When Doubt Writes Your Story

I was in a constant fight with my belief system. “I can’t” became my natural mantra. “I am not … enough” became my lullaby as I struggled falling asleep night after night.

As an athlete, as a coach, as a daughter, sister and partner, doubt crept in like a green, scaly monster, just waiting for me to utter those words again so it could poke at me once more.

Confidence was not my strength when I was a young person. Even into my early twenties, confidence often betrayed me, ducking and sneaking around corners, leading me to believe it was there all along when I always came up empty. Fear turned into frustration, making me fear almost every big moment in my life.

I spent so much time wondering when my time would come. When would it be “my turn?” or “When would I be good enough to have the life I always hoped for?” And the second something would go wrong, I was back to convincing myself I didn’t deserve anything better.

This is the story written by so many. The conversations I have had with clients, athletes and non-athletes, young and old… they are all the same. Doubt is a major factor in so many moments that define us. And when it creeps in, we don’t think we have a chance to find anything else.

I spoke last week at the Pennsylvania Free Enterprise Week conference and was in front of over 800 students and advisors to share my message. I came away feeling good about the day. Yet, even driving home I was struck with some wonder… “Did I do what I was there to do, and did I affect a life in the room?” I kept telling myself I did to quiet my stirs and make my mind move on to the next thing…

And then last Saturday I was sitting in a restaurant when my email popped up. I don’t often jump to read email in the middle of dinner, but something compelled me to open it. It was from a young lady who served as an advisor that week and heard me speak. Her words lingered long after I closed my email and went on with dinner. In fact, that whole night and the next day I kept thinking about what she said.

And how she thanked me for affecting her life in the way I did.

It was simple. A beautiful moment she took to share with me how I had changed her life. Yet, for some reason this one really got to me. Perhaps it was because life has a funny way of making you question yourself in just the right moments. To dive in and make sure we are living on purpose. To ask one simple thing… and not expect an immediate answer…
Simply this: Am I living my truth– authentically and on purpose?
We all have our moments. Am I where I am “supposed” to be? Am I following my passions as much as I possibly can? Am I giving enough of me to the process? And when we have moments of doubt, the door is simply opened for us to explore.

As an athlete, doubt is usually a bad thing. And we try to fix it quickly. But what if we looked at doubt as just a question of what is real and what is what we perceive to be real? Because the truth is, what we perceive and create as our story isn’t always really what is in front of us. For years I told myself I couldn’t draw… that I wasn’t an artist. And whether you would classify my art as “good or bad” doesn’t really affect the truth. After all, opinion is just opinion. I CAN DRAW, just like I CAN dance and sing and write. It’s subjective really, isn’t it? How often do we classify our existence based upon emotion? Kind of like my discussion on failure. Good or bad, as human beings, we have attached emotion to all of it.

So we decide that this failure is good because we learned from it and we aren’t “good” dancers, so we stand on the wall and watch others have fun instead. Yet, if we understood how often our doubts handcuff our abilities to allow our lives to be in “flow,” we may just step away from the desire to be perfect.

Removing one word, one letter, changes everything.

I can’t becomes I can.

I am not enough becomes I am enough.

And doubt is something that becomes just a question, allowing us to re-evaluate and check in.

And then we move on to the next thing.

And the door is simply open for us to explore once again.

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