I often struggle with confidence thanks to the insulting voices in my head. When I’m out in public with my husband I fear the world is saying, “Why is that hottie with that troll?” When I’m in social situations I constantly have voices in my head saying, “Oh my god. Quit being a freak. Why are you joking about your teen pregnancy at this fancy neighborhood meeting?” When I’m in professional situations I struggle with imposter syndrome and when I’m parenting my kids I plan the future paths every second in which they end up hating me for every decision I’ve ever made. I over analyze every interaction with every casual friend so that I can build my foundation around why they’re avoiding me or why they don’t like me.
Now. I 100% believe in the power of shutting those voices down and repeating mantras of self-love instead. This has helped me a lot in terms of learning to love my body, and truthfully? It keeps me from going back to the days of being scared to leave the house or being disconnected as a parent. These voices in my head have crippled me before and through positive self-talk and silencing the negativity, I have developed a very livable life with my insecurities at a hum instead of a roar.
But these last few weeks and ESPECIALLY the last several days? I’m having a crisis of confidence around my writing/content generation.
I think it started with writing something kinda personal and sharing it with a trustworthy loved one for their thoughts and – they either thought it was too personal and I shouldn’t share it and they didn’t want to tell me that…OR…they never finished reading it. AND I AM NOT SURE WHICH IS WORSE, honestly.
Or, maybe it started the day I posted some pictures from a historical graveyard on instagram and someone I casually know in “real” life suggested that was insensitive to the people with loved ones buried there.
Either way, now it seems like every voice that isn’t telling me…YOU ARE AMAZING, KEEP IT UP GIRL is telling me to go away forever. There is no middle ground. Anything besides flagrant flattery falls under: EVERYONE HATES ME I SHOULD NOT BE POSTING CONTENT ANYWHERE.
I’ve had some kinda hurtful responses to some of my Pro-Choice stuff this last week. It’s not the random rage of pro-lifers who don’t know me. Believer it or not, when you’ve been online for 15 years and have even a moderately stable audience, social platforms put your content out there on feeds and you get random hate from strangers. Last week I got included in a hate tweet with Ava Duvernay and I was actually kinda excited about that one!
No, random hate from strangers? I don’t get a lot of it but I’ve gotten enough of it over the years that it doesn’t even scratch beneath the surface of my skin anymore. Especially on Twitter. If you all knew how many strangers I muted for telling me to kill myself you’d be shocked.
These last few weeks it’s just the moderately (or severely in one case) critical voices of people I know who have made me doubt my voice. Some of them haven’t even been critical, if I really look at it deeply. Maybe they’ve just been…voices of other angles? Uggg. I don’t know. I just know that my brain is cataloging all of them now and they play on endless loops and they have shaken my confidence and right now? When I’m trying to write a memoir in the secrecy of my home? IS NOT THE TIME THAT I NEED MY CONFIDENCE IN VOICE SHATTERED.
At first it manifested in my over-analyzing everything I was going to post. A tweet about Alabama’s Abortion Ban? What if my Catholic aunt who I adore suddenly starts to hate me? A Facebook post about the latest episode of “Pod Save The People”? What if my childhood friend turned law enforcement starts arguing with me about their stance on policing? An instagram post with my daughter wearing her Obama hat? What if that family member criticizes me for brainwashing my kid?
Here’s the thing. I don’t want to defend myself to people who I know in real life and who I know have minds that won’t change. It’s a waste of energy. That’s why I keep my content to MY turf and don’t bring it to someone else’s. But lately people have felt emboldened maybe? To bring their comments to my turf and suddenly now I’m worried about those responses in everything.
I used to post about systemic racism and criminal justice all the time. I used to write about reproductive rights with confidence. I used talk about my atheism and my spiritual journey every chance I get. But now I have this arsenal of negative responses that I’ve gotten lately from REAL WORLD PEOPLE and they won’t leave my head and they have me doubting everything and just not posting things when I think of them.
And then this week? I started deleting stuff and that’s when I knew: THIS HAS GONE TOO FAR. I’m letting this crisis in confidence shake me so hard I’m deleting things I’ve written.
Now…there is nothing wrong with deleting things. But I’ve deleted like 6 posts in various formats (blog, facebook, twitter, instagram) in the last 5 days and that is why I suddenly felt like: THIS HAS ENTERED CRISIS MODE.
At first I thought, “Kim! You used to write your heart and not worry about what other people said!” But the problem is, it’s a lot easier to not worry about them when they stay quiet and they STOPPED STAYING QUIET. It hit me like a ton of bricks this weekend to wake up to negative reactions/responses from two people on the same section of my family who are not close in age or geography and who had never before reacted or commented to much of anything. I convinced myself that the entire section of that family has been talking about me and they both just HAD TO DO/SAY SOMETHING. Maybe it was just pure coincidence but either way – I have somehow given these people who NEVER INTERACT WITH MY LIFE AT ALL the power over my voice and y’all? I AM PISSED OFF AT MYSELF.
I need my confidence back. I want to actually finish AND PUBLISH the post I wrote about how systemic racism survives because we keep dehumanizing anyone with a criminal past. I want to write more about the beauty industry and why I think we need to revolt against age-shaming. I want to talk about where yoga has taken me on my spiritual journey and I want to talk about my anxieties about my upcoming travel. BUT I KEEP HEARING THESE VOICES INSIDE OF MY HEAD. My brain has taken those previous real responses and modified them all to fit everything even remotely personal or controversial that I want to write about.
HOW DO I GO BACK TO NO LONGER CARING? I don’t like that suddenly these people who don’t even really know me – have power over my voice. I don’t like that right when I’m trying to get my book of essays going that I’ve lost my confidence in my writing. I don’t like that I’m deleting things that I felt good about simply because the response weren’t all 100% positive. I don’t like that I now have this voice that says: SHUT IT ALL DOWN AND GET AN OFFICE JOB. YOU ARE NOT A WRITER.
It’s hard, y’all. I went back to therapy and I even felt my lack of confidence in there because I used to be SO GOOD AT THERAPY and suddenly I felt like I was found wanting. But that is (maybe?) another entry for another day.
I just wanted you all to know where I was at. I’m still bubbling over with topics and content like I am every day because my brain can’t let go of something until I’ve formulated into good content for public consumption…but none of that release is happening because my confidence is gone and so now it’s just like a shitshow in my brain.
Wait…now I have to go change the title of this post. And maybe the title of my book while I’m at it…