Surprise: you are your own worst enemy. I am definitely mine.
For people like myself with huge aspirations, there’s a natural self-critique that accompanies our ambition. Fortunately, I’ve reflected and identified ways that I’ve overcome the obstacles no one but my own psyche places on myself.
I’m sharing these experiences and lessons because something tells me they may be helpful.
Take Action, Despite What Your Inner-Critic Says
Recently, I went through a period where I was super self-conscious about my writing. Now, every writer knows that’s not necessarily uncommon, but the problem was I allowed the self-consciousness and doubt to keep me from producing.
Every two weeks, I send out an email newsletter with my writing. One week I was supposed to write an article but didn’t, mostly because I didn’t feel confident enough to write anything.
The following week I got confident enough to write something but lost that confidence as I finished the article. My self-doubt was so intense that I almost didn’t send out my newsletter even though I had the content for it.
I managed to overcome my doubt and send the newsletter. The next day, the president of the non-profit, Roadtrip Nation, replied saying the message resonated with him and he thanked me for putting it out into the world. Later that same day, the president of another non-profit read my newsletter and it moved him to call me to offer a part-time job.
What became important to realize at that moment was even amid battles with intense self-doubt and critique, we can’t let that stop us from doing what we need to.
If I had capitulated to my mental opposition, I would have missed out on a job opportunity, putting a well-received message into the world, and getting the uplifting feedback I needed to regain confidence in my writing.
Humans can never be removed from self-doubt and critique, but we can keep them from affecting our actions.
Don’t Silence Yourself
This is another lesson I learned during my aforementioned period of self-consciousness with my writing.
Through Public Allies Los Angeles, a leadership and workforce development program, I’ve been placed to work part-time at a non-profit called Inclusive Action. Most of my work has centered on writing for their blog.
Recently, my supervisor got so busy with grant writing for a short period that he didn’t have the time to review any of my writing; my blog postings were now on hiatus.
I had already previously expressed my interest to him in assisting with grant writing. So, when I noticed he didn’t ask me to help him with his grant writing workload I just assumed it was because he thought my writing sucked.
Fortunately, I came to realize in this scenario my false assumption was much more adversarial than my supervisor.
I scheduled a meeting with him a week later and told him that he could reach out to me for assistance anytime he gets crazy busy with a grant. He thanked me with sincerity and informed me that he would get me involved with the following grant application.
Before speaking up, I thought it was the lack of writing prowess that kept me from my desire to get involved with grant writing. In reality, the true foe was my false assumption that I allowed to silence myself.
In the pursuit of your goals, never silence yourself, especially because of a false assumption. Be outspoken, direct, and confident with expressing your desires, and your ability to reach them will increase exponentially.
Say Yes to Opportunity
Previously, I mentioned getting a part-time job offer for a non-profit. In the week following, I got a full-time job offer as a production coordinator with Roadtrip Nation (RTN). This is significant because my ultimate goal is to become a screenwriter/filmmaker, producing mission-oriented films, exactly what RTN does.
But here’s the thing, this job offer was the result of two years worth of saying yes to opportunity.
First, I had to say yes to an opportunity to volunteer as a pitch competition judge for a screenwriting conference two years ago (mind you, I knew jackshit of pitching movies and was scared of looking stupid but didn’t want to turn down the networking opportunity).
Second, after meeting another screenwriter at the conference, she invited me to a networking event at Warner Bros studio and I had to say yes to going. (mind you, I was highly exhausted the day of the event but I didn’t want to turn down that networking opportunity).
Third, after coming across RTN at the Warner Bros event, I had to say yes to low-paying, temporary job opportunities from RTN that weren’t necessarily related to my career path. But they allowed me to be a part of this incredible organization.
If I had let a fear of looking stupid, exhaustion, or an “I’m too good for this low-paying work” mentality to keep me from saying yes to these three opportunities, I would have kept myself from getting this full-time job offer. Mind you, one that I could only have dreamed about three years ago when I first decided to pursue filmmaking.
Sidenote: before you can say to an opportunity, you have to recognize it. Here’s a secret: opportunity exists anywhere people are doing what you aspire to. So if you don’t actively place yourself around people, places, and events related to what you want to do, then you’re standing in your way.
Give Yourself Grace
One of my biggest goals for 2020 year was to implement a habit of waking up by or before 5:00 am. I found myself struggling to make early rising a habit last year.
On the days I would wake up by 5 am, my confidence was sky-high; starting the day off with this win made me feel like I could accomplish anything. Often, on days when I couldn’t wake up early, I would get super down on myself. I would wake up feeling disappointed and incompetent since I started the day off with an L. The latter mindset negatively impacted my ability to be productive and effective.
Ultimately, I realized a lack of giving myself grace was affronting my mental well-being. Even if I didn’t accomplish this early morning goal, it didn’t mean I deserved to view myself as a failure.
Once I started giving myself grace in this area, I noticed how much less anxious or sad I felt on days where I couldn’t get up early.
Sometimes our willingness to give ourselves grace can be the most significant impediment to feeling happy and assured. Always provide yourself patience and room to fall short now and then. If not, you’ll create a negative self-perception as I did, and that may cause a depression that holds you back more than the initial shortcoming.
There’s a quote by Lisa Kleypas where she says: “you are your own worst enemy, if you can stop expecting impossible perfection in yourself and others, you may find the happiness that has always eluded you.”
To that I would just add, never allow your imperfections to keep you from taking action, silence yourself, say yes to opportunity, or give yourself grace.