The years of anxiety and fear were never-ending in my mind. My self-confidence was always low. I didn’t know how I would ever get beyond my worries.
That paragraph might describe many times in my life. It could be the two years after college when I lived with my parents and couldn’t fathom a way out of living with them. Or the years I put off moving to some big city where I knew I may thrive but was too intimidated. Or it's the time I declined to admit I wanted something—anything—that might be more than what I felt I “deserved.”
Why had words of encouragement never sunk in? Why had I always doubted myself and my abilities? And how did I overcome these fears?
For most of my life I didn’t believe when people gave me compliments. Much of this has to do with my depression and anxiety—I felt (and very much believed) that I wasn’t good enough. I believed that my mental health issues made me less of a human being. Thus, when someone told me they appreciated what I did or said, I didn’t believe them. I had too many years of experience telling me otherwise. Besides, I knew what I felt, and what I felt seemed real. It was more real than any words from someone who wasn’t living my life.
So I truly believed I wasn’t a good writer or speaker. I doubted that I had anything of importance to share.
But with time comes experience. And confidence. And taking my medications to help calm my anxiety and depression helped a great deal, too.
I began to trust others and their judgments of me. I also had to put into the proper place my perfectionism. I began to understand that I could be a good writer even if I wasn’t the best one ever. When people complimented me on my writing I knew that at least I had touched that one person. And every individual counts.
At some point I realized I detested a life of static unhappiness. I figured out the things I enjoyed (it took me well into my 30s—I hope you have the ability to find out what makes your heart flutter well before that). And things lined up well enough that I felt comfortable quitting my job and taking on many part-time positions. At the same time I am now working toward fulfilling my goal to be a mental health speaker.
There’s never a right time to make your leap to living a life you want to live. I've heard this a hundred times. But you do what you can to find a time that works as well as you imagine it’s going to get. Then you take that leap. It’s scary and I’m still trying to figure how everything shakes out.
But I’m glad I made my move to fulfill my goals. Because 1) I don’t want to live a life where I’m unhappy; 2) you won’t know unless you try; 3) maybe—just maybe—I am better and more worthy of joy and contentment than I thought. And if you’re being honest with yourself, you will see that you are, too.
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This blog is an exploration of the subjects of belonging and loneliness. I also look at mental health issues. I seek to provide content to my readers that is informative and helpful. If you don't want to miss anything, sign up for my email list.