Tag Archives: fear

When You Feel Like Giving Everyone the Middle Finger

Yesterday, on the way to the post office, my daughter and I passed two guys walking down the street. As we parked our car the two men stopped on the sidewalk in front of us. We had ring-side tickets to their performance as they thrust their middle fingers into the air and waved them at all of the cars passing by on the road. My daughter joyfully exclaimed, “Those guys are idiots!” as she marveled at their behavior. I smiled to myself as I agreed with her. I smiled because I know that, as humans, we really do feel like giving everyone the middle finger sometimes. Most of us don’t do it of course. Most of us have manners and self-control. BUT…most of us do think about doing it every once in a while. Or maybe that’s just me. I’m probably just one of those seemingly quiet, sweet people with a streak of evil running through her core. Or maybe I just like to think about being the kind of person who freely let’s everyone know exactly how she is feeling in any given moment.

Anyway, I was thinking about those two guys today as I contemplated giving my computer the middle finger several times this morning. Maybe my anger should have been directed at the Internet or my lack of knowledge about html code and blogging guts and all of those letters, slashes, and brackets in my “blog template” that look like a foreign language to me. I was frustrated with my limitations as a webmaster (Yes, I am totally laughing as I refer to myself as a master of anything). Maybe I should have just given myself the middle finger. Maybe I still will…as long as nobody is looking.

You may have noticed a few changes around here. I’ve been accepted into the Blog Her publishing network which means I get to have advertising in my sidebars and maybe find a way to make this hobby of mine less expensive. I am excited about that! The only problem is I have to do some magic stuff behind the scenes to make it happen and I’m not very good at blogging magic. There were tears this morning, the gnashing of teeth, and the ever lovely: Pulling out of all the hair. Even after all of that I’m still not convinced my ads are working correctly on those darn mobile devices. Only time will tell.

The Blog Her ads team is amazing and helpful. I hope they get paid a lot of money as they patiently answer all of my questions via email and try to direct me to solutions. Either way, I am sure I will be driving them to drink before long. I’m practically driving myself to drink and now I am writing about it because everyone needs to know how hard I am trying over here (feel free to send chocolate or to give me your middle finger). I need a blog design intervention. This is almost as bad as when I tried to create my own logo. I say almost as bad because it’s not exactly over yet. It might even be worse. I might not find another Joules Dellinger to ride in on her white horse and save me from myself.

On top of that there is this whole problem with my websites speed. It is getting slower and slower. It took over 10 seconds for this page to load. That is like 16 months in dog years. I’m never going to be operating at light speed at this rate. I might not even achieve the speed of sound. I apologize to all of you who sat waiting for 8 seconds while the pictures in my sidebar came to life. I know what I have to fix, but I don’t know how to do it so I have sent out an S.O.S. to my blogging community. I’m looking for a professional to help me sort it all out. If you know anyone who does this sort of thing please send them my way!

I’m crossing my fingers, hoping for a hail Mary, and even doing a blogging rain dance because I am willing to try anything to get this gizmo working correctly. In the meantime, I’m going to take a break and face another BIG problem I am having. Another overwhelming obstacle to tackle:

When you feel like giving everyone the middle finger.
Fear is staring at a blank 36×48 canvas.

Blank Canvas Blues…it still seems more surmountable than blogging.

My Brush With A Possible Serial Killer

There I was, parked in the shade of a tree at a park in Deming, New Mexico, painting flowers on watercolor paper, when a big, white, windowless van drove into the parking lot. It drove slowly. Too slowly. It almost seemed to stop as it drove past my car. The van pulled into a parking spot at the other end of the parking lot. Nobody got out.

My first thought was serial killer. Because I am crazy. Because I have seen all eight seasons of Dexter. Because I read all of the Hannibal
books. Because who needs a windowless van unless they want to kidnap a 39 year old woman and torture her in some secret basement somewhere?

I’m not proud to admit it, but these were the thoughts running through my paranoid brain as I side-eyed that van. I was in Deming, New Mexico after all, the place Charles Manson once referred to as “The gates of hell.” He may have just been complaining about the heat, but I wasn’t taking any chances.

Soon enough a man emerged from the van. He walked around the van kicking the tires and stretching. Likely warming up for the inevitable chase and making sure his wheels could handle the extra weight of a struggling woman. Then he stood next to his van and just stared at me. Just stared right at me.

That’s when I started looking for my car keys. I mean I was just sitting here with the windows open and the doors unlocked. Being able to leave at a moments notice suddenly seemed very important, but I could not find my keys. They weren’t anywhere. I checked the ignition, my lap, the floor. Finally, I opened the door and got out of the car so I could check under the seat. No keys. As a last resort I checked my purse. There they were! What a relief.

At this point I was starting to feel pretty ridiculous and like maybe I was blowing the whole windowless van thing out of proportion, but one glance toward the other end of the parking lot made me hold my breath. The man was gone.

I got back in the door, put the keys in the ignition, locked the doors and scanned the horizon. Finally I spotted him sitting on a park bench. He was staring right at me. Again.

I tried to look nonchalant, but I am sure I failed. I mean, I was just panicking over my keys and  here I was staring at a man sitting on a bench staring back at me. I picked up my paintbrush and started painting again. As long as he stayed there, and I had my keys in the ignition everything would be just fine. I kept stealing glances at the man and every time he was still looking right at me.

I decided to start packing up. I couldn’t get any work done  while having a staring contest with a possible serial killer. I just wasn’t comfortable. A little voice kept saying, “You’re imagining the whole thing,” but I did not care. I couldn’t relax. I was being watched while I was watching. It was all too much!

Just as I rinsed out my paintbrushes a large group of teenage track stars showed up and started running around the park. Then two other men drove into the parking lot, got out, and opened the hood to their car and started working on something.

The man on the bench started looking around. Then he got up, walked to his van, and got in. Shortly after that he started it up and as I watched, frozen to my seat, he drove out behind me just as slowly as he drove in.

I found myself wondering if I had just had a brush with a serial killer. I’ll never know for sure, but I can tell you, if I see you driving a large, windowless, white van than I will assume you are a murdering fiend. He could have just been staring at me because I was staring at him, but I’m glad I will never have to find out.

Impostor Syndrome (Share The Love Sunday)

Do you suffer from Impostor Syndrome?

I think I do. I recently bought a ticket to attend Blogher 2014. Right after I purchased the ticket I was super excited, but within a few minutes I started questioning whether or not I truly belonged at a conference like that. Was I a good enough blogger? Did I have enough experience? Would people look at my blog and realize I wasn’t a very good writer, a very good parent, a mediocre blog designer? Would they think, “Who does she think she is?” Never mind that the conference is designed for beginners and experts alike. I still worry that I don’t belong. Looking back on my life I can see how these questions come into mind for almost every project I take on. In college I had to study longer and harder than anyone else did. I had to get the A. I would feel terrible if I got an A-. I was afraid people would discover I wasn’t perfect, or smart, or talented enough to be there. I felt a constant need to prove myself. I did the same thing when I got my first job out of college. I worked lo

nger hours than my coworkers and went above the call of duty every chance I got. To prove something, probably that I belonged there at all.  It was exhausting. I also discovered that no matter how hard I worked I never really felt competent. I always could have done better.

I hear that voice in my head questioning my ability when it comes to my art too. I worry that people will discover I am not a “real” artist. I wonder when people will finally realize I am a fraud. I think this keeps me from getting too close to people and it keeps me

from being truly successful. While I fear failure, I fear success even more. I am afraid success will expose all of my faults and limitations. People expect more out of successful people and I fear that I will not live up to those expectations. I worry I won’t be prepared enough even though I spend hours and hours preparing.

Overcome Impostor Syndrome

It’s like I am walking around trying to keep a secret. A secret that only exists in my own mind. I’ve thought a lot about how this Imposter Syndrome developed for me. It’s easy to blame my childhood. I could say it’s because I grew up in the shadow of alcoholism where keeping secrets was a way of life. I could point to the times people felt the need to explain that I was “lucky” to be a part of some group because I wasn’t really talented enough to be there. I could point to the times people asked me, “Who do you think you are?” That happened more than once when I got a little too confident about something. I certainly got the message that it wasn’t polite or appropriate to be too proud of my accomplishments. I’ve noticed that I have a tendency to downplay my achievements and I also don’t accept compliments very graciously. I sometimes wonder if I get this from my mom. My mom is a wonderful cook, but every time someone tells her a dish is delicious she is quick to point out everything that is wrong with it. As if to remind people and herself that she isn’t THAT good at preparing delicious meals.

In my family I was the overly sensitive one and my sister was the intelligent one. I think these family labels still cling to us today. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to prove to family members that I am smart too. As I’ve gotten older I’ve stopped caring about what other people think so much, but sometimes it is a real challenge to break out of those family dynamics. Those roles become so ingrained in us that even when we are aware and intellectually able to separate our self-concept from the role we had as a child, we occasionally find ourselves stumbling back into them again. I find myself repeating the phrase “You have no power here!” when those old patterns and ghosts from my childhood rear their ugly heads. It’s what I tell my inner critic. For some reason that helps.

The thing is, as a child, I was also told I was smart and talented and a good person by lots of people. As a child I received compliments on my good behavior, my artwork, my ability to get along well with children younger than I was, but for some reason I was more quick to internalize the negative messages I received than the positive ones. I have no idea why that it is, but I still do that to some extent as an adult. For instance, 20 people can compliment me on a painting, but it only takes one person to say, “Oh isn’t that cute,” in a condescending tone to make me doubt my abilities, knowledge, and talent. That one comment will get the most of my attention. That one comment will make me feel like I need to work harder and harder until I please that person. Unfortunately, some people are never pleased, which I am learning to recognize and not beat myself up over…or not really care about. Some people are just saying those things because they feel insecure or because they want to make sure other people feel as miserable as they do. They might be suffering from Impostor Syndrome as well. It doesn’t mean what they say is true anymore than what I think is true. Twenty people liked my painting. Those are the opinions that should matter most. Those people have taste, right? Internalizing that praise makes more sense because the majority of people had something positive to say so in reality most people think my painting is pretty good. That’s a more rational approach than clinging to one negative reaction. If twenty people thought it was poorly done and only one loved it, well, that might be a signal that you need to take another look at your workmanship. I mean, there is value in recognizing when improvements can be made and when working harder is a more “accurate” response to criticism.

Anyway, now that I have told you a little about how Impostor Syndrome affects me I want to share some insightful ways on how to deal with it if you recognize some of these thought patterns and traits in yourself. We don’t have to live like this. There is hope. We can change the way we see ourselves. I know it’s possible because I am much more confident than I was 10 years ago and while I still struggle with these thoughts I can at least recognize them for what they are now: Hogwash.

 

Do you want to know more about what Impostor Syndrome is? Check out this resource page from the Caltech counseling center: The Impostor Syndrome.

Want to read about how Impostor Syndrome affects gifted students and high achievers? Read The Curious Case Of Impostor Syndrome published on Byrdseed.

Want tips on how to overcome Impostor Syndrome? Read 10 Ways To Overcome Imposter Syndrome by Joyce Roche or read Overcome ‘Impostor Syndrome’ And Believe In Yourself by Erin Cox.

 

At some point we have to acknowledge that the thoughts we have about our abilities and talents aren’t exactly accurate. We have to admit that we are pretty awesome just the way we are. So, I am going to go ahead and say it to myself right now:

You are good enough at blogging to go to Blogher. You work hard and have earned the success you have. You deserve to accept the opportunities that knock at your door. You are an artist. You are a good wife, mom, and human being. You are imperfect, but you have worth. Being sensitive is not something to be ashamed of. It is a gift. Being sensitive allows you to feel empathy for your fellow human beings. It allows you to see nuances and to feel things. Embrace it!

What would you say to your inner critic right now? What is the truth about you?

 

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