kicking it to the curb

I have big hair.  I mean really, super-fluffy big hair.  On humid days or when I’m needing a haircut, you can actually see my hair form a perfect triangular shape around my head.

To take care of this mop I own, I usually pull it up in a bun or ponytail.  But last week I woke up one morning and discovered that I’d slept just right and my hair wasn’t huge.  It was calm and wavy and was allowed to meet my shoulders.  When I arrived to preschool dropoff a mom friend commented “I like your hair!  The waves are so pretty!”  My response?  “Oh, thanks,  but yeah… it’s all over the place, I usually pull it up because it’s so big and crazy (as I smooshed my hair down) and has a mind of its own, it’s such a pain, I get these headaches from pulling up so much thick hair and today I didn’t want a headache…”  blah blah blah.  My friend smiled painfully as she listened to me react to her compliment. 

I may be unusual with my hair issues, but so many of us writers feel this kind of self-doubt and react to compliments about our writing in the very same way.   I’ve heard of so many of my writer friends take a compliment and tear it to pieces because we are constantly doubting ourselves.  Even when someone tells us that our writing is good, we often wonder, “Are they just saying it to be nice?  Because they don’t want to hurt my feelings?”  Isn’t it possible that we actually did write something really well and that others really did enjoy reading it?  Have we considered this?

Last week a good friend of mine read my first manuscript and told me that she really, really enjoyed it.  I was so excited!  For about two minutes!  And then that nasty doubt crept in.  She’s just being nice, I reminded myself.  She’s my friend, what is she supposed to say, it really sucked?  And then today I received a sweet note from another good friend that she enjoyed an excerpt of the same manuscript.  Again, my first reaction was to celebrate!  And then quickly wonder what she really thought…

I’m very tired of my doubting self.  I wish I could kick her to the curb and throw mud on her face and, for that matter, tell her she can keep her big hair insecurities as well.   But I know that even famous authors struggle with doubt.  And I’m slowly learning to deal with it one day at a time, to work through it and keep chugging along because that’s really the only way to get anything done.  As writers, we have to ignore the doubt as best we can, side step it when it’s making faces at us (give it the finger if we have to) and then just… keep… going.   I guess that’s really how we win; we don’t let the doubt stop us from doing what we love to do.

How do you deal with doubt?

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11 thoughts on “kicking it to the curb

  1. Shelly says:

    Your post today really resonated with my feelings about entering a photography contest/exhibit today for the first time (excluding a small show I entered many years ago in college). I was in angst about which three photographs to submit – worrying over each possible choice. Will it be good enough? Not good enough to win, mind you, but good enough that I won’t feel embarrassed when someone connects the image to “me”. It’s one thing that my friends and family look at my photographs … another to show them to other established photographers who will notice the imperfections. Not having entered anything like this, I just wasn’t sure what to expect, and that amplified my own insecurities about putting myself “out there” for others to judge. I suddenly saw every little flaw in each of my images. I imagine that as a photographer {because the subject of my art is outside of me, I capture more than create} my own doubt does not hinder me while I am working behind the lens, but rather later on when I am ready to present my work to others – on my blog, in photography competitions. As you suggested, it is part of the emotional growth experience we have as artists/writers to work on that one day at a time and keep going despite the vulnerability we feel.

    • Bonnie says:

      Wow, Shelly – all I could think while I read your response was ‘how can she worry!? she’s so good!!’ I honestly, truly believe your photography is stunning, and I know that judges will love it too. Kudos to you for putting it out there – it’s scary stuff! But such a huge step, saying to ourselves and others that we are good enough to share our hearts with the world. 🙂

  2. Bryna says:

    Ah, those ever-doubting inner critics. They always try to get their hands in everything, don’t they? (My Achilles’ ankle is my massive eyebrows… I inherited them from my father… my half-Italian father… Thank God for tweezers! 🙂 ) Whenever I get a good review back, I worry that my reader liked the story because I wrote it, not because it’s the sort of masterpiece that I’m envisioning. But, as you said, we just have to push that doubt aside… no matter how difficult that can be.

    • Bonnie says:

      We really do have to believe in our masterpieces, don’t we!? Let’s keep chanting that…
      And I think you have lovely eyebrows. 😉

  3. KristenSays says:

    oh and it is so difficult! any time we create something, whether it be photography, writing, scrapping, cooking, anything, we’re putting a very intimate part of ourselves out into the world. and what could be scarier than that?! i haven’t figured out a way to master doubt. but i’m working on it by just getting my creativity out there and then releasing it. trying not to think about the outcome of that project and just moving on to another one. sometimes that helps. a little. 🙂

    • Bonnie says:

      I love how you wrote that, ‘get the creativity out there and release it’. Such a great way to put it… I need to practice releasing. 🙂

  4. C.B. Wentworth says:

    I deal with doubt pretty much the same way you do! 😉 A friend of mine and I were just having a discussion with the same topic as your post. I made the casual comment that I was excited and surprised that people were commenting on my blogs posts. She wanted to smack me for having the surprise factor (which is an element of doubt). I can’t help it! Every time I post something, I hope its good but I always second guess whether I should have posted it or even written it. Same thing goes for anything I write! I suppose the trick is just mustering the courage to put it out there and be proud of it no matter what happens. 🙂

  5. Laura T. says:

    I’m laughing at your big hair comments, because I have the same problems. I have very thick, curly hair, and my hair looks the worst in the summertime because of the humidity. I’m in desperate need of getting a haircut (haven’t gotten it cut since September). I just need to find someone that is not going to charge me over $50 for just a haircut.

    • Bonnie says:

      Too funny! I feel your pain – I’m always putting my haircuts off too. 🙂 But when we do get it cut, we feel about 10 pounds lighter!!

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