A pessimist lives in my head.
You know what I’m talking about: the voice that tells you that you can’t; that you’re not good enough or smart enough; that you’ll just make a fool out of yourself (again) if you try.
The voice operates under the guise of self-protection. It whispers soothingly that it’s only trying to save you from heartache, disappointment, or embarrassment, so you listen. You give in and give up. But you know what?
The voice is a liar.
It’s not trying to protect you, it’s trying to defeat you. It’s not there to help, it’s there to hinder. What it really wants is to keep you unhappy, unfulfilled…stuck in the same old rut.
I’ve let this naysaying voice talk me out of far too much already in my twenty-something years. Now, I’m calling b.s. on it.
I’m tuning out that negative voice. I’m slowly reclaiming my self-confidence. I’m going to feel the fear — the fear of failure — and do what I want to do anyway.
I’ve known what I wanted to do with my life since middle school…I just haven’t had the courage to make it happen yet.
As part of an online game that I played in junior high, I learned how to create basic websites. Using resources available freely on the web, I taught myself how to hand-code HTML and CSS…and I was hooked. When I figured out that some people actually made websites for a living, I instantly knew that I wanted to do that too.
I took all the right steps toward my chosen career: I studied web design and development on my own throughout high school; I practiced building as many websites as I could; I selected a college major (Computer Science at first and later Multimedia Design and Development) based on my desire to work in the web industry. I discovered that I had a talent for programming, and it even lead to a part-time job working on websites at my university.
I was all set to follow my dream, or so I thought.
When I was confident that I knew enough about creating great websites to be able to charge for my services, I started to take the first steps to building a freelance business. I’ve been stuck in this phase — the “first steps” — for years now because of my negative, fear-inducing inner voice.
The cycle goes something like this: I decide to give freelancing another go. I come up with an idea that I can get excited about. I begin work on branding, creating a website, and setting up social media accounts; I might even muster enough courage to share the idea with my personal networks.
And then, like a poison, the fear slowly begins to seep in.
There’s too much competition. You’re not as good as the professionals at the top of your industry, so why even try? Nobody is going to take a chance on you. That idea will never work. You’ve failed so many times already…what makes this any different?
The pessimistic voice sounds like the voice of reason. After a few weeks of this false realism playing on repeat in my head, I am thoroughly filled with self-doubt.
I am convinced that the voice is right, and I give up.
I try to move on to something safer, more conventional (The list of part-time and short-term jobs I’ve held keeps growing as a result). I tell myself that it’s the right thing to do at the time. But, a few months later, I find myself discontent and ready to give freelancing another go.
The most recent victim in my string of “safe” occupations was crocheting. As usual, I convinced myself that it was better than sticking with the difficult process of getting my freelance web business off the ground. As usual, I tired of it once the new wore off and things started to get monotonous. As usual, I’m ready to return to the web industry and to try freelancing again.
This time, though, I’m determined to do things differently.
I’m aware of the power of the pessimistic voice, and I’m not listening to its silver-tongued sentiments any longer.