For most of my life, I’ve struggled with feeling like I’m good enough.
I was the “problem child” growing up and countless adults told me I’d never amount to anything. I wanted nothing more than to prove them wrong.
So I focused my energy, made all the rights moves and landed my dream job as a writer right out of college. I excelled and was promoted to editor very early on. I worked 60+ hours a week, barely slept, ate terrible, kept the wrong company, drank and did drugs to quiet the noise in my head. Everyone kept telling me how great I was. I really wasn’t convinced myself, but who was I to argue? I took all the praise but I always felt like an imposter: like I wasn’t smart enough, or talented enough, or creative enough, or dedicated enough. Like someday, everyone would see through me and discover what a failure I was.
I had no confidence in myself and I felt worthless. I felt like my past mattered more than my present. Like I’d never escape who I used to be, or how people used to see me as.
So I learned to get all my self worth from my job, even though it felt like the workload was killing me. I thought about suicide weekly. I questioned my abilities daily. I broke down in my boss’ office almost every other day (thanks for always putting up with me, Kris, you rock). But no matter how much of a failure I saw myself as, the awards and accolades kept coming. So I kept hanging on.
Until one day, I realized I couldn’t do it anymore. I was dying inside.
I stepped away, refocused my energy and shifted into a different role at a different company. I finished my master’s degree. I finally fulfilled my dream of becoming a college professor (OK, so I was only an adjunct professor, but still). I learned to meditate. I did yoga. I saw a therapist. I got hypnotized. I read self-help books. I learned to deal with my childhood trauma. The point is, I did a lot of work on myself to get to where I am now.
These days, I write for myself and that’s working out nicely for my mental health. I’m still focused on finding ways to gain self worth from inside, not outside forces and conjuring up confidence in who I am, not what I can offer a company, which is a reminder I think a lot of us can use.