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Literary Ramblings and Thoughts, Non-Fiction, Other Musings, Why Not?

Monday Musing and Motivations – Part Fourteen – Doubt

Do you ever have one of those days when you just feel kind of uncertain?  You can’t really put your finger on exactly what you’re uncertain about, it’s kind of an underlying hum of something not quite right.

I’m trying to pinpoint where it came from.  I had a good week finishing an article for a client I’ve worked with before.  All involved were happy with my work, it was a difficult subject that required research and I had to talk with some professionals and then write it in such a way where it appealed to “average people” and the professionals that knew much about the subject.  It’s a fine line, but I nailed it.  And now it’s over, done.

That must be it — it’s over.

When something’s over, you’re waiting for something else to show up.  There it is — doubt.

Doubt that it will (or won’t) and if it does that I’ll have the chops to finish or see it through.  Sometimes the waiting part isn’t that long, other times it is.  It’s between the waiting and the getting that the doubt shows up and rears its head with a voice that says, “Now what? Who do you think you are?”

Internal Voices/Self-Talk

I think we all have that inner voice — sometimes I don’t think we’re even aware of it.  There are times when we feel like we can do anything and others when we feel (at least I do) where we can’t.  I guess my whole life I gravitated toward writing, in some capacity.  Even when I had a “real job,” I would devote much of my time to writing.  Business, creative, concepts, ideas.  I’d constantly come up with ways in which I could improve and show off my writerly skills.

When I was kind of forced into free-lancing, I started out with a bang.  I got lucky and was in the right place at the right time and had plenty of work.  Then that work died down and something else took its place.  That’s usually how it works — this kind of thing, you’re either slammed or you have plenty of time on your hands to question whether what you’re doing is what you’re supposed to be doing.


As a teenager, I wanted to be a writer.  A novelist.  I thought the best way to do that was to get a degree in English.  I told an older relative that one day and he said, “Well, what are you going to do with that?  Why would you want to get a degree in English?

He didn’t mean anything by it.  It was off the cuff.  He didn’t understand who I was or the whys of why that mattered so much to me.  But the phrase stuck — did something to me and I began to doubt myself.  Question if it was a good idea to get a degree in English.  I began to think of ALL the great writers out there and talked myself into believing that I’d never have a chance.  I still think that sometimes.  I instead got a scholarship to a college with a major in Nursing and I DID NOT want to be a nurse.  Everyone else thought I’d be great at it.  It was the doubting myself that swayed me into almost becoming what everyone else wanted me to be.

It didn’t happen obviously.  I made another choice and because of it eventually went back to school in my thirties to get a degree.  Not in English or writing.  In Marketing.  Anyway.

Go Away

I hope this post doesn’t come across as whining or complaining.  If so, my apologies.  It’s not meant to.  I’m the only person who can tell that inner monologue to shut up.  Put up or shut up.  Or find a different dream and figure out how to move through life differently.

So when that voice says to me, “Who do you think you are?  You’re in a place where some of the best creative people are, so how you expect to fit in?”  I am me and I guess that’s a pretty good start.  And during this “waiting” period, I can work on what I say I want, give it my all and tell that voice to go away.

You must do the thing you think you cannot do, said Eleanor Roosevelt.  I think she had something there.

What do you do when doubts start to threaten you and sabotage what you want to achieve?

And because it’s Monday and I’m trying to motivate, here’s a little slap-happy song about casting away doubts.  It’s goofy, but maybe it’ll make you smile (it did me).  Or you’ll be annoyed because it’ll get stuck in your head, I promise.


About Brigitte



50 thoughts on “Monday Musing and Motivations – Part Fourteen – Doubt

  1. There must be something in the air today, B. What’s up with that?

    People gave me grief for majoring in history. “History? You can’t do anything with that. Whaddaya gonna do, teach???” There’s always going to be someone who comments about whatever choice you make.

    I frequently doubt myself too. It can be paralyzing. “Who do you think you are, trying to write a biography? What makes you think you’ve got the right stuff for that?” So I know what you mean.

    I haven’t found a way to shut out the doubts for good, but I just try to remember that they come and go. And I guess ol’ Eleanor had the right idea. Do it anyway, even if you fear it.

    Hugs to you!

    Posted by Madame Weebles | July 16, 2012, 12:44 pm
  2. Oh doubt, that em-effer. I have it, I know it. Sometimes I just have to slog through it and get to the other side. Sometimes I find a good night’s sleep does wonders. Sometimes I get sad and wait until it passes. You know that piece I wrote on 1Flesh? I got bored one day and posted it on their FB page. Der. Stupid! Days and days later I’m still disputing their comments. At one point I thought, “maybe I’m wrong and this no contraception thing is OK” and “maybe all my research was wrong”. It’s so easy for me to forget the passion I had the day I wrote the piece because of all the negative comments I’ve received from them. It’s been a real test of what I think of my own thoughts and my own writing. I still don’t have any answers about how to defeat the doubt, but at least I’m surviving it thus far.

    Posted by Fish Out of Water | July 16, 2012, 12:45 pm
    • Hey Fish! You should think of it this way — your writing that post sparked alot of conversation. Good and bad and that’s ALWAYS a good thing. It means that you’ve given someone something to ponder, think about. Forget the negative and focus on the positive — when you figure out how to do that, please let me know. Thanks so much, you.

      Posted by Brigitte | July 16, 2012, 12:55 pm
  3. It’s amazing how something someone said to us years ago stays in our minds and still carries weight (as your relative who asked why you’d want to get an English degree). Doubts will always be there. One has to take each day as it comes and listen to one’s gut. It will usually tell you whether something is right or not, even if you don’t want to listen.

    Posted by Carrie Rubin | July 16, 2012, 12:52 pm
    • Wise words, Carrie and thank you. Isn’t it weird how one comment stays with you? Why?? What about the other comments. It’s a mystery as to why. Listening to your gut and deciphering it from that inner dialogue is the tricky part.

      Posted by Brigitte | July 16, 2012, 12:57 pm
  4. Hiiiiiiiiigh Hopes! Well, there could be worse songs to get stuck in your head.

    Bridgette, I’m GLAD you don’t have a degree in English and that you got it in something else. I’m not dissing on English as a major (I have a minor in it), but the purpose of education is to foster development. I truly believe that you have arrived at the same place you would have with an English degree. In fact, it sounds to me like you’ve been working on your English major (non-degree) for as long as you can remember.

    Posted by Smaktakula | July 16, 2012, 1:04 pm
    • Hey Smak! Frank can croon, can’t he? You’ve just made me feel all better and I so thank you for that — what a good blogger friend you are giving me so much warm fuzzy. Thank you, thank you. 🙂

      Posted by Brigitte | July 16, 2012, 1:07 pm
      • You’re very welcome–and thanks for taking me seriously (as I intended it). One consequence of being irreverent, sarcastic and sometimes deliberately misleading (but always in a good way) on my own blog, is that I’m sometimes unsure of how my comments in other places are taken–as if I’m always (as opposed to mostly) being an ass. Or even worse, glib and insincere.

        This “sincerity insecurity” is probably exacerbated a little bit by your East Coast-ness. Through years of work in sales as well as for other reasons, I’ve had many telephone business conversations with people from the East Coast. For whatever reason, my manner of speech (which is pretty similar to my writing style, but maybe without quite as many swears), often seems to give people in the Northeast (I said EC earlier, but that was probably too vague) the impression of slick insincerity. Curiously, this doesn’t happen in face-to-face meetings. In most places, people are pretty receptive to it (and even as a salesman, it wasn’t an act; I like people), but not NY, NJ and New England (although in many cases I was able to forge relationships over time). I’ve also experienced this phenomenon a little in Europe. I’m not sure why some people mistrust the friendly and happy, but as you can see, I’m a wee bit insecure about it! I plan to post about one of these experiences, which ironically, will probably be shorter than this bloated paragraph.

        Thanks for your patience!

        Posted by Smaktakula | July 16, 2012, 7:52 pm
      • I usually can tell when someone’s being sincere or not so thank you. I’ve never thought your comments were glib or insincere. I can see your point and I think it depends on the individual — maybe not so much of what coast they’re on, but that’s just been my experience. I’m not originally from NY, but I’ve met some nice, sincere people here as well. I respond to friendly and happy. I guess we all have our own insecurities based on perception. I look forward to this post — East Coast/West Coast or wherever, I think most everyone’s the same — they want respect and to know that what they have to say is important. Thanks so much, Smak — your comments are always enlightening — and I’m not at all being glib or insincere. 🙂

        Posted by Brigitte | July 17, 2012, 8:45 am
  5. Thanks Brigitte, now I’ve got that song stuck in my head. I guess it’s better than having lots of negative messages rolling around in there?

    It’s really hard to put blinders on and keep your eyes on the prize, whatever that may be. It’s difficult to block out the noise from other people / society telling you where you should be in life and what you should be doing, etc. The people that have the hardest time, bouts of depression and anxiety, use an external measuring stick.

    It takes a very strong person with a healthy ego to block everything and move forward listening to only the small still voice inside you. That little voice, I believe, is your spirit and it’s uniquely yours. I say listen to it at all costs because it will never steer you wrong or betray you – don’t question it, even if it tells you to lay low for a while.

    Apparently when Leonardo Di Vinci was dying he was overheard apologizing in prayer to God for failing him and not living up to his potential. Can you imagine? He obviously knew who he was and had a deep sense of what was expected of him. I don’t think about that story to highlight the fact that I’m a total loser in comparison to Leonardo Di Vinci, rather, I look at that and remind myself that we each have gifts and great potential. We just need to quite ourselves sometimes and let ourselves be who we’re meant to be.

    Once again, another rambler which may or may not pertain to anything you wrote in your post! Oy.

    Posted by A Gripping Life | July 16, 2012, 1:09 pm
    • Grippy, thank you! You always have some wise advice and it’s always appreciated! I think it’s human nature to doubt, the most difficult part is as you’ve so elegantly stated is to block out all the noise. Some days are easier than others and at times, that little voice (I know the one you refer to) is drowned out by that other stuff. I didn’t know that about da Vinci — wow. Thanks, friend for the your comment and it does pertain. :). (sorry about the song, btw).

      Posted by Brigitte | July 16, 2012, 1:18 pm
      • : ) It’s a good song – no worries. Also, sorry if I come off as Miss advice giver. Never my intention. It’s hard for me not to put my therapist hat on. I’ve been “helping” people for 25 years so it just sort of spills out. I feel ya! The only reason I can speak on this is because I too am in this funk much of the time. It’s hard to keep a proper perspective.

        Posted by A Gripping Life | July 16, 2012, 1:40 pm
      • You don’t sound “Miss Advice Giver” at all. I love your comments! I like when you put your therapist hat on, Grippy! It’s great and always welcome — your perspective. I mean that!

        Posted by Brigitte | July 16, 2012, 1:45 pm
    • Dear Gripping,
      Thank you for that story about Di Vinci.
      I will share that one.

      Posted by Carr Party of Five | July 17, 2012, 7:48 am
      • Your welcome! I always think about that and it does make me feel like we have “work” to do while we’re here – as if we’ve been commissioned from on high. Who knows what part we play in the scheme of things but I feel strongly that we each DEFINITELY have a part.

        Posted by A Gripping Life | July 17, 2012, 8:12 am
  6. I have a BA in English…started out as a Marketing Major and could not do it. I loved every second of my English classes…I ended up in the Health Care services for 13 years before being a librarian. In August I start graduate school. I am doubting myself every second of every day for this and for the job I do everyday. The doubt drives me some days and suffocates me on others. I am in a state of denial right now. I am so glad that I have stumbled upon all you fine ladies and am reaping the benefits of your wise and funny written words. I think fear more than doubt motivates us… but maybe it is the doubting that feeds the fear? and the fear feeds the courage? I am woman hear me roar? rambling ubs better stop it here
    Either way you are thought provoking as always and I love the song 🙂

    Posted by unfetteredbs | July 16, 2012, 1:18 pm
    • Audra, this comment somehow ended up in my spam comments!! Why??? This was the thoughtful response you were referring to. Thank you. I so commend you for starting graduate school in August! I am contemplating this myself. I seriously think I could go to school my whole life if I could afford to. I understand everything you mean here and agree with you. You are thought-provoking as well, friend and I’m so glad I “stumbled” across all you ladies as well. I so look forward to our exchanges and I’m glad I found this wonderful comment you made days ago. :).

      Posted by Brigitte | July 19, 2012, 4:05 pm
  7. Definitely something in the air today Brigitte. I was asking myself “what am I supposed to be doing?” this morning. Feeling a little flat, I enrolled myself in a ten week creative writing course more to meet like minded people in my new hometown. My “voice” keeps saying, they’ll find out you don’t know the rules of writing – so it’s a bit scary really and I have to wait until September as the summer hols are upon us! The Artists Way arrived on my doorstep this morning so hopefully answers will come. The author Julia Cameron calls that voice “the Censor”. No whinning or complaining from you just another inspiring post as always. 🙂

    Posted by floatingwiththebreeze | July 16, 2012, 1:41 pm
    • Hi Teresa…there seems to be something going around. Good luck with the class — they can be inspiring! You are the second or third person I’ve “met” that has mentioned that book. I must get it. Thank you so much for your kind words and hope you listen to the good voice (not the ones that create doubt). :).

      Posted by Brigitte | July 16, 2012, 1:47 pm
  8. Brig, I love this. I think of you and your freelancing regularly b/c I know I have to get out of this job where I am horribly underemployed but it served its purpose and got me back into the workforce after many years of housewifery. You are a great writer but I understand the doubt. When I was a career gal before kids, I would regularly think, “what if they figure out that I have no idea what I’m doing?”

    I think only those who are not bright enough to doubt rest on their laurels. There are so many bright, talented people who are always restless and perhaps doubtful but always looking for the next thing.

    Thank you for speaking for all of us!!!

    Posted by Maggie O'C | July 16, 2012, 1:57 pm
    • Hey Maggie — thank you! I know exactly what you mean. Why do we intelligent women do this to ourselves??? And speaking of writing, you too have a gift (and I think you know that). Thank you so much for your kind words and it’s nice that we can relate and give each other some props, don’t you think? And you’re welcome — your posts resonate with me as well. Nice to see you back, btw.

      Posted by Brigitte | July 16, 2012, 2:07 pm
  9. I had typed up a long thoughtful response.. but I have no idea where the hell it went! so I am going to wimp out and say I double ditto what Maggie O said.
    I think i am losing my mind.. where did that comment go(scratching my head)

    Posted by unfetteredbs | July 16, 2012, 2:09 pm
    • There’s something going around, A. I have written fabulous comments before and I hit the freakin’ button and it just goes away!!! I don’t know why, but thank you so much — you’re always thoughtful. And the losing your mind part, yeah, I get it. :).

      Posted by Brigitte | July 16, 2012, 2:11 pm
      • well carry on Dear Brigitte… doubt drives the fear in us and fear drives the courage to fight for what lies deep within us..

        Posted by unfetteredbs | July 16, 2012, 2:12 pm
  10. These feelings are circulating in the blogosphere recently. I think there’s something about the time of year. It’s good not to feel alone about feeling this way, but if anyone finds a good way out of it, I hope they share!

    Posted by jmmcdowell | July 16, 2012, 4:03 pm
  11. i think it’s the vag that makes us do this. it’s not that guys don’t feel this way. but, there’s something about the man-pole that makes men go, “i’m amazing” and there’s something about our coin purses that make us go, “sh*t, i’m not so sure, something is off.” i swear to you, this is my current theory. i’m going to write a piece about it and try to get my vag to shut up. not easy to do, let me tell you! oh, wait, you already know. lol.

    Posted by sweetmother | July 16, 2012, 5:39 pm
    • You are exactly right! That’s it!!! What is the mystery? Maybe we should all write a post about this — we of the vag persuasion — kind of like monologue. Wait, someone else already thought of that. But not on the blogosphere, right? We must pursue this, SM. Thanks for your wise, wise words. (Coin purses — I am cracking up.) LOL.

      Posted by Brigitte | July 16, 2012, 6:25 pm
  12. Happy Monday to you too! That little voice gets to all of us I think…but hey, one always come back to this is what I love and damn it I’m good at it. A little doubt keeps me from become cocky I think. Anyway, you’re a good writer, keep at it!

    Posted by dianasschwenk | July 16, 2012, 7:04 pm
  13. Brigitte, dear friend, it’s not the small voice (your ego) you need to listen to, it’s the small still voice (Self expressing through you) that always steers you straight. When my daughter was little, I’d tell her to thank her ego for all its hard work and tell it that, thanks to all its had work, a vacation was in order…Barbados, maybe! The ego will chatter at you until you acknowledge you’ve heard it, it needs validation just like anything else. So, acknowledge its hard work and send it on vacation, then sit and listen for your small still voice to guide you. At first it may be hard to hear; with practice, however, it gets clearer and easier to hear.

    You are a wonderful writer, dear one, and you don’t need a degree to tell you that. You have people stopping by to check out what you’ve written every day. That’s validation! xoxoM

    Posted by Margarita | July 16, 2012, 9:40 pm
    • You’re so right, Margarita. It is that ego that gets in the way sometimes. It’s clearing away all that clutter and listening to that small, still voice you are referring to that is the most difficult. As always, you put it so eloquently and I so appreciate your insight.

      Posted by Brigitte | July 17, 2012, 8:46 am
      • Yes, listening is a practice. For now, remember that your small voice is ego and chattering, no need to listen to THAT! xoM

        Posted by Margarita | July 17, 2012, 8:55 am
  14. This song cracks me up and takes me back to middle school chorus. I know what you mean though, because I feel I’m at a turnpoint. My degrees are sort of wasted at this point, and I work in Information Technology, which is an okay job, but stressful and not really satisfying. I think it’s time for a change! I have high apple-pie-in-the-sky hopes! 🙂

    Posted by SzaboInSlowMo | July 16, 2012, 10:02 pm
    • I know, it’s corny, but still makes me smile too. I think any learning isn’t wasted…we usually find we can draw from that experience at some point. Here’s to your high hopes and sometimes change is the best thing we can give ourselves. Thanks so much, Szabo. :).

      Posted by Brigitte | July 17, 2012, 8:48 am
  15. I always read your Monday Musings on Tuesday, since I’m about 12+ hours ahead of you, time zone-wise but that just makes my Tuesday even better! Oh wait, that wasn’t what I was going to say…..

    Right, we’re talking about doubt! Man, doubt and I go way back. Like practically the day after I was born. As a kid, I was riddled with self-doubt and in combination with this natural self-consciousness I had (early tendencies of perfectionism I think), I never thought I was good enough. Fast forward many years later, and I think I’ve managed to get the doubt-man under control. He still pops up from time to time but when I ask myself if I’d rather do something else when I’m starting to doubt something I’ve done, doubt-man quickly gets silenced. I think it all comes down to whether you’re doing something you really enjoy and forget about what the results are going to be. Chances are, if we’re passionate about something, we’re more likely to be good at or get good at it. 🙂

    Posted by lillianccc | July 16, 2012, 11:03 pm
    • Hi Lillian, that’s so nice and I’m glad you read them. Hope they help you some because they do me when I write them. As a fellow perfectionist, I know what you’re talking about and learning that there is no such thing as perfect — once you’re there, where is there to go, right? And you’re right, letting go of the outcome is the best way to enjoy what you’re doing. Our interests are ever-evolving so it’s best to just kind of go with the flow (hard for perfectionists, I think!) and life usually gets us to where we are supposed to be. Thank you, Lillian.

      Posted by Brigitte | July 17, 2012, 8:51 am
  16. It took me twenty years after getting my degree in English Literature to be able to acknowledge myself as a writer. There’s nothing worse than four years of literary criticism and mile-high stacks of “good literature” to convince a person that she is not author material. (And I loved those four years. I really did! But an English degree is not necessarily the right degree for an aspiring writer… Marketing might be perfect!)

    As you can tell, doubt has been my constant companion.

    Posted by Sally at Shine | July 16, 2012, 11:25 pm
    • Hi Sally, I guess we all suffer from that and those who don’t appear to maybe are much better at covering that. I’ve always been an open book and maybe that’s not the “right way” either. It’s nice to know that others feel that same thing sometimes. It’s just getting through and remembering that when it shows up, acknowledge it and get on with it. Criticism is hard to take sometimes, but often our best teacher. Thank you!!

      Posted by Brigitte | July 17, 2012, 8:54 am
  17. Dear B,
    I once overheard something that has always stuck with me.
    A woman was being asked to lead up something. I couldn’t tell what it was.
    She didn’t think she should do it. Not good enough to do it.
    Her friend said, “And that’s exactly why YOU should be doing it. It’s those that don’t think they are perfect, that are smart enough to doubt themselves a little…that SHOULD be doing it.”
    It’s always stuck with me.
    I think I was meant to hear that.
    No accidents.
    Thank you for sharing your innermost thoughts.
    As a wanna be writer, it helps me so much.
    Love, L

    Posted by Carr Party of Five | July 17, 2012, 7:52 am
    • Hey Lis, love that story!! Thanks for that. I’m far from perfect, but if I ever did reach perfection, there’d be no where to go and where’s the fun with that? And you’re very welcome — glad it resonated with you a bit. :).

      Posted by Brigitte | July 17, 2012, 8:57 am
  18. Morning, Brigitte.
    I’ve been reading Jonah Lehrer’s book Imagine about the science believed and reported to be behind the creative mind. I’m always a little skeptical of medical reports, especially if there is a profit to be made from the conclusion of those reports, but? Having that disclaimer out of the way, here is my point (FINALLY): self-doubt seems to be a natural part of the creative process, a cog in the mechanism, a kink in the tangled chain…fill in your analogy here. I haven’t finished the book, only scratched the surface really, but if I never get past page 6 and 7 that’s OK because that’s where I found these quotes, “Before we can find the answer – before we probably even know the question – we must be immersed in disappointment, convinced that a solution is beyond our reach. We need to have wrestled with the problem and lost.” or “the first stage is the impasse: Before there can be a breakthrough, there has to be a block.”
    Emphasis on the BEFORE, indicating that there will be an after…
    Good Tuesday morning, Nikki

    Posted by i mayfly | July 17, 2012, 9:38 am
    • Hey Nikki! I LOVE YOUR REPLY!!!! Now, I have got to get this book, but what you’ve said makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it. Thank you, dear friend for giving me a new way of looking at doubt. This is wonderful and good Tuesday (afternoon) to you. 😀

      Posted by Brigitte | July 17, 2012, 12:17 pm
  19. Brigitte,
    Oh!! A black and white song! How swell!! Thank you.
    Le Clown

    Posted by clownonfire | July 17, 2012, 11:48 am
    • I have no idea what that means. It was a joke, a funny ha-ha. But hey, swell will do just as well. Thanks, LC. 😀

      Posted by Brigitte | July 17, 2012, 12:05 pm
      • Brigitte,
        I thought it was a clever joke about a song from the black and white era of le 7e Art! But obviously, I failed miserably.
        Le Clown

        Posted by clownonfire | July 17, 2012, 12:06 pm
      • Say what?? Oh, I get it. I’m not as quick on my feet as you, Le Clown, hence your brilliance. I am humbled. My head hurts that must be why I didn’t get your joke. Sorry you had to explain, but again, that’s why you are Le Clown and I am not. :).

        Posted by Brigitte | July 17, 2012, 12:11 pm
      • Brigitte,
        I am striking every word from your reply, except “brilliant” and “Brigitte”. Don’t even argue.
        Le Clown

        Posted by clownonfire | July 17, 2012, 12:13 pm

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