The Struggle with Self Doubt


There is an overpowering amount of self doubt that is seeded in our lives from a young age.  Teasing, taunting, and terrorizing both internally and externally. We see these behaviors through our peers, the public, and of course our own personal thoughts.  

How is it that we come into the world bright eyed and bushy tailed excited to be the next princess, doctor, astronaut, ballerina, firefighter, professional athlete, and president and end up losing sight of these dreams before we’ve even began to work towards them.  I know there is a reality that not everyone will become the next president and perhaps it is even less likely for one to become a princess, but the meaning behind the statement lies within our lack of belief in the possibility for the remarkable to happen. It is as if we lay down and give up on being much above the status quo.  Why is this?

I have many theories of why and how we lose our passion, but in all honestly there is no true difficulty in figuring out how we lost our excitement for life, so we will focus instead on how we get it back.

How do we change our viewpoint in life and start believing in something bigger than ourselves?  When my daughter was four year old daughter and I would ask her what she wants to be when she grows up she typically answered with only one response – a princess.  And when she did, I would look into her big brown eyes and say “Yes. And if that’s what you want, that’s what you shall be”. Who am I to say that she will not become a princess?  I do not know her future any more than I know the answers to world peace. Her future is yet to be determined and I want her to know that in fact, anything is possible.

I try to remind myself of this as well. When working as a counselor at a local university counseling center, I often made comments that I am still trying to figure out what it is that I want to be when I grow up.  They typically look at me and laugh because from an outward perspective it would look like I am fully immersed into my professional life, but I then and still now I can’t seem to squelch that inner thirst for more.  That internal feeling that there is something bigger out there and that I have yet to figure out my professional destination.  Despite having various certifications and degrees, I simply look at these as stepping stones in my journey and I am just as curious to what I will be when I grow up as I am to see what my daughter too shall do with her life.  

I would bet that most of us still experience that burning for more.  The longing to make a difference. To have an impact, whether it be in our families, in our towns, in our cities, in our states, or even worldwide.  Being great does not mean that we will each reach superstar status and walk the red carpet or have a street or building named after us. It simply means finding our peace in life, our happiness, and perhaps our own personal meaning.  This means something uniquely different to every individual. We each are born with so many unique gifts and talents that we yearn to share with others, but yet we often keep them within because at some point in our lives we believed that we were not worthy of success and we stopped putting out the effort to reach greatness.

I truly believe that the world is abundant.  There is enough space for each of us in this world to be great.  To shine. To find our place. It is not the opportunities that are limited, it is our belief.  Our belief that we too are capable and deserving. We live in a society that preaches scarcity and drives us to fear.  When we live our lives scared of what may happen we limit our ability to grow into the person we can be. The person, I believe we were meant to be.

Having worked with a college population in a counseling setting, there was often a lot of anxiety around career choice and areas of study.  The narrow thinking when it comes to career choice was very apparent during conversations about career. I would often hear statements of struggle when students realize despite deciding that they wanted to be a doctor at the age of 8 that they do not actually enjoy the course work and are having second thoughts about their career field.  To challenge their mindsets in regards to possible careers I like to ask the question “How many people in my graduating class do you think strived to work for Google upon graduation?”. They look at me a little perplexed as they have no idea how to answer this question, knowing nothing about my graduating class of course. I only give it a moment of awkwardness before I say “zero”.  I then ask if they know why, and of course I typically get another blank stare as a result. I then inform them that the reason that none of my classmates had any interest in working for Google, a highly sought after and prestigious job opportunity, is because it did not exist. The career we may be best suited for, the piece of the puzzle that may help give us a feeling of purpose, may not even exist.

So we must ask ourselves, what would we do if we were not afraid?  What if we were incapable of failure? What would our lives look like?  

I believe that the one thing that separates most of the population from those we view as great is the ability to preserve regardless of fear.  The ability to look at their fear and anxiety and let it drive them rather than to stop them.

Now, that said I think there are a minimal amount of people who can naturally, without much effort, live in this world without self doubt and fear penetrating the majority of their thoughts.  I can say that it is something I struggle with not just daily, but often moment by moment. It takes an active choice to look that fear in the face and choose to keep walking forward regardless of its monstrous grin.  And some days, I just don’t have the energy and I curl up in a ball and go to sleep – well, metaphorically at least. 

I have to constantly remind myself that the world is abundant.  That there are gifts to be had that we cannot even imagine. I struggle with the feeling of self doubt far too often myself, but I’m continuing to work on pushing through my fear and putting myself out there for new opportunities and experiences. I try to take at least one step each day, whether big or small in the direction of my passions. We’ll see where it all takes me, but for now I’m simply trying to enjoy the journey.

If you weren’t afraid – what is it you would do?


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