On Self-Doubt

I had a meltdown about writing—the process of—this morning. Simultaneously, my son, a recent BS degree graduate, did too—about job hunting.

His email to me while I’m melting down:

I’m applying for jobs and contacting these people but when absolutely no one contacts me back I feel like I’m just sinking. I’m just looking through meetups thinking that no one will ever want to continue a relationship. I just feel like a fucking failure.”

I emailed him back:

The only thing i know that works for me to shed these feelings is WRITING them to dad, or myself. i am doing that now. literally. i had meltdown this morning so i’m journaling. i will for a page or so, then get on with watching youtubers gaming to educate myself before i continue writing the power trip—which is what i melted down on this morning. from my journal:”

The absolute hardest part about writing fiction is shutting out the voices in my head that tell me I am not good enough to write this:

I’ll never get this right.

It’s too complex.

It’ll take too much research.

I’m too fragmented.

I’m not focused enough.

The subject won’t be topical if it takes too long to write.

I can’t DO this.

I keep losing the string.

I can’t hear the characters even after profiling them.

I get too wrapped up in superfluous details.

I don’t get to the point quick enough.

I don’t make it exciting, engaging out of the gate.

I’m too heady.

Too technical.

Too too too…

Give it up.

Too much work you’ll never finish anyway.

This is stupid to pursue.

You are wasting your time, not living your best life.

You’ve been working at this too long and are still nowhere…

His email back:

This is exactly what I freak out about as well. Just replace writing with coding.”

Me:

thing is, you have to combat the bullshit voices in your head.”

they are half-truths. not lies, cuz there IS truth in our fears, but only HALF truths. i can counter every one of the voices i just wrote in my journal…

Him:

But there’s always these looming feelings that I’ve accomplished nothing, done nothing. Am nothing.”

Me:

it’s not true. that’s fear—like you are a failure—because you’re scared you will be. And while the fear is valid, real, true, because there is a vague possibility you won’t find a job you want, the WHOLE TRUTH is you are virtually 100% guaranteed to find a job if you keep looking for one, and likely a coding job you’ll like.

Another truth is you’ve proven you can code as a straight As graduate with a CS degree, which was your primary goal the last 4 years. and you did it. Well!”

Him:

I seem to be unable to compartmentalize my feelings.


Me:

this is LEARNING, em, applying for your first real job that isn’t a part-time gig. you WILL get this. guaranteed, IF you keep working at it!! just like i’ll get the power trip written. see, i’ve already proven i can write with 7 books out, with mostly good reviews. and still i hear the voices of doubt as i write the lines to you above:

yeah, you’ve written 7, but they were all crap. 

and the good reviews, well, they were just being nice. 

the bad reviews are the truth about your writing. 

so GIVE IT UP, BITCH. you will always fail at this. 

and so on…

but again, em, i can COUNTER ALL OF THEM.

yeah, you’ve written 7, but they were all crap. BULLSHIT. MANY PEOPLE GAVE MY BOOKS REALLY GOOD REVIEWS.

and the good reviews, well, they were just being nice. BULLSHIT. JUST BULLSHIT CUZ THIS IS SUCH A STUPID THOUGHT.

bad reviews are the truth about your writing. NOPE. THEY ARE HALF THE TRUTH. OR A PERCENTAGE, BUT GOOD REVIEWS ARE THE OTHER PERCENTAGE AND IN MOST CASES THE GREATER PERCENTAGE ARE POSITIVE.

so give it up, bitch. you will always fail at this. FUCK OFF BITCH OF DOUBT.

His response:

Emoji smile. Clapping hands. Thank you hands.