On Feeling “Not Good Enough”

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It felt both scary and wonderful to get my first full salary from my new client at the end of last month. Why scary? Well, I’ve never earned so much money in one month before. But most of all, I felt like a fraud. Like I didn’t deserve it.

I know that’s not the truth. I worked hard and did well. At our month-end meeting my client had nothing but good things to say about my work. But still, those thoughts of “I’m not good enough” and the accompanying feeling of panic that I don’t really know what I’m doing and will be exposed, kept raising it’s head.

Imposter syndrome? Perhaps. The thing is, I’m used to doing things for next to nothing. To give in when someone can’t pay me for doing something, or charging them a price that didn’t take much of my effort and time into consideration. This caused me so much anxiety and stress. I was doing too much for others with little in return and becoming burnt out. A lot of it I would use as an excuse “it’s good for my portfolio or for practice”. Sure, that’s valid, but not to the extent I was taking it. Now that I’m charging more I feel guilty for it.

My therapist had to listen to me complain about these things and saw how it was affecting me. She helped me get to the place where I realized that way of doing things wasn’t working for me, and wasn’t worth it, and I could start putting proper boundaries in place. It’s still hard to stand firm, especially with friends and family, but I’m doing it.

This client is the ideal client for me. He’s honest, to the point, and doesn’t rush me. I’ve already learned so many new things and am becoming more confident, but I still get my days where I feel “not good enough”. One thing I really appreciate about him is that he will often send me a “good job!” or “well done”. So that helps tremendously.

Whenever I start experiencing those “not good enough” thoughts, and feelings of panic or fear, I try to remember to challenge them with more helpful thoughts. “I’ve come this far and I’m doing the best I can”. I also try to find moments where I can look at my work and say “I’m proud of myself, I did well”.

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The Not-So-Silver Lining: When Positive Thinking Backfires

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I follow a few different science and psychology channels on YouTube and wanted to share a video from one of them that I just watched on why positive thinking isn’t the absolute “be all” that it’s claimed to be. I’ve attached the video below, as well as the link to an article I wrote in 2016.

My blog post on this topic: “Just Be Positive”

So I wasn’t that far off the mark it seems. 😉

The Next Right Thing

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“I’m trusting that it’s okay to just keep doing the next right thing – even when the long-term plan isn’t quite clear. Enough right things will get me where I need to go.”

– Brené Brown

I didn’t know where my life was going. It all seemed so pointless and hopeless. I actually still experience this often, but lately I’m just allowing things to unfold as they do and dealing with what I can in each moment. Acceptance is often hard to achieve, but fighting against things we have no control over just exhausts us. Acceptance allows us to breathe, explore, and plan.

We don’t know the future. All we can do is keep taking the next best step, whatever that may be. I have to ask myself, “what’s the next right action for you?” It’s not about what other people say I should do. People can give us their opinions but they’re not living our lives. We are.

Circumstances Can Change

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Sometimes it feels as though things will never change. But life is a constant state of change. Nothing stays the same. It may for a while, and this while may feel like forever, but there’s no escaping the fact that at some point in time change will come.

This is where I currently find myself. A couple of months ago I was still living with my dad, working for him and getting paid peanuts, and working on my business with no real prospects. Life seemed pointless. Hopeless. I felt stuck. I’ve actually been in this “stuck” place for years, and didn’t see it ending anytime soon.

But then I moved in with my older friend M, and things started changing for me. In December I had met a potential client (in a restaurant where I was talking to a friend and he overheard me talking about my business), and he told me that he was looking for a freelance graphic designer and social media manager. He gave me his details and asked me to contact him in February, which I did. I started working with him beginning April, and it’s been great. It’s a lot of work, but it’s work I enjoy, and he’s a wonderful client. Easy to talk to, open and transparent, and most importantly, quick to respond and get information from. We have a 3 month contract for now, but he told me that he wants to make it more permanent. We had our first end of month progress/update meeting and he’s very happy with my work, so it’s all looking very promising.

As regular readers of my blog know, I found it very stressful and frustrating working for my dad. Just being around him and my step-mom in the office affects me negatively. Add in all the other things going on in the shop and it’s just too much for me. With this new client, I get 3x my salary, so I’m much better off. Their business is still struggling, so that, along with this new job, made me decide to give my week’s notice. They can save the money they pay me every month (at least for the next two months), and I’m free to focus on my own business. I’m far more productive and relaxed working from home. I also have two more potential website design clients, so that will be additional income if all goes well.

I thought I’d never “escape” my dad, but now I only see him if and when I want to. I actually feel like an adult. Free. Staying with M is really great and we get along perfectly. She’s become a real mother figure to me and I’m learning a lot from her. Therapy is also going well, especially now that we’ve switched from weekly 30-minute sessions to 1-hour sessions. My therapist pointed out that I wasn’t doing so well with 30-minute sessions. When I had my sessions at her office in the clinic we’d often run well over, but when we switched to her other location a couple of months ago, time was more limited. And that’s when it became obvious that I was struggling with only 30 minutes. So now we’re on weekly 1-hour sessions and things feel more settled. We’ve also gone back to having it at the clinic as the way there is less stressful and overwhelming for me. My stress and anxiety levels have decreased and my mood has been better overall.

So, a lot has changed in such a short amount of time. I feel like I’m still adjusting to all the changes, and certain things are still overwhelming and anxiety-provoking, but it’s slowly getting better. At the beginning of this year I never imagined I would be here. That life would look different. But it does, and I’m so grateful. To M, for taking me in and showing me that I am worthy of life and love. To my therapist, for always having my best interests at heart and for all that she does to help me.

Circumstances can change. It’s so easy for those of us who are so used to constant disappointment to wonder when things will blow up again, waiting for the other shoe to drop (this saying doesn’t make much sense, but I’m using it anyway), but I’m determined to just embrace how things are in the here and now. Because right now, I’m happy.

She’s Back…

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On Monday after work I met up with my ex, Elizabeth. During one of my “episodes” a little while ago, I impulsively sent her a message. I wasn’t expecting a reply, and wasn’t even sure whether I wanted one. But a couple of days later she sent a reply and I was genuinely shocked when she told me that my message was a wonderful surprise. We sent some messages back and forth for a few weeks. We were supposed to meet up the weekend, but I took a rain check and we met on Monday instead.

I didn’t know what to expect going in. I kept an emotional distance and was prepared to leave as soon as I felt things weren’t going well. But that didn’t happen. Instead, I found that I was having a nice time catching up with her. Even more unexpected were the genuine apologies for her behaviour in our relationship, and acknowledgement that a lot of the issues came from her side. She had started therapy some time after we had broken up and been diagnosed with ADHD which made so much sense and put a lot into perspective when looking back.

We ended up spending that whole afternoon together and I only got home just after 11 that evening. We were having such a good time, and the alcohol kept coming (with both of us being on meds, we discussed that this can’t happen again). It felt so comfortable and familiar being with her. We sat intimately close, closer than I’ll allow anyone else to sit next to me when talking. And when we walked to another place for another drink, I was freezing (alcohol has that effect on me, while it makes her hot) and she put her arm around me to help keep me warm. That felt amazing. She told me that she has been wanting to get back into contact with me for so long, but thought I was angry with her and never wanted to see her again. That she had missed me so often, and how glad she was that we can be friends now.

I discovered that my feelings for her haven’t changed all that much, but I also have my guard up. My therapist told me to keep my boundaries in mind whenever I’m with her. Only thing is, I’m not so sure what my boundaries for her are, or should be. She invited me to two events this weekend, but I’ve got a nasty cold and need to rest and recuperate. But, if I’m completely honest, I’m also using that as an excuse to keep some distance from her so I don’t get swept up, and giving myself time to figure out exactly how I feel about all of this. All I know right now is that I was happier during the time I spent with her on Monday than I have been in months. I realized this after she told me the same thing. Right now I’m a little confused, but I guess that’s normal.

Maybe we can be friends after all. Do I want more? I don’t have to know the answer or make any decisions right now.

The best thing I feel I can do in this situation is take things slow and at my own pace, and see what happens.

You are good enough.

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I don’t usually reblog anything, but had the desire to do so with this amazing post. This is something I needed to read and I know a lot of people need to be reminded of these simple truths.

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Don’t let this world make you bitter.  Don’t let the actions of other people turn you cold inside.  Things happen that hurt us, people come that leave us, and you are going to fall.  Don’t let these things change you.  Don’t let them make you unkind.  It’s okay to feel how ever you feel.  But it’s never okay to let the actions of other change who you are.  Even if it seems like there is no good left in the world, continue to be that little bit of good that brings hope.  Things of value require sacrifice.  Don’t let anyone invalidate or minimize how you feel.  If you feel something, you feel it and to you it’s real.  Nothing anyone says has the power to invalidate that.  No one else lives in your body.  No one else sees life through your eyes.  No one else have lived through your experiences. …

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Change, Life, Work

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I want to start blogging more regularly again. I’ve been going through some lengthy sort of phase where I think that my blog has become boring (for others) and I feel kind of narcissistic writing about myself all the time. Why I feel that way now, and why it didn’t bother me all that much before, I don’t know. But writing here has been so helpful to me in the past and I want to have that back, so I should at least try again.

I’ve been staying with M for the past week, and it’s been good for me I think. That intense hopelessness that’s been hanging around for so long has somewhat lifted. It only shows up for a few minutes before disappearing, which is a welcome relief from the persistent version. I haven’t quite got my new routine right (my working hours have also changed) which causes anxiety, but I’m getting there. Once again I’ve realized how strongly change affects me. Even good change. That’s where well-established systems and rituals that are time and place independent really help to make things a little easier.

This has been a busy and overwhelming week work wise. So it was a huge relief on Friday evening when I could finally cross that difficult client off my list. He settled the final payment, job done. Another positive, I had a meeting with a potential client on Monday and received the go ahead and deposit on Friday. So even though it’s been stressful and there were lots of crap moments, over all it’s been a good week.

I’m going to be staying with M for a while, just not sure exactly how long. She suggested a few months, but my therapist knows me well and said I should start with two weeks, see how I feel, and take it from there. So that’s what I’m going to be doing.

Since yesterday, there’s been so much confusion in my mind and many different emotions all vying for attention, that I feel physically sick. Focusing on anything for longer than a couple of minutes is hard. I see it’s taken me half an hour to actually write this. I feel like a computer. My mind keeps going into sleep mode, then booting back up and continuing right where it left off. And this is where I’ll end tonight. Sleep sounds so good right now.