. i always, always think i have room to improve and i'm constantly trying to better myself and my writing. today my writing is so much better than it was 6 months ago, because the more you write, the more you'll learn about the craft, the process.

but feeling inadequate is a little different. 

now, there's always the possibility that by 'inadequate' you simply meant you doubt your work sometimes, that maybe you have days where you think your writing is crap and you have days where maybe you want to throw your laptop out the window and wonder why you ever considered writing a book in the first place. if so, welcome, my friend, to the world of being a writer.

but if you meant that you really, truly feel inadequate? (enough that it keeps you from writing even a single sentence?) then i worry.

i'm going to tell you a secret, anon. i'm going to tell you a very big secret about life, about people, about human psychology and day-to-day interactions.

everything is in your head.

you can make yourself believe whatever you want to believe. how you perceive yourself and how other people perceive you is entirely within your realm of control. if you want others to think you're confident, you act confident. you speak with conviction, you walk down the street with your head up high and you hand out smiles like they're going out of style. people will immediately perceive you differently, because we absorb others with our eyes. emotion comes from motion. you sit up straight, you focus on people when they speak to you, you perfect your handshake and you don't walk into a business meeting with a stain on your suit. you're cool. calm. collected.

you have to do the same thing in your head.

if your mind is a jumble of self-loathing, self-deprecation and self-doubt, it's going to cripple you. it will keep you from trusting yourself and your limitless potential. you have to love yourself enough -- respect yourself enough -- to believe you're capable. that sense of inadequacy comes from another place, maybe from another person, maybe from a series of events, maybe as a consequence of a lost opportunity. whatever it is, i doubt it's isolated to just your writing. try to find the root cause of all of this.

remind yourself that you're incredible. know, unequivocally, that you have just as much right to succeed as anyone else and that you are one hell of a human being. because if you don't believe it, how can you expect someone else to?

being human is hard. it comes with a lot of FEELINGS and EMOTIONS and ISSUES we don't know how to deal with. we're scared and nervous and we worry so much you'd think we were getting paid to do it. everyone struggles. we all have bad days. we all fight our lesser selves to be better. but don't be afraid to take a risk. don't be afraid to dare yourself. to take a chance on yourself.

don't be afraid to try.

because you are not inadequate. not for this. not for anything.

and invite anyone who says otherwise to exit your life. 

<3

20 comments:

Read my books; lose ten pounds! said...

Good answer

Meaghan said...

Thanks for that. I cherish every reminder that I am not alone in this. All writers seem to have these same feelings of inadequacy and fear of failure, don't we? We need more hugs. Heh.

Ishta Mercurio said...

Good post.

I'd like to add that whatever history is behind what seem to be deep-seated feelings of inadequacy, right now, the only person responsible for you, the only person accountable for how you behave, is you. You are in control of you. No matter what came before, now is the moment when you can decide to do something different.

Also: Tahereh, did you realize when you said "emotion comes from motion" that there are actually scientific studies that prove this? Pretty amazing.

Erin Bowman said...

"Invite anyone who says otherwise to exit your life."

Amen.

Emy Shin said...

I'm not Anonymous -- but reading this gave me goosebumps. I'm painfully shy and incredibly self-depreciating, and no, it doesn't come across, doesn't FEEL like cute modesty. Rather, it's devastatingly confidence-shattering, in writing and in life.

"how you perceive yourself and how other people perceive you is entirely within your realm of control."

YES YES YES.

Thank you so much for this post. I want to print it out and frame it, seriously.

Solvang Sherrie said...

Seriously inspiring. I'm keeping this one.

JD said...

OMG I'm totally framing this. Thank you.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Just lovely. :)

Nikki said...

Bravo! Love this post :)

Krispy said...

Seriously Tahereh, have you ever considered becoming a motivational speaker? Your pep talks are always something else! Thanks!

Dana Elmendorf said...

I love this post. You are so dead on, on so many points it's not even funny. Like an old soul you are Miss Tahereh.

Dorothy Dreyer said...

Have I told you lately that I love you? *tries to memorize post*

ronnie said...

omg...i love you...

Leslie Rose said...

I love the bogart scene in Harry Potter when you turn your worst fear into something ridiculous. I think that's what we as writers need to do when the negative nigglings come a'knockin'.

christine said...

Lovely! Think you all might like this Venn Diagram that speaks to the subject:

http://christinecastigliano/blog

Julie Musil said...

You know what? I was feeling inadequate this morning. Seriously. Thanks for the reminder that it's all in my head. I hope. I think so.

Amy Lukavics said...

Such amazing advice, for writing AND life in general. Awesome. :)

1000th.monkey said...

My husband's favourite thing to say is, "Fake it 'till you make it."

...if you're confident, everyone thinks you know what you're doing :)

LynNerd said...

I'm here via Julie Musil's blog, and I'm so glad I stopped by. Words of wisdom from one so young! Yes, we all have doubts at times. When I'm fatigued is when the doubts creep in. Gotta shoo them out. Excellent post. Thanks!

Ikhlas said...

Wow this was really inspiring...thanks for sharing this :)

Some days its SO hard to convince yourself to give it a go, and wonder if anyone will care, but you definitely have to keep pushing on. As Dory says from Finding Nemo, "Just Keep Swimming."

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