Let me preface this post by saying that I wasn’t sure if I should publish it or not. I pride myself on being an optimistic, proactive person, and in some ways this post goes against that. But the more I thought about it, the more I felt that it was important for others to see the flip side, too. To know that they’re not alone in feeling this way sometimes. And to know that it’s possible to move past it. So here it goes…
You don’t realize how insecure you’ve become until you’re staring at a list of audio clips waiting to be transcribed, afraid to select one. That list, full of three-minute snippits, can be more intimidating than a huge work project or screaming toddler. But why? It’s not like they were a matter of life or death. They were a few minutes waiting to be transcribed for a few bucks. But selecting one, and attempting to type what was being said, was more nerve-wracking than just about anything I’ve done in the recent past. And it all boils down to one word: insecurity.
It’s no secret that I’ve struggled. It seems every project I’ve taken on, every career path I’ve attempted, every big plan I’ve made, has been met with failure, disappointment, and frustration. And I’m not just talking about professionally. My finances, my relationships, just about every area of my life ends up hitting a brick wall, crashing and burning. And if I think about it that way, it’s a miracle I’m still standing! But, despite my determination to be optimistic, these disappointments have taken their toll.
In dealing with my struggles, I’ve had to really evaluate what I want out of life, where I want my career and professional aspirations to lead me. But I’ve also had to accept that I need ways to support myself and my kids in the meantime. So I’ve brainstormed and researched and asked for advice. Yet, despite having several solid options for “side gigs,” I find myself hesitant to actually jump in to any of them.
Why? What is keeping me from making that leap?
I can tell myself that they’ll be boring. Or not what I want to do. But I’ve done plenty of boring things I don’t have interest in (and some of the options might not be so bad). I can tell myself that they won’t be worth the effort, won’t get me anywhere financially (but is spending my time “researching” helping? and what about the people who are getting somewhere doing those things?). I can tell myself that I’m better off working on my own projects, that they’ll bring in money eventually (yes, they might…eventually, after lots of effort and marketing and all that good stuff). But the reality? I have come to the realization that a big part of me is afraid to try something new, afraid of putting myself out there. All those disappointments have made me gun-shy.
Now, this is hard for me. Because I love a challenge. I love problem solving. I love figuring things out and looking at things in a different way. I love learning and being creative. So why am I struggling? These options are right up my alley: writing, editing, proofreading. I could look for people who need help with publishing e-books, or setting up a simple website. These are all things that I’ve done. They’re all things that I know I can do. So what’s the problem?
I’m scared of messing up. I’m scared that if I do mess up, that I’ll mess up somebody else’s stuff. In the past, if I’ve taken on a project, it’s been my own. If it doesn’t work out, well, no one feels the consequences but me. But if I’m doing work for someone else. If someone is paying me to write something, edit something, work on their project…well, that’s a whole different ball game. Then, my failure affects them.
I’m scared of failure. Again. Of putting myself out there and no one liking what I’ve done. I’m afraid that I’ll update my website, hang my freelance shingle, if you will, and people will realize I can’t write after all. That there’s a reason I’m a self-published author instead of a traditionally-published author. That there’s a reason I create my own websites for my articles rather than submit them to other sites. That I’m a fraud. A hack. And there’s no way they should pay me. And now I’ll be left with the realization that I’ve been lying to myself all these years and I can’t support my family with this.
Super depressing, huh?
Now, I’m the kind of person who can look at pretty much anything from different points of view. That means I can “talk myself off the ledge,” so to speak. I can take a deep breath, evaluate what I’ve done in the past, and tell myself what went right, what I should have done differently, and what was and wasn’t my fault. I can give myself a pep talk and cite examples to myself of people who enjoyed my work. But sometimes the insecurity wins. Sometimes I lose the debate with myself and slip back into self-doubt. Sometimes a list of three-minute audio clips will get the better of me.
But I refuse to let it win the war.
Yes, I did select an audio clip to transcribe (though the transcription itself took a lot longer than it probably should have). I did make a few errors (because I didn’t pay enough attention to the style guide). And I likely will try again. And I likely will try to take on some writing jobs or editing jobs. What other choice do I have? Fall into a financial crater and let my family suffer? I think not. So I will put myself out there. But it just might be the scariest thing I’ve done in a long time.