Self-Doubt – Day 18

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. – 2 Timothy 1:7, KJV

Spending money is something I don’t really enjoy. I like having things, but I don’t like the process of actually purchasing them, especially when I’m not entirely sure about the product or the price. I usually go into situations knowing what I’m willing to pay for a product and how much I’m willing to spend on that trip. One thing I was never sure about, though, was buying stuff related to drumming.

Essentials were always obvious buys: sticks, drumheads, the like. Other types of things were always more difficult because I didn’t know how involved I would be in drumming, and didn’t want to invest a lot of money if drumming wasn’t going to “go anywhere” for me. The one instrument that was the epitome of this dilemma that I made for myself was a tambourine.

I spent actual years trying to decide whether I wanted to spend $30 on a tambourine. Would I use the tambourine enough to justify the price? What if I ended up never needing it – would that have been a waste of my money? Never mind that I had many other questionable purchases in the years it took my to finally buy a tambourine; the tambourine itself represented a completely different issue – how do I get past the doubts that I have about myself in order to move forward with anything?

I have spent at least the last hour listening to stand-up comedy on YouTube and playing mahjongg solitaire while trying to decide what to write about. With each topic, one of three different issues is raised: I don’t know if I can write enough about that; I don’t know if I have enough time to fully form an idea around that; I don’t know if that post will be any good.

As a perfectionist, the third thought is often what has kept me from trying different things. Good enough was never good enough. There’s always more research that could be done, more editing that could be done, better words or phrases that could be used…and that’s just for writing. There’s always more work that could be put into work, or learning a hobby, or developing a skill – thoughts that make starting something from scratch seem daunting. And Lord forbid if I were to make a mistake in any of my endeavors – misspelings can seem as large of an error as a factual error at times, but factual errors can be even more damaging when attempting to discuss broader issues.

As a people-pleaser, wondering if people will like what I do or make has often kept me from doing or making things. How devastating would it/could it be if people don’t like what I do? What if people don’t like the thing I say, or how I say it, or my beliefs or ideas, or anything about me personally? Will people be forgiving if I make a mistake? How do I know if I could do something better when I don’t know what people are thinking?

In the past – and especially since I began blogging every day – I have written more about myself than other topics because I feel I can get to a higher word count saying things about myself – I’ve known myself for a while now, and I can BS my way through a greater amount of content in a short amount of time than other topics. I have also avoided other topics in the past that I’ve thought of as more controversial because I don’t want to make people angry or have people not like the thing I made because of my stance. One of the worst feelings is to have what you’ve made dismissed out-of-hand without it having been read simply because someone can or thinks they can tell the position you come from or support. There are times when feeling confident that what I believe is right is not high enough to post something; there are times I feel I don’t know enough about something to be able to completely defend what I say; there are times I just don’t want to deal with all of the mess that is trying to have a discussion online (since that’s where all of my content ends up).

In many situations, I have been able to make a decision (more or less) on my own, like deciding to move to Denver and go to seminary. On seemingly many more occasions, it seems like trying to defer decisions I don’t know about or don’t feel confident about lead to decisions being made for me. Either through deadlines, outside circumstances, or some unforeseen happening, decisions get made, more often than not in ways I don’t like.

Growing up, I had a picture on my wall that consisted of a small Precious Moments-y figure (I think it was a bear), my name, and 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” I cannot begin to explain how many times as a kid or teenager I would look at that picture and wonder, “how can that possible be true?” As an adult, I think back to that picture and sometimes wonder the same thing. Whether because of some sort of predisposition or because of a lifetime of practice, it seems that fear and self-doubt can come much more easily than power, love, and a sound mind.

This issue is more present in my mind now, perhaps more than ever, because I don’t know what’s supposed to happen next in life. I know things I want to do, but am not sure how to do them. I know things I don’t want to do, but they seem more readily available. Above all, I don’t often know how to approach situations where there is no one right answer. The step of making a decision and not looking back at what could have been is not one that is easy for me, and it does not help that I continue with more questions than answers.

(A brief aside to end this – I’m not sure how other people feel when they write, but I can literally get lost in what I’m writing, and coming out of the process can almost feel like coming out of a trance. As I got to the last paragraph here, I realized how personal some of what I’ve been sharing recently has been, and how strange some of this information can seem when breaking the fourth wall. This could be a post in and of itself, but I do want to talk about it before more time passes. I don’t think I realized how journal-like this project could actually become, but I don’t plan on ending the discussions about what I’m thinking about or experiencing. As I’ve said, I don’t know where I’m going, but if I do ever “get there,” I guess I’d like some record of the difficulties as well as any victories that happened. The same is true for not “getting there.” I don’t know if we appreciate how hard life can be (said unironically from a pretty privileged position) or the different things it takes to get through life. Until something changes, this is where I am right now.)

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