So, a while back my friend Yak Man wrote a post (“Waar ben ik goed in? translated: What am I good at?”) that inspired and motivated me to take yet another step in sharing my spiritual growth. Her post was about excellence: She wrote there are a lot of people she sees heaps of talent in, but she can’t seem to find/see her own talent. As I read her post, I couldn’t help but think
“I know how you feel“. Taking her post as my inspiration, I will share the train of thoughts I had before and after I learned to deal with my disorders. Take it as a sequel to “Forgiving, moving on and letting go” if you’d like.
So basically, my anxiety disorder made me anxious for literally everything. The smallest things could make my stress hormones fly sky high. I’m not even kidding. For today’s topic the fear of failing is the most important one, because this is the fear that keeps us from succeeding and exceeding. And even if you don’t have an anxiety disorder, this fear might sound a bit more familiar than you’d like. It’s the fear that kills ambition.
When I was little I was a very ambitious (maybe too ambitious ^^”) person. I remember when I decided to step into the world of web-design;I saw the most beautiful websites (beautiful at that time anyway hehe..) and without hesitation I thought: ‘I can do that too!’. So with those words in my mind, I started spending hours and hours (probably more hours than healthy.. ^^”) on the computer, designing stuff. And even when the next design was uglier than the previous, I was still proud of myself for spending so much time and effort on my ‘masterpiece’. What strikes me most when I think back is that I never feared for staying at the same novice-level. Somehow, at the back of my mind, I knew I was going to get better.
As time passed, the anxiety started kicking in. I didn’t know it back then, but thoughts like ‘will never be as good as …’ were making me feel like everything I produced was worth less than crap. Even when it was so much better than my first design, it wasn’t good enough. It never was. I started comparing myself with the best of the best, the crėme de la crème, the people with gazillion years of experience. And guess what? I lost the competition every.single.time. (obviously) As I ‘lost’ every competition, the fear of never being good enough was growing and growing. Eventually, that fear made me quit everything I liked to do. Because all my hobbies became competitions of which I could already predict who’d lose: me. Not because my work was so bad, but because my mind made it to seem bad. Even when all the people around me praised my work, I would still not believe it. And that last part is on of the most important things: Excellence comes from within yourself. The whole world could love your work, but as long as YOU are not satisfied, nothing will ever be good enough.
So it took me some time to realize this whole story. I found out that I never loved to do anything anymore, because I stopped doing it for fun. I did stuff to prove myself. The funny part? No one wanted me to prove myself, except me. So practicing my ‘hobbies’ got tiring, while I was already feeling tired from depression and anxiety. To make it easier for myself I quit every ‘hobby’, which made me even more depressed (because life was boring). It sounds stupid, but it’s the way a disordered mind works.
Now, I’ve learned to stop downgrading my work and start noticing the progression in my work. However, I never stopped comparing myself. But that’s not a bad thing. The difference between now and then is that I can still see the positive sides of my own work when I’m comparing it with others. At first, I had to force myself to see a positive thing for each negative thing. Now, criticizing my work the ‘normal’ way comes naturally (more or less). I admit, I still make mistakes now and then, but making mistakes is just human, right? I learn as I go.
As for you guys, I hope to motivate you to see the better side of the things you do. Realize that there will always be someone who is ‘better’ in your eyes. And that’s okay. Just because someone is better, it does not mean you are bad. Practice makes perfect. You just need to keep going and start seeing the positive sides of what you do. It makes things a whole lot more fun too. So, my lovelies, the answer to “What am I good at?” is:
You are good at everything you do in your OWN way. Don’t quit.
Love, My Linh