I was told as a teenager that I basically wasn’t good enough to be a writer. You can’t make a living like that. There’s too many writers, it’s too difficult for you. You should get an office job. I was told as a teenager that I basically wasn’t smart enough to be a web developer. The field is too vast. All those languages? They’re always changing. There’s no way I could do it. Never mind that it could be an office job. Now I’m almost 26 telling myself that I’m not good enough or smart enough for anything.
I don’t want to blame anyone for my inability to believe in myself, but damn. I’m not gonna name drop here because you never know when your name is attached to things who’s gonna find it and read it. (But if you, adult person from my youth, ever read this, don’t think I’m blaming you for anything. It’s not your fault I listened.)
I like to say that I don’t want to develop or design for other people. And that’s mostly true. It’s the same thing I say about writing. But there’s where everything falls apart, because I don’t do those things for myself, either. I’ll sit in front of the computer, staring, panicking. I’m never gonna be good or smart enough, right? So, what am I doing here? What’s on Netflix? How much money is in my bank account and can it cover a pizza? Six hours later and I’m laying in bed staring at the ceiling.
Don’t think that I take everything certain people said to me in my youth as concrete truth. If that were true, then I’d be way worse off. It is what it is. I’ve spent the last few years as an adult blaming people for things that happened in the past, unable to get over it. I never breach the topic of how things affect me today. Again, I’m not playing a victim or blaming anyone for my problems, but it’s a scientific fact that these kinds of things told to children and teens stick with them. And even knowing that, I can’t let go.
And it’s not like I can just confront them and then everything would be ok. Because they’d deny it, simple as that. Because people don’t want to hear that they ruined your ability to believe in yourself. They get defensive. I mean, same. If someone told me that I’d made it impossible to believe that they would ever amount to anything worthwhile, I’d get defensive too.
I’m confident in a lot of things. I don’t always hate everything about myself. But I still don’t believe in my ability to do much of anything. Web dev? “It’s too difficult, you can’t do it, it’s constantly evolving, you’ll never get into it.” Writing? “It’s too difficult, you can’t do it, there’s no future there, you’ll never get into it.” You know what I was never told? I was never motivated, I was only ever put down. I was never told I was good at anything. I wasn’t encouraged. Every choice was the wrong one. Every dream was fruitless and unobtainable. And it’s not like I was given alternatives.
Now I’m 26, with the same dreams I had when I was 11, still telling myself that I can’t obtain them. And that feels so, so gross. It’s not only myself that’s never good enough. Often, it’s my work itself. So even when I start, I end up stopping. Nothing ever gets done, completed, no continuing projects ever, you know, continue. I’m not good enough, so how can my work be? That whole, practice makes perfect thing? Doesn’t work for me. I’m a failure, or so I tell myself. And all anyone is going to see is a failure. So why am I trying, just to fail?
Overtime I’ve got close to breaking the cycle. I have a really productive week, or some small form of advancement, or some small bit of praise. I’m a glutton for praise. Then something happens. I fail again. And I never learned how to process failure as a strength. I read the words and memes and motivational posters. I get it. Failure is how we learn. Whatever. Failure is what I was told I’d always be. I was never given an alternative.
Now that I’m paying a large chunk of my paychecks for healthcare, I really need to go to a therapist. But the process is terrifying. I don’t trust people easily, because I have a reoccurring fact-based fear of being abandoned, mistreated, or ignored. So every time I look at lists of therapists I’m judging everyone. Too this, too that, doesn’t look trustworthy, too far. It’s the same process that keeps me from living life. It’s too difficult. I can’t do it. I’ll never get into it. Like I said, I know no alternatives.
I don’t really know how to learn that. How to learn to believe in yourself and motivate yourself and believe in good things. That shit’s hard. Like, really fucking hard. How do you rewrite 26 years of learned behaviors? I get that these questions are the kind you go and ask someone. I just need time. I need that one break in the cycle.