Last week I wrote about how anxiety manifests itself within me. Today I’m writing about how other issues, namely low self-esteem, self-doubt, and a real lack of confidence affect me. I’ve separated the posts as anxiety feels significantly different to me than these issues. As I noted last week, anxiety comes and goes within my life, whereas these issues are pretty much a constant. I find describing these more difficult to do than the anxiety issue so please bear with me if this post meanders a little or if I seem to contradict myself at times. I’ll try my best to ensure the post has a logical flow.
As in last week’s post, one thing I must state before I continue is that I am in no way a medical expert. My views within this or any other blog posts are solely that – my views and in no way underpinned by any medical expertise or theory.
In planning this post, I tried to think back to when this first began affecting me, though I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I’ve never been the most confident of people but I’m pretty sure these issues have been more problematic during my adult life rather than my childhood. The same applies with anxiety too. I’ll delve into potential root causes next week though it’s important to mention this here as it’s something I believe has really taken hold since I left school. From what I can remember, I was a fairly carefree and happy-go-lucky child during my early years.
I find describing my lack of self-confidence really difficult to do, which is where the slight contradictions may surface. On the one hand, I know the things in life which I’m pretty good at. I don’t like to shout these things from the rooftops but the two examples that I need to reference here are playing guitar and writing. I’m certainly no Jimi Hendrix though I can hold a tune and am competent enough to be able to perform decent gigs with the fantastic singer I’m extremely lucky to work with. Where writing is concerned, I don’t have huge amounts of published work though I believe I can articulate myself well and write lucidly. Others tell me I am talented at both but I really am not comfortable in taking such compliments. I realise that may sound bizarre but it never sits comfortably with me, whether discussed in 1-2-1 conversations or in broader forums. It’s as though I have some form of imposter syndrome – that the words are nice to hear though they can’t be truly meant; they mustn’t apply to me. As I wrote last week, I do overthink things, plus I am something of a perfectionist. I find it much easier to analyse situations and pick them apart to a quite ridiculous degree, often honing in on what wasn’t quite right, rather than accepting the situation for what it was and moving swiftly on. I’m good (really good, actually…) at beating myself up over things and finding fault in everything I do, especially in areas other than the two examples I’ve given here. Some people tell me I’m good at my job as a Project Manager – I don’t necessarily agree and would rather quote the times when I’ve made wrong decisions or could have done something better than accept the compliments and agree. I’ve been told on occasion that I’m a good husband and father but, again, I don’t wholly agree and could highlight many examples of when that hasn’t quite been the case. I could quote many, many other examples here but hopefully you get the point already. Each and every one of us is flawed to some degree and it just feels more natural for me to hone in on the areas requiring improvement rather than basking in the glory of the elements which do work well.
Having written all of the above, here is a humdinger of a contradiction – I do like to think of myself as a positive person (!), certainly when it comes to my general outlook on life and also when helping and supporting others. Life truly is for living and we certainly have too many critics around these days and not enough people willing to support, encourage and bolster the confidence of others. Social media has a lot to answer for but isn’t solely to blame – this does appear to be a good old British character trait, after all. I really want my desire to help and support others to apply when I self-analyse but sadly, that is rarely the case. This has cost me dearly throughout my life. I started to teach myself guitar when I was 13. I can’t remember the exact age but I didn’t join my first band, and therefore play in public, until my early thirties, purely to a lack of confidence and self-belief. I am hopeless at job interviews – completely hopeless, actually. I just can’t sit in a room, sell myself for an hour and big-up my achievements in front of people. I just can’t do it, certainly not to the degree I should be able to. That has been the case for the past 28 years or so and, try as I might, I am certain it will remain the case for the rest of my life. I do try to step out of my comfort zone as much as I possibly can (more of this in a future post) though that remains difficult and I am sure I’ve missed out on many wonderful opportunities as a result of finding that to be a battle. I hope that one day I’ll have a greater level of self-esteem and, whilst it should certainly be possible to change that, I’m not holding my breath right now…
I’m conscious that I could have expanded on some of the above points, though to do so would result in a really lengthy post, therefore next week I’ll be writing about what I believe to be the root causes of my issues. There are at least a couple, with one in particular being especially prevalent. A spoiler alert in advance of that post – whilst I’m comfortable with who I am as a person, I really, really don’t like how I look. Body-consciousness seems to be a much more public and debated issue these days and it affects me hugely. I have a constant fear of being judged based on appearance. At best, it’s always in the back of my mind, certainly on a daily basis, often numerous times each day. At worst, it results in a real case of self-loathing; again, on a fairly frequent basis. But more of that next week.
I have just 1 or 2 more weeks or writing my initial posts (the negative content, if you will) before I begin sharing content of a much more positive nature, which is my ultimate objective. I have been overwhelmed with all the feedback and comments to date. The issues I’m discussing are certainly more widespread than I first envisaged, even in my immediate friendship group, and that gives me even greater impetus to continue with this.
Until next time.
Mick I can’t tell you how grateful I am that you are writing these brave, honest and insightful posts on what you have been going through. Reading this one was a bit strange as it resonated so much. It felt like I’d written it myself! It really is comforting to know I’m not the only one whose mind feels like a tumble dryer! Don’t you find the constant self criticism exhausting! The annoying thing is knowing how futile it is but we still put ourselves through it! Funny you should mention the comfort zone. I push myself to get out of it even if it’s very uncomfortable as it’s so gratifying once you’re out there. I once remember asking if you got stage fright (as I do) and you said like a rock star, “nah!” I was so jealous! I’d never have guessed you’d gone through such bad times. I’m positive that your writing will help you and others to be, even if initially only a bit, kinder to yourself and one day, you will only remember the debilitating anxiety as a distant memory. Keep going and keep writing. Thanks and take care, Lobster X
Yes, the constant self-criticism is hugely exhausting! You must have caught me post-gig when you asked that question, or I must have been trying to hide it – the stage fright always kicks in early on in gigs. Most times it disappears over the course of the set but not always…
Thanks for the kind words and take care. Will be good to catch up next time you’re over here (summer, I believe?). x
Woah there my boy. Question yourself as a husband and father ??? You are up there with the best and if I could chose who I could have been like it would be you right there at number one. You are a great husband and father with a wife and daughter who adore you which is clear to see.
I never worry about anything and follow your grandads philosophy – cross bridges when you get to them and feel I am very strong but your writings since you started this blog surpass my strengths. This takes some doing and since the first minute you were born I will always be here for you and count myself the luckiest man alive to have you as a son.
If I had turned out to be half the man you are I would be very happy and if all of your writings help just one person, then it’s all worth it.
Thank-you – much appreciated. Though none of us are perfect, hence the husband and father comments. I get on my soapbox far too often at home, about matters which are largely inconsequential. That’s one of the things I was referring to.