Thursday, November 29, 2012

Crisis of Confidence

Does it go without saying that this is a hard post to write?  I'm not even sure where I'm going yet as I hesitantly coax words from my keyboard, but I have a suspicion that I am not alone, and it would be reassuring to know for certain if that is true.

It's one thing to understand, intellectually, that nobody is perfect.  That people make mistakes and we're supposed to learn from those errors, and that we are all flawed creatures not living up to our potential.  But it's another to look out from our solitary perspective trapped in our own bodies day after day and see all the ways we are falling short.  Some days I feel like an utter failure.

I feel guilty on one level even writing that because it sounds ungrateful.  My body works, my kids are adorable, my husband is wonderful and we are all together.  I still have my parents, I feel close to my brothers and their families, and we have a weird dog to snuggle.  I enjoy my work, I love my house, I have friends, and hobbies, and we don't lack for anything important.  I even have Rubik's cubes with our store logo on them which is pretty darn cool in my book.  Life is good and I'm not saying it isn't.  I am an exceedingly lucky person and I know that.

However, some days are just inexplicably harder than others.  And the days that feel the worst are the ones where I know I don't measure up.  There are days where reassuring myself that I'm good enough feels akin to being a fraud.  It's painful.


There are people who believe I know more than I do, and I feel ashamed when I let them.  There is so much I don't know, that I should know, that I want to know....  I am humbled by how much I will never understand, by the number of books I will never read or the places I will never get to.  There are days I wonder what landmines I am tripping in conversations due to my ignorance.  I feel guilty about the number of things I am not doing.

I've had a few of days here of feeling overwhelmed at work, which spirals into not feeling present as a parent because I'm needed at the store and can't see my kids as much.  I'm frustrated with my weight more than usual.  I made the decision to abandon all hope of finding an agent for my novel after years of constant rejection and am beginning to embark on the less respected path of self-publishing which is disheartening.  I'm at a complete loss about what to do with my non-fiction book at this point.  I got my scores back from the recent violin competition and some of them were harsh.  That, combined with the fact that I made a mistake working on something for a customer (I rectified the situation as best I could but I can't undo my error as much as I'd like to) has left me shaken and questioning myself at my bench.  I haven't felt qualified to do almost anything.  All I've wanted lately is to curl up in bed and watch the David Tennant seasons of Dr Who and eat chocolate.

But I get up anyway, and I make myself swim my mile in the morning.  And go to work and do the best I can and hope that it's okay.  I accept that failure in the writing industry doesn't have anything to do with how much I enjoy writing.  I remind myself that I threw my violin into an international competition and of course I was going to be judged harshly there.  (At the banquet I shared a table with a double gold medalist from France, and at the adjacent table were not one but two MacArthur genius award recipients, so no, I was not destined to score well by comparison.)  I remember my kids don't care what I weigh and my husband still thinks I'm cute.  I hate myself when I let people down, but I'm human.  I'm not capable of doing everything right every time.  I screwed up but the world is still turning.

That's the pep talk anyway.  And I'm pulling out of my slump.  The main thing I try to think about when I'm down is what I would say to any of my kids if they were having the same struggle.  I would tell them mistakes are how we learn.  Perfection is boring.  We must strive to forgive and in turn remember to forgive ourselves as well.  That I love them all the more for being human, not less.

That's so easy to do for my kids.  Why is it so hard to do for myself?

22 comments:

  1. Oh Korinthia, you are so not a failure to me. I'm a true blue fan and I admire you greatly. We all have moments like this, but maybe it will help you to know that when I think of you, I think of a wonderful, loving wife and mother who's patient, kind and funny. I greatly admire that you celebrate the quirks in your children and are unafraid of letting them find their own paths in life. It's a rare quality in a mother and one which should be celebrated. You seem to balance everything - your own small business, your writing and your family - so beautifully and you're a wonderful role model for your kids. Everything that I hold to be valuable in life seems to be plentiful in yours. I admire you greatly. You're kick-ass!

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    1. Thank you, Rhona. I'm so glad you still read my blog. I think most of the time I do have a pretty nice balance of things going, but man when it gets off it's no fun.

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  2. It sounds like a series of disappointing things, all colliding into one at the same time, which amplifies the effect of each one. You should check out Penelope Trunk's blog...she talks a lot about how to get noticed with self-publishing. She's quite quirky, but has some interesting things to say. Over time, the sting of all of these things will lessen. I would recommend focusing on one thing you want to deal with or change at a time...that will make you feel more successful than if you tried to deal with more than one and just get overwhelmed. Peace and blessings to you.

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    1. Thanks for the recommendation! Really interesting blog. Nice suggestion about narrowing my focus. That is usually how I do things, but some days things get scattered no matter what I do.

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  3. We are all our own worst critics. We have to live with ourselves daily and see all our flaws. Sometimes it's easier to focus on those flaws and failings than on all that we do that is wonderful and good. I think it's tough when everything seems to be going cattywampus all at the same time. And, before we know it, we're in a deep blue funk with nothing but the Doctor to make us forget for a while.

    I wish I had the words to make this better for you. Your kindness on another's blog is what drew me to you and your writing is what has kept me coming back. I read your words and am envious you are able to express yourself so concisely and yet so eloquently.

    Your blog truly IS a quiet corner in this bustling busy internet world and I'm grateful to have it as a place to come and just "be". Thank you for that, and please, be easy with yourself. Yes, you aren't in the best place right now, but if you keep swimming and keep going, everything should settle back into place before you know it.

    (As for that weight thing, I'm just trying to maintain through Christmas and will start back up gangbusters in the New Year.)

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    1. Thank you, Rach. Reading your blog is like visiting the nicely organized neighbor I wish I were! And yeah, there are too many good cookies to pass up that I think I'll go back to putting vegetables front and center in January.

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  4. Korinthia,
    I adore your blog. Your writing has this unique humility and kindness to it that always draws me back for more.

    I completely get where you're at; I go there often myself and I struggle too with why is it we are able to show up so confidently for our children, yet find it challenging to do the same for ourselves?

    From my tiny corner of the world to yours: I think you're terrific. : )

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    1. That's very nice of you, Geralyn. Thank you.

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  5. First, you are a very talented writer. That is a given. If you're up for it, my book club is still up for giving your novel a read. I've already sent a bunch of them your way and they too love your writing.

    Next, sounds like lots of yuck all converged at the same time. That just sucks and I'm sorry. I often struggle with what I know intellectually about my life and our situation that should allow me to cut myself a break, but I still feel like crap about what I perceive are all my failings. I wish I had wisdom and advice to solve that issue. Just know I know how you feel and I hope you feel better about everything.

    Hang in there. I thinking of you and sending positive vibes.

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    1. I enjoy your writing very much, so I appreciate the compliment. (I submitted your blog to the Mom 101 list of under-appreciated blogs people should read. If she puts together a finished list I hope you are on it!)

      I'm currently sifting through book cover submissions on a crowd sourcing site, but when the book is officially done and up on kindle or print on demand or whatever I end up doing I will let you know! It would be fun to field questions from a book club. (Or as Mona would ask, "Any questions or compliments?")

      Thanks for the good vibes.

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  6. Oh Korithia! Life is SO like, this, no? I find that all the crummy things that can happen, happen at once to me and then things just...get better.

    I think it's very counter to what it seems but during these times of suffering (sorry to use that word, but that's the way I feel when my confidence is down) we actually can grow. We can either work harder or let up and focus on other things.

    The fact that you have SO many talents is simply amazing. I'd love to know what it's like to REALLY write (and not have to work so hard at it) and to be able to play ANY kind of musical instrument. I think you are simply AMAZING.

    Hang in there and just know that you are amazing and loved by people that haven't even met you! :)

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    1. Thank you, Caroline. From someone as amazing as you it means a great deal. (And it's never too late to learn to play an instrument! Just saying.)

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  7. I know the feeling. Sometimes we are so hard on ourselves and less forgiving of our own mistakes but we are human so mistakes are inevitable and life has shown me challenges are too but, the fact that you have made it this far means something. And along the way you have had some great things happen. It can be hard not to get discouraged but hopefully you can find a way to continue to keep in mind the things that have worked out in the end regardless of the path you took to get there. Yesterday I wanted to curl up and eat chocolate too. I struggle at times as well, especially when I have bad days. I get discouraged when my heart's desire isn't happening yet ( I say yet because I keep hoping and am working on being more patient). You definitely are not alone in what you are feeling. I'll be thinking of you!
    Lovely blog!!

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    1. Nice to know I'm in good company. Thank you, Krishann.

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  8. I hear you...it's sooo hard when we are creative or makers and put ourselves out there. And sometimes it's great and sometimes what we do just doesn't hit the mark. And that is hard. That gap again between who we want to be/skills we want to have and who we are right now. Today.

    Maybe find a moment to curl up on the couch and watch Dr. Who. Then when you've regrouped, start again. Like us makers do. Pick up and start again.

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    1. I think you're right--there is an added vulnerability when what we do is about making things ourselves. Every time I put my writing out there I'm both scared people will read it and scared that they won't. Thank you for your comment.

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  9. The fact that you live the full life you do and do this: "But I get up anyway, and I make myself swim my mile in the morning." That's really impressive to me. I need to find a way to do that.

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    1. Ugh, the swimming. My mom asked me recently if I like it, and I wasn't sure how to answer because I don't dislike swimming but I dislike things about it (like having to do it at all). But I have to exercise and it's the least disagreeable form of it for me, so I've simply forced myself to make it a fixed part of my schedule. Drop off kids at school, drive to the Y. At least at this point if I don't do it for some reason it feels weird, so I'm on the right track I think.

      Thanks for reading. I always appreciate knowing you're out there!

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  10. I think you're perfect. Actually, if you drank coffee, you'd be perfect. So: almost perfect. It's okay to feel a little bit awful sometimes, though. It's grist for the mill.

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    1. I like coffee in chocolate, does that count? (You'd be perfect if you ate coconut.)

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  11. Unlike you, I'm no writer, so won't put this as well as you would. But I love your blog precisely because of your humility and lack of artifice. It's real life, a bit wonky and not instagrammed to perfection. Your honesty and willingness to put yourself out there (but not in a car crash way) is refreshing. I hope you enjoy your sofa time and feel better soon. Don't change!

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