It’s offseason, which means it’s time to dust off the cobwebs in the psyche and really dig around in there. Peeking out of my hole to share some insights…
Also, it’s been a nice excuse to get caught up on diving photos just in time for my holiday trip, where I’ll take two weeks of footage and get blissfully behind again…
It’s been a little over a year since my focus on Courage and Confidence. My headspace has changed so much in some regards, my prior thoughts and feeling ring so foreign to me. I remember a time when my head was full of negative and self-deprecating sentiments. I remember having little confidence in my capabilities and suffering from constant and overpowering imposter syndrome. I remember internalizing things that happened to go wrong in my life even if they weren’t my fault. I remember feeling numb, disinterested, and disengaged with many things in my life and sort of… floating.
I remember being paralyzed by a subconscious fear that I wasn’t good enough at something, at anything, at everything. I remember shying away from activities where I didn’t find immediate success. I remember being afraid to speak my mind, stand up for my opinion, and stick my neck out for things I believe in, because people would think I was just a dumb stupid girl that didn’t know anything.
I know that was my reality. I just don’t feel like that anymore.
I also remember sleeping well and not waking up in the middle of the night with worries, thoughts, ideas, and schemes. Numbness is a mixed bag, but one I very much like being absent in my life right now. I’ll take a little overthinking at 2am because it means I CARE ABOUT SHIT.
One thing I’ve started doing is trying to use that overactive imagination and the asshole voice in my head for the powers of good. You know the one I’m talking about, the one that spouts things like “you’re not worth it” or “don’t even bother, you won’t be good enough” or “everyone will make fun of you” or “you’re a terrible person”. The obvious thing is to combat this with lukewarm statements like, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.” I’m trying a new thing… taking my silent pep talks to the next level. Instead of mild platitudes, I tell myself things like “I’m fucking amazing at things when I give them enough effort and time, my brain is a work of wonder when I really focus, and it’s awesome to be in my orbit.”
I’m taking precautions to avoid stepping over the line into narcissism – I’m focusing on myself and not any sort of value judgements on other people (no way do I want to start down the terrifying and dark rabbit hole ranking myself against anyone else). But, by striking this hyper confident tone in my personal head narrative that I’m awesome and confident and good and worthy and capable and competent, I think I’ve made huge steps towards actually believing I can be and becoming these things. I’m internalizing my successes and externalizing my failures (while analyzing what happened so I do my best not to repeat a flailing performance). I no longer feel fragile enough that criticism of some work I hold dear could fell me.
This has helped me more confidently orate at work. I don’t cower when I need to state my opinions (which are based on a heck of a lot of knowledge and experience) at work in front of superiors. Earlier in the year, I held back a lot because I felt the sword of Damocles hanging over my head, just waiting for me to mess up, get something wrong, and be called out as incompetent. While I always need to practice my presentations, it also has become natural for me to get up in front of the entire company and talk competently without notes. Earlier in the year I literally almost had a panic attack when I had to condense my six pages of SXSW panel notes into one crib sheet. I’ve been on camera this year than I probably have collectively in my whole life, leading or co-anchoring the dialogue. Years gone by, I would have passed up these opportunities instead of embracing each one and asking for more.
Also, I’ve learned how to be vulnerable and ask for help and enjoy NOT being amazing at things in public. I started playing this ridiculous game called Blood Bowl (think elves and orcs playing a hyper-violent version of Rugby) with the league at work. The camaraderie and trash talking has been a blast, but I was easily one of the worst players in the league last season. So, past me would have just NOPED out after that, scared of flailing and showing people how badly I suck at a thing.
Instead, I saw myself get a LITTLE better at the end of the season, and got hooked hard. I play or watch games almost every day now, and I recruited one of the best players in the league to give me some advice. We chat about the game almost daily as well and he answers all manner of my inane questions and seems to be happy to do so. Past me would have likely just spun myself up having to learn everything in secret both because I felt like I’d annoy anyone who I’d ask for help and also I didn’t want to look like I didn’t know everything about something. THIS IS A HUGE STEP FOR ME.
At the beginning of the year, I hadn’t shared any of my (not blog) writing with anyone. That’s not the case now. I’ve written voraciously (not here though, sorry), and shared it selectively with folks I thought might be interested, and in some cases, I think I may have overwhelmed them by dropping too many words in their lap. Earlier in the year, I felt mortified about it, like “my writing sucks, who would want to read so much of it, I can’t believe I sent someone the burden of all these words of mine”. Now, I’m like, “huh, maybe it’s not their cup of tea and/or they don’t have time to read it”. I had someone reciprocate and send me a link to their writing. It’s sitting open, and unread. I’m looking forward to it. I just haven’t had time.
Earlier in the year, I was worried when my diving photos got very few likes on Facebook, like way less than when I post about anything else. I almost thought about posting them elsewhere instead, taking the lack of response as people rolling their eyes at my content. Then, several people, not the same ones that hit that precious FB thumbs up button tied to self worth, over the last few months tell me how much they enjoyed seeing them. That made me more motivated to keep sharing… just because people don’t obviously and visibly appreciate the things you do don’t mean you shouldn’t keep enjoying them publicly. Posting my photos is not an imposition to anyone.
Instead of letting that overactive imagination in my head come up with these unlikely narratives where people now think I’m a horrible person who is crap at everything, I’m trying to follow the Occam’s Razor principle, that is, that the simplest theory is usually the right one.
At least, that’s what I’m inking in my narrative and will confidently go forth believing until convinced otherwise.