Note: For Context on today’s post check out Confessions of a Ghost
When something ends, the tendency is to think back to the beginning, to follow all the steps that brought you to failure, to wonder which were missteps, how you could have done better, how your instincts could have been so wrong.
I’ve been second guessing myself a lot lately, or rather I’ve been catching myself second guessing my decisions and realizing that I’ve been disregarding my instincts. I’m not sure when it started. Maybe it was in high school, setting aside my instincts in favor of having friends, of not being the lonely new girl. Maybe it was during the college application process where I ignored the little voice in my head asking me if college was really what I wanted to do (here’s how well that turned out). Maybe it was after leaving college when I felt stuck in a retail job with no real image of what my future could be and the lowest level of self-confidence I’ve ever experienced.
I first noticed the pattern in seemingly little things. At band practice, I’d automatically assume that if something was off vocally, it was my fault, even though most of the time I was hitting the right note. Then, when I got feedback on my book from my beta readers (which was mostly positive) the predominant issues all centered around areas where I’d second guessed myself during the revision process. When I described the original scenes to my readers, they felt those scenes would fix the problems.
It wasn’t until I was on the cruise, talking with the amazing Emma and Peter Newman about my story problems and Emma pointed out that I had good instincts and I just needed to trust them that I realized how much I’ve been second guessing myself.
I do it with this blog all the time. All those long stretches with no posts: second guessing. I’ll write a post and delete it, or I’ll start a post and not finish it because it’s “wrong” and how could anyone possibly be interested in reading something so trivial.
But the biggest time I second guessed myself was in the friendship I described in my previous post. I’m not going to go into specific detail because I don’t want this blog to become a place where I vent about people I perceive to have wronged me. In fact, I almost didn’t post the last blog, and even after I had, part of me wanted to go back and take it down. Ultimately, I’m glad I posted it, and I’m glad I kept it up because I’ve received some touching responses to it and if I’d second-guessed myself I’d still have all those words locked inside my skull, rattling around, keeping me up at night.
So, I guess, what I’m ultimately trying to get at, is that even though I consider myself to be quite a self-confident person, there are certain areas where I am insecure, and it’s in these areas where I tend to second guess myself. I second guess my singing, because I’m not a natural singer. I was tone deaf as a young child, and I’ve worked hard to develop my ear and my voice, but there’s always that nagging sense that maybe I’m hearing things wrong. I second guess my writing for reasons I haven’t fully analyzed yet, but I think it comes down to fear. That’ll probably be a blog post in the not-to-distant future. I second guess myself in friendships and relationships because I’ve had a hard time over the years. I moved quite a bit growing up, and so I got good at making friends, but not quite as good at keeping and maintaining friendships because it’s not something I had to do. Now that I’m older, now that I’m relatively settled, I need to figure out how to be a good long-term friend.
Well, I think I’ve exhausted this topic for the moment. Hopefully, I got my point across; I’m not sure. I do know that if I start revising, I’m going to talk myself into not posting, so this will be a little bit less coherent than my usual ramblings.
Let me know what you think about instincts and second guessing. Are there any stand-out moments in your life where you wish you’d trusted your instincts? Were there times when your instincts were wrong?
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