Braving the storm (self-doubt).... And surviving it
Over the past four months, I have learned an important life lesson. It's not exactly new per se. It's one that I quickly learned earlier on in life, but it's only within the last couple of months when it finally resonated with me. And that is to never ever give up. When that tiny inner demon starts filling your mind with nothing, but negative thoughts, it's important to brush it off and never lose sight of your goals.
This semester has been such an arduous journey. Seeing as it was my final semester, I knew I was in for an intense ride of emotions and never ending deadlines. But I never expected it to be that hard. With every essay I had to research and write, I lost a bit of my sanity along the way. The pressure to excel academically and maintain my GPA amounted to my increasing stress. The problem? I was the only one putting the enormous pressure on myself to succeed. To surpass all my previous achievements. My parents long instilled in me the importance of working hard, but also to never lose sight of myself in the process. You see, from as long as I can remember, I've always been my own worse enemy. While others had complete faith in me, I was always my worst critic. Instead of being my personal cheerleader, I would always find excuses and reasons why I wouldn't be able to succeed at something. I constantly doubted and undermine myself. But time and time again, I was proven wrong. And each time that it happened, instead of congratulating myself and attributing it to my hard work, I was more inclined to attribute my success to luck. It's been a long problem of mine and one I have yet to find the perfect solution to. Trust me. I've been trying very hard. But sometimes you encounter those days when listening to your inner demon becomes second nature. Then all you're left with is self-doubt. And this thing called self-doubt? Not only is it emotionally draining, but it's detrimental to one's progression. It serves as a major catalyst for self-sabotage. For far too long, I allowed myself to become a victim of my own negativity. My life has always been a never ending roller coaster ride of feeling inadequate, constantly worrying about never being good enough and never believing in myself despite my past accomplishments that tells me I should. And that is where the problem lies.
I've always been aware of this flaw of mine. But it was only in the last few months when I suddenly realised just how self-destructive I was being. The daily constant attack directed towards my self-confidence, brought on by my own insecurities did little to contribute to my personal development. I guess we all have those days when believing in ourselves prove to be a challenge. Be it due to self inflicted criticisms or a group of doubters, undermining your abilities, intelligence and talent. It's normal to doubt our own strengths, but when it's the only thing that occupies your mind, 24 hours, 7 days a week, you know you need to intervene.
Because truth of the matter is, as much as I tend to attribute my success to luck, that isn't the case at all. As the first photo rightly points out: there is no elevator to success. There are no clear short cuts one could take to achieve it. We need to earn it. We need to be proactive by putting in the hard work for luck can only get you so far in life. At a certain point, we need to plant the seeds, in order to reap the benefits. And from my personal experience, it starts with believing in yourself. Cliche I know, but it's true. You reach a point when you need to stand up to that inner critic and put a stop to all the negative thoughts it keeps spitting out.
I would like to draw an analogy between a storm and my never ending battle with self-doubt. I'm used to hard work. I'm not one for taking the easy route. I'm the type of person who always took the road less traveled. I'm no stranger to facing challenges head on. But amidst all the mounting workload this past semester, the emotional disturbance caused by my inability to believe in myself just made it that much difficult to handle. Overwhelmed with self-doubt and that inner crtic who continued to run its negative commentary, much to my dismay, I found myself wanting to give up, throw the towel and run to the nearest corner and cry. Gripped by the irrational fear of failing and insecurity, I found myself paralyzed, stripped off any confidence, logic and reason.
Just like being caught in the middle of the storm, I felt like there was no way out. I felt hopeless. Trapped. Reaching the end seemed impossible. But here we are now. I managed to get to the other side and come out a better person because of it. I braved the storm and I survived. How exactly did I manage to do it?
I have always thought that it is during difficult times, when you are presented with the perfect opportunity to undergo personal development. When called upon to face numerous obstacles, we can either wallow in self-pity and accept defeat or we can choose to put on our toughest armor and face it head on. Personally, I'd choose the latter. The road to success and overcoming self-doubt isn't easy. But there is a way to go about it. I find the key to addressing self-doubt is to refrain from fighting against it. I learned the hard way that the more you fight against it, the more it continues to fight back. Don't fight it by refusing to acknowledge its existence. Listen to it and from the moment you hear its negative taunts and insults, address it. Don't let your negative thoughts consume you. Whenever you find yourself saying you can't do something and the what ifs starts to float around, change your way of thinking. Instead of saying 'I can't' learn to say 'I can't, but I have the power to work on it'
I have acknowledged the fact that a certain degree of self-doubt will always be present in my life. One of my favourite quotes reads ''You can't calm the storm, so stop trying. What you can do is to calm yourself. The storm will pass.'' - Timber Hawkeye. I don't have any control over the challenges life throws at me, but I can control how I respond to my self-doubt aka the barrier to overcoming those obstacles. It's important to keep some things into perspective. No matter what obstacle you're facing right now, big or small, do remember that it will eventually pass.
Just like after any storm, we are presented with the opportunity to rebuild ourselves. A new beginning is bestowed upon us. Ultimately, our spirit and resilience is always going to be stronger that any storm that comes our way. It's just the matter of recognising that we are more than capable of rising above it. So next time self-doubt rear its ugly head in my life, I know I can silence it.
*Images all taken from google images.