Self-doubt can be debilitating and overwhelming. It can make us question our abilities and self-worth. It can prevent us from reaching our full potential. For many of us, it can be a constant companion, always lurking in the background, ready to strike at any moment.
I have struggled with self-doubt my whole life. And I know that it held me back in so many ways. I felt like I didn't have anything of value to offer, and I've often avoided taking risks or putting myself out there because I was afraid of getting things wrong (or as English as self-effacing can get: not wanting to be a bother).
So what changed? Primarily, I politicised it. I finally began to acknowledge that my playing small was not just harming me; it was an injustice to people like me, for people with my shared characteristics or who looked like me, or had been through similar stuff to me, or quite were looking for evidence that things could be OK. I decided to be that evidence. I chose to drop the “I'm not good enough” story I had been attached to my whole life.
I had always thought I should be humble and try not to draw too much attention directly to myself (to a cause, but not to me, personally.). We are told not to get too big for our boots. And don't take up too much space, and I definitely interpreted that as ”always put yourself down.” and “don't take up any space.” The irony is that whilst I was lost in being a little tumbleweed of inadequacy, I thought about myself All. The. Time. How could I have said that thing differently? Or whether I did that thing wrong? Or if I sounded too much like this. Or maybe I thought I was a bit too much like that. It was endless. This constant manipulation of myself so as not to be a disturbance and trying to micro-manage other people's perceptions of me. Because please, god, oh god, don’t let them think I am selfish.
And the whole time, I was completely self-absorbed.
Until one question slammed into my path like a stop barrier: “Who is this helping?” It cut to the core. The realisation that this was neither serving me or others. And in the space that opened up, I have been able to create work which I'm constantly striving to make more equitable and accessible. I offer self-care work to folk who may not otherwise be able to afford it. This offers me a chance for people to link their self-development to others because you can help others to access the work too. It is the ultimate practical brain hack for people who tell themselves that self-care is indulgent.
Ceasing squashing my light down has helped me be able to hold out a torch all along my journey so that people can light their own way. This is why doing our own work is crucial, because it creates spaces for others to do the same.