No one has ever accused me of dreaming too small or not working hard enough… and let me tell you, I have been dreaming big and working hard the last few months in particular, both in photography, and in my personal life. And yesterday I hit the tipping point. A couple of things collided at once, and I suddenly ran out of time and out of confidence and was overwhelmed with pressure and responsibility, and I ran into my biggest nemesis, Self Doubt.
People contact me regularly asking about how they can improve their work, how they can stop questioning themselves, how they can find confidence, and how they can fight their own self-doubt. While I am no expert, I love those conversations, and I hope you continue chatting with me – but I have to admit, after the day I had yesterday, I feel like a fraud being a cheerleader for everyone else, without acknowledging that I have those same fears and frustrations.
The issue I have with self doubt is not that it makes me question the value of the images I produce, but it makes me question my very ability to accomplish anything. I think we all go through cycles of wondering if our images speak to anyone beyond ourselves, if they say what we intend them to say, if the people who give us praise are being honest – I think this is part of the process, and part of pushing forward. It’s what drives us to get better, and makes us hungry for what ever is next. But self doubt makes me question myself. It makes me question my motivations, my ability, my very being and person, and it’s crippling in the worst kind of way.
It goes beyond the images I produce, and makes me question how I spend my time and energy, and if it’s worth it. It makes me ask myself if I am spreading myself too thin for my family, and hardest of all, if my girls will look to me someday and see what I do as something to look up to, or something to avoid.
I wish I could round this post out with a good piece of advice and the perfect solution to these problems we face, but like so much in life, I think the only way to battle through self doubt is to simply decide you are going to push through and make it happen. Surround yourself with people who care about you, push out the negative thoughts, avoid the triggers, and be kind to yourself. I know I’ll get through this bout, because I have before, and this time is no different, even if the pressures and problems are new.
For now, as I write this, my girls are finally napping again, and dinner is already in the crockpot - and just to keep it real, there is a embarrassingly cheap box of wine in my fridge, and I am counting down till 5 o'clock. It's going to be okay.