A Belated IWSG: Fortunes and Doubt

Do you ever wonder why it's so much easier to doubt yourself than to believe you can do whatever you try? I wonder that. ALL THE TIME. I wonder that when I'm writing and thinking, This is garbage, isn't it? It is. I wonder that when I'm reading a book and thinking, I will NEVER be able to write like this. 

Is it some kind of sick defense mechanism where, if you tell the universe ahead of time that you're going to fail, you'll feel like you covered the bases if said failure happens and then no one can accuse you of having false hopes and you can just shrug and say, "See? I told you so"?

The weird thing is that even with all that self-doubt, deep down, I really do believe that people can do whatever they want to do.

The key word there, of course, is WANT.

I hear people doubting themselves all around me, every single day. Not just friends and family and people I know, but strangers having conversations on the train, in a restaurant, passing by on the sidewalk.

I can't find a job. It's impossible.

You can't or you won't?

I can't take care of myself without him. I can't live alone.

You can't or you won't?

I can't write a good book.

I can't or I won't?

It's depressing, all of this negativity. Because there is ALWAYS a way to do something, if you really WANT to do it.

Here's a way I remind myself of that, every time I sit down at my computer:

Left row, top to bottom:
  • Soon you will be sitting on top of the world.
  • Good luck bestows upon you. You will get what your heart desires.
  • The secret of happiness is not in doing what one likes, but in liking what one does.
  • Right now you need to be patient.
Middle row, top to bottom:
  • IT only gets better when YOU get better.
  • Your present plans are going to succeed.
  • We create our fate every day we live.
  • When you have to make a choice and don't make it, that is in itself a choice.
Far right:
  • All the effort you are making will ultimately pay off.

Yeah, I know that these are arbitrary little pieces of paper that aren't grammatically correct or even logical half the time. And I know they are written in such a way that anyone cracking open the cookie would be able to apply the fortune to their own situations.

But who's to say that saving these words, reading them, and thinking about them every day won't make me start to believe them?

And who's to say that that won't help me achieve what I want?

I'm sick of doubting myself... aren't you, too?


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Can't or won't - that really is what it boils down to, isn't it?

Laura Marcella said...

I have some fortune cookie messages on a magnetic chalkboard frame on my desk, too! Mine say:

• Doing little things well is a step towards doing big things better.
• One cannot do everything at once, but one can do something at once.
• Live out of your imagination instead of out of your memory.

Thanks for sharing your words of fortune cookie wisdom. And congrats on NaNoWriMo!! Now into revisions, whew!

Happy reading and writing! from Laura Marcella @ Wavy Lines

Tony Laplume said...

I believe in myself to a somewhat ludicrous degree. The problem is finding other people who believe in me to a comparable extent.

Tiana Smith said...

I'm sick of doubting myself too. It'll happen one day!!!!

Crystal Collier said...

I'm all for surrounding yourself with positive messages. One that I keep on my bathroom mirror and remind myself every day:

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." --Marianne Williamson

It's so true. =)

workofheart09 said...

It's so hard not to doubt yourself when trying to get published. I think back to my early writing, before I even knew what querying was, and it was definitely a lighter experience, if that makes sense. But once we're told no, no, no - for whatever reason - it just feels natural for the doubt to creep in. For me, it took totally letting go of the publishing quest to push back the worries. I made such a conscious point of doing that with my last book, to write it for myself and for the characters, and that's what brought the belief back. Does it still waver sometimes? Of course. Like you said, though, we have to surround ourselves with positivity ... it's infinitely important.

Medeia Sharif said...

I have moments of extreme confidence followed by doubts. I push them away, but they'll creep back into my mind.

I love fortune cookie messages.

Kimberly Gabriel said...

Very well said. YES! I'm sick of doubting myself. It's somewhat ironic that I go around on IWSG day and think "Why does she doubt herself? She's an incredible writer!!" (like I did here). Yet, I struggle to build myself up when I need it. You are a special writer Julie. Keep at it!

Julie Dao said...

Alex: It really is! Most of the time, it's "won't."

Laura: Yes, we are so totally on the same wavelength with fortunes! I love yours - thank you for sharing <3 Congrats to you, too, and good luck with your revisions!

Tony: Nice, good for you.

Tiana: IT WILL. Believe it. One day we'll be looking back on all this self-doubt and wondering why we ever had it.

Crystal: That's such a lovely quote! Thanks so much for sharing. It reminds me of the Desiderata, which my fifth-grade teacher introduced us to and which I love dearly. One of my favorite quotes from it: "If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself."

Shari: YES. That makes total sense. A writer friend once told me to never think of "no" as meaning "no," but "not yet." I try to keep that in mind, and to remember that almost everyone has a tough road, too. I think it's great that you've learned to write for yourself and for the characters, and I have complete faith in you <3

Medeia: SAME. But you are awesome, and your books are awesome, and you should just accept it as such :)

Kimberly: Hi! Long time no see <3 Whoever said that we are our own worst critics was definitely right. The feeling is mutual, lady!

Donna Hole said...

I have an affirmation on my computer that says "It is now and in this world that we must live." Not very encouraging, maybe; but it reminds me to create my own opportunities. And then to strive to achieve my goals.

Sometimes I get it right, sometimes not and I have to try again.


Margo Berendsen said...

This is why I collect quotes... I save them as screen shots and then put then on my computer's background, set to change every few minutes so I get a continuous cycle of inspirational quotes and photos. I really do believe if you look at something often enough and think about it, it can influence the way you work and even achieve.

Julie Dao said...

Donna: That's a great quote and reminder!

Margo: I love that idea. I might just have to do that with these fortunes :)

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