When everything you know is wrong

Published April 21, 2010 by Syllable

Even the heading is wrong. It would be more accurate if it read: “When everything you tell yourself is wrong”. Because usually the stuff we do tell ourselves is utter crap.

Except for the few people who will lament they are useless in order to receive compliments and praise, a lot of us struggle with genuine insecurity over our skills. We tell ourselves that we can’t do things: we’re not talented, creative, clever, resourceful enough. Yet deep down we know it is not true, but for whatever reason we believe it is.

Thanks to lots of therapy (what are you snorting at?) I’ve started to explore why I have this silly ‘I-am-not-good-enough’ complex, which stands in stark contradiction to my determination, ambition and competitive personality. Sure it would be easier to say “Well, my closest friends, certain members of my family and a variety of total strangers can’t all be wrong”. Something about treating the symptom but not the disease? And it’s true (I’m not conceited in admitting this; you have no idea how long it has taken me to get to this point); I have a way with words. I write flowing, entertaining copy; I can hide being an utter bitch under diplomacy.

Believe in yourself

I am also as good an example as anyone else that the only thing that limits one’s potential is oneself.

Last year, like every other year for the past six years, I had this grand idea of studying something. An idea that has resulted in a lot of wasted money and nothing to prove, partly as a result of self-doubt, and a little due to my utter inability to grasp anything related to accounting. Circumstances prevented me from doing the wasteful/disappointing exercise, but this year I registered for a copywriting short course at Vega.

The day to start the course arrived and I faced the stressful route from Pretoria to Johannesburg via the N14 and northern suburb traffic. Two hours later I was sitting in a class with eleven strangers. Another two hours later I started the hour long commute home.

I called my best friend in tears. The (substantial – at least for me) deposit I had paid for the course is non-refundable, but that paled in comparison to the amount of money I’m going to have to spend on the additional 240 km I needed to travel every week for the next 11 weeks. Not to mention the physical exhaustion. And I may not know anything about accounting, but three hours’ travel for two hours’ class just didn’t balance to me. I’m not going back, I declared.

After patiently listening he calmly tells me to sleep on the decision. The next morning he convinces me to go back once more at least, and that he’ll assist me financially where possible. Finally I admit the real reason I don’t want to go back (because you can’t argue with someone that rational): I am doubting my ability to make a success of the course. My friend responds: “I know you can do this, your mother know it, as does your boss. Go back and prove to yourself you can. You know you can”.

Two months, two assignments and an average of 64,5% later (and no, I’m not procrastinating by writing this, despite having another assignment due in a little more than 24 hours. Promise!), I have never been more grateful for my wise friend. And the encouraging words of the lecturers.

I only have six compulsory trips to Johannesburg left. I’m both relieved and sad about it. But now, more than ever, I’m convinced that I am brilliantly creative. Okay, maybe that’s a little conceited, but that I am everything everyone I hold dear is telling me I am, and that I need to tell myself I am – because I know I am – is true.

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