On self-belief and self-criticism

I did a lot of thinking last night about self-belief and self-criticism. I won’t get into the details about how all that came up, but before I knew it, I had quickly written something which could have resembled a draft blog post. And it’s something I wanted to share. A lack of self-belief is a problem I’ve had for years, especially more in my love life, but also in my professional life.

Last week, I had an interview for a temporary summer job, which knocked my confidence greatly, when it really shouldn’t have. I didn’t get through to the next stage of the recruitment process, and I took it a lot worse than I should’ve done – I shouldn’t let such things get to me when I’m job hunting, otherwise I’ll never find employment. The interview was a situation I’d never been in before, a large group interview, where nearly all of the other applicants were either in school, in university, or awaiting graduation. Even with all the experience I have in retail and customer service, I felt intimidated by the teenagers and young adults who were much more confident and energetic than I was. It made me think about how they had much more possibility for growth and new opportunities in their life than me. Which, at least with this job, was true.

So what if I look for a job where a knowledge of Italian is essential? Well, I haven’t got far there either. I’ve read so many job adverts where the employers want much more than simply fluency in one language. They want one, or two more additional languages – sometimes more unusual combinations like Italian with French and Japanese. Or they require skills I don’t have, like IT knowledge, or the dreaded ‘[so many years] of experience in the same role’. So it makes me feel like my skills are insufficient. Retail is what I do, what I first started out doing, but feel like I can no longer compete with young adults.

I’m my fiercest critic when it comes to my looks, even though anything I tell myself at this point in life isn’t something I haven’t heard from a boy or man over the years. It’s kind of difficult when boys literally started laughing at me because of my appearance at the age of 16, and only one man over the years has openly contradicted what they thought back then. But I thinks it’s got to a point where I’ve accepted that my appearance for what it is, and there’s no point in getting sad about it. If anything, I laugh about it, my spotty skin which doesn’t seem to want to leave its stubborn teenage phase mo matter what I do; my wonky teeth, my thinning hair, the fact that about half the time I still get asked for ID when I buy alcohol, my still-chubby belly and fat thighs… I could go on.

As for my writing, well… I wanted to start writing again properly, and dedicate more time to it because it’s something I enjoy. I’m aware that I’m not very good at it, but I wanted to practice more, to stretch my writing muscle, so to speak, and to try and improve. One thing I was thinking about last night was how the Internet creates so much competition between people who, for example, write or make art. You might be proud of what you did, but it’s easy to see something that you think is better, and get discouraged. I used to write fiction years ago when I only had dial-up, and now I realise how much easier it was without all the outside influences I have today. I was so much happier about what I wrote. Of course, I still read books back then, but it’s not the same thing for me. Now there are so many self-published Amazon books, ‘normal’ people who write in addition to their day jobs (or maybe not, in some cases). And it’s easy to get discouraged because I feel like could be like them too, if I had enough self-belief, if I worked hard enough. But what’s more important for me now, as it was with my old blog, is telling my story. Sharing my experiences with others. For the last nine years or so, I’ve lived quite an unusual life, and I think that some people could find it interesting. Maybe. The fact that I’m trying to justify the fact that I’m actually blogging says a lot about my belief in my ability to actually write well.

So what can I take from all this? I’m not exactly sure, to be honest. Maybe more of an awareness that constantly comparing myself to others isn’t healthy. That life isn’t a competition, and what’s important is that we do what makes us happy. Easier said than done though, I guess.

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One thought on “On self-belief and self-criticism

  1. Absolutely, definitely – STOP comparing yourself to others. You are you and you are unique (as is everyone else). Go for the writing but don’t get discouraged. Nobody was signed up on their first try (or even their second or third, etc.)

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