Giving Up vs. Giving In

June 30, 2008 at 1:35 pm (2008)

I don’t believe in myself as I should.  I put on a really good act most of the time, and there are days when my confidence level is high and I’m aware of my self worth, but those days are becoming more and more rare.

My mom used to tell me that I was too humble, which, yeah, I can be, but there are also some things which I know to be true.  For instance, I can try to sing, but even Riley my dog is better than I am when he howls; I love the piano, but I can only play a few bars of the same song; I’m ok at drawing, but not from the imagination.  And I really suck at math.  And I’m actually kind of disappointed by that.  

My mom always used to tell me that I was beautiful; I would roll my eyes, as any teenager does, and say, “yeah, right.”  But as we were talking over the weekend about something equally superficial, she kind of paused in our conversation and said, “you really don’t believe it, do you?”  And I had to admit: no, I really didn’t.  And I’m not just being humble.

I bring this story up because sometimes I wonder the same thing with my writing.  I believe that I’m a writer; I believe that there’s an ability there and some talent, and I have people around me who are encouraging and believe in me as well.  BUT.  What if I’m not good enough?  What if I’m really not good, period?  What if I’ve just managed to fool everyone around me, not to mention myself?

What if, God help me, I’m like one of those people on the American Idol auditions who think they can sing but can’t carry a tune?  And all of these people are being supportive and encouraging because they love you and it’s your dream, but you’re really just making a fool of yourself.

Now, I know I can write, and I’m not looking for any affirmation.  I know that there’s something there…I’m just not sure if that something is enough. 

I’m bringing all of this up because I received my first rejection today. It’s actually not a rejection that I’m too concerned about — I had submitted a short story to a writing competition of a literary magazine; it was one I had written back in college, so I thought I would take a risk and try to get it published.  I’m disappointed, yes, but I definitely didn’t think I could win.  Well, maybe a part of me hoped I could, but the truth is that I know I’ve written better.

I think. 

I hope.

I really, really hope.

See, here’s the part where I start to psych myself out.  I know that in order to be a serious writer, you’re going to get rejections.  And no matter how you try to cover it up and mask it, a rejection is a rejection is a rejection.  And they suck.

So how do I get back on track, stop thinking the absolute worst about myself, and believe in my capabilities again?

It’s a difficult feat to pull off, and it can very well lead to completely giving up — on yourself, on your dreams, on your passion.  In fact, for a split second, I actually wanted to throw my hands up in the air and yell, “That’s it! I give up!”  But I’m at work, I’m really not as upset as I thought I would be, and damnit, I just can’t give up.  It’s like there’s something ingrained in me that makes it an impossibility.

I really, really hate that side of me.

So, aside from patience and determination and independence and all of the other millions of lessons I’m learning, maybe I need to add “believing in yourself, really, truly this time” and “not psyching yourself out” to the mix.

Because I’m just not ready to give up believing in myself as a writer.  Until Simon Cowell tells me otherwise, that is.

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