As I’ve grown older, I’ve realized a lot of things about myself.
I’m sensitive about my ish. And by “ish,” I mean… my family, my food, my money, but most importantly, my art. I’m a sweetheart, but I don’t take too kindly to the wrong buttons being pushed. I give great advice, but I don’t always take my own. I love writing, but some days I hate it (and that’s okay). I enjoy being alone, but I don’t like to feel lonely. I, unfortunately, base my worth on productivity, but that’s a mindset I’m working to change. I’m a little bit of a people pleaser, and it’s a bad habit that I need to break. I’m not great at accepting criticism, even if it’s constructive. Bad opinions sometimes bother me because I like to leave good impressions. I hit below the belt when I’m angry, but I really don’t mean it. I’m shy, but I tend to come out of my shell when I feel that I’m in a safe enough space to do so. I could go on and on, but there are so many layers to me. Layers that I have yet to fully peel back. But they’re there. They’re what make me, me.
However, among those, I’ve discovered one of my most toxic traits: I’m quick to self-sabotage. The one who’s always encouraging others to be their best selves and believe in what they’re capable of. Yes. She is me, and I am her. As of late, that has been the biggest battle I’ve been trying to fight–mentally and emotionally. I’ve never admitted that aloud, but the first step to solving a problem is acknowledging that it needs to be fixed, right? I’ve been guilty of dimming my light to give someone else the room to shine. I’ve been guilty of turning down the volume of my confidence to bring others comfort. I’ve been guilty of selling myself short when I knew, deep down, that what I had to offer was worth so much more than the discounted price tag I’d put on it.
Because of that, I’ve recently come to the conclusion that I’ve been getting in my own way and holding myself back from reaching my fullest potential. For some odd reason, I’ve just gotten so comfortable with dumbing myself and my achievements down that it’s almost become the norm for me. I hate attention. I hate bragging. The Leo in me is probably disappointed right now, but it’s the truth. I often question whether I am “capable” or “good enough” to be put in the places that I’ve been in.
A prime example of this proved itself true, even more, when I received an invite to an amazing writing group on Facebook.
If we’re being honest, although I still have so much further to go in my writing career, as much as I try to say otherwise, I’ve accomplished some bomb things. I’ve had Amazon bestsellers, yet, in a room full of other accomplished writers, I’ve made myself feel small and unworthy. As if I don’t belong. As if… who am I to even think that I am deserving to be in a bunch of writers of their caliber? However, upon entrance into the group, I immediately noticed that all of the women in this collective were amazing, supportive, and HUMBLE. Not once did they or have they ever done anything to make me feel the smallness and unworthiness that I just spoke about. The part of me that feels inadequate has, though.
Oddly, I’ve found myself in the same mental space when I’m asked for advice on things that I know I do well. I can’t count how many messages I’ve gotten from others who were interested in writing a book or entering the world of Journalism–two things I’ve done and have been doing for quite some time now. “What if I can’t lead them in the right direction?” I’d ponder. “What if the advice that I do give is not as helpful?” So many doubts would swirl through my head that, though eager to help, my nerves almost wouldn’t let me. I was afraid that my negative outlook on my abilities would be proven true if I’d extended–what I felt was–my not-so-expertise to them. Because of that type of harmful thinking, when I look back, fear has probably caused a lot of wonderful opportunities to pass me by.
Starting my podcast was a huge jump ahead and step out of my comfort zone, though. It was through starting it that I realized exactly what the title of this essay: I Deserve a Seat at the Table, Even If I Have to Make My Own. I’d been talking about launching my podcast for the longest, but I never could work up the guts to do it… until, one day, I said FORGET IT! I hit record and began talking. I didn’t stop. Hitting that upload button was equivalent to the pride I feel every time I finish a new novel. It was exhilarating–liberating even! Eight episodes in, and I don’t plan on stopping any time soon. I can’t lie and say that I haven’t thought about it on those days where nothing seems to be going right, but if I worried about every little thing going wrong, I’d never get anything done.
These days, I’m teaching myself to be more kind to my mind. To quit beating myself up over things I can’t control and focus on the things that I can. To tune out the opinions of others and rely on my own. To trust me and all that I’ve been gifted enough to do. To take the wheel of my career and drive wherever I’d like to see it go. He or she may be great for whatever position, but that doesn’t snatch away the spot that has been reserved for me.
I’ve been told NO a lot, but I’m saying YES to myself.
And it feels good.
Do what makes your soul smile and your heart dance. Don’t wait for the opportunity; create it.