Moving beyond self-doubt

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I am a thinker. An over-analyzer. It keeps me from doing a lot of things I could or even should be doing (meeting friends, meeting deadlines). This is why I decided that my word of the year 2014 would be ‘yes!’, as in, to say ‘yes’ to things more often rather than thinking in my regular ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’.

If the past month of doing so made me realize anything, it’s that doing the things I would normally dodge or cancel actually makes me feel a lot better. It’s the breaking out of my comfort zone (which, ironically, isn’t all that comfortable to start with) that creates moments that are completely worthwhile. Setting aside my doubts, anxiety and mostly my insecurity creates a space of actually ‘living’ rather than just thinking about living.

What usually kept (or, still keeps) me from going ahead and doing those things is my insecurity. As someone who overthinks everything, I create a lot of obstacles in my head that block options. Whereas someone else might experience that as difficult, for me it can feel paralyzing. Instead of breaking out, I close off to the possibilities and lock myself in self-doubt.

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Over-analysers often tend to be perfectionists as well. If we didn’t care so much about how things turned out, we wouldn’t give them so much thinking time. It’s this perfectionism that often keeps me from socializing. When I don’t feel like I’m in ‘a good place right now’, I’d rather not meet up with friends. I want them to experience my happy me, rather than weighing them down with my less-happy me. A friend of mine confronted me with this recently, by asking me what I’d do if he told me the same thing. What if he told me he wasn’t in his happy place, and that’s why he didn’t want to see me. Would I be okay with that, or would it make me want to see him even more, to help move past the negativity?

Ummm, d’oh! I’d book the first train ticket to come see him!

So why is it that I react so differently when it concerns me? Why do I not allow others to help me move past that negativity? They do not even have to know they are it; I know from experience that going ahead and saying ‘yes’ to things that make me háve to break out of my self-doubt and step into ‘real life’ are already enough to break out of the negative space.

I know everybody goes through hard times. I know nobody feels perfect all the time.

It is extremely silly to accept that as a ‘no problem!’-thing from others, yet allowing it become the main reason to lock myself away from enjoying life and all the amazing people in it when it concerns myself.

If I do not expect others to be 100% happy all the time, why do I expect myself to be so? And how did I let that translate into the silly notion that others expect that of me as well?

The thing is: they don’t. Nobody (well, except myself) expects me to be 100% perfect. Ever. Because, deep down, we all know better than that. We all know that nobody ever is. Realizing this is one thing. Acting on it is another. Moving past that self-doubt, those insecurities and that self-made pressure is not easy, but so far, it’s been worth it. Saying ‘yes’ to things has opened so many opportunities not just for fun things, but also for deeper connection. But more on that next time.

One thing I’d like to share now, though, is a realization I had: My paralyzing over-analysing is not a ‘given fact’. Yes, it is part of me, a big part of me, even. But, it’s not like I cannot work on it and go against it, if I put in the effort to do so. Being aware of this habit is the first step into moving past it. It’s not like I broke the habit and changed my persona in the past month, nor do I expect I ever will. But I did realize that, even though it might be my first response to let myself overthink and freeze up, I can decide to make a different choice and go against that initial response. And that is quite a liberating realization!

2014: A word (Monday Motivations)

Like last year, I had a word with the new year. Or maybe this time, I had a word with myself.

The post published last, was one I wrote when I was still in my Asian bliss. When I was still ín Asia even, to be exact. But after coming home, as always, there was the post-travel blues. The cold weather, Uni stress, deadlines, moving into a new place, the big city life, loneliness, the Dutch weather and the general post-holiday blues combined got to me, as was to be expected. So, it was time to have a word.

First, let’s zapp back a year. Last year I debated between the words ‘balance’ and ‘authenticity’, concluding that they were intertwined. As my word for the year I chose ‘balance’, as it would help me with my path to grounding in authenticity as well. Now I must admit, I did not think of my word very often. All the more ironic that, looking back, 2013 was indeed for a large part about finding my balance and finding myself again. And, dare I say, I think I came quite a long way in the search.

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Now here is 2014, and like last year, there are two words that made an appearance to me in one form or another. They are thus the two words for me to choose from. One is ‘senang’, and the other is ‘catching up’ (ok, ok… That’s not one word, but you will survive that little detail, right?)

The former word probably needs some translating for you, as it is an Indonesian word. ‘Senang’ has been a word close to my heart for almost ten years. I can’t think of a precise translation, but it means something alone the lines of ‘at peace’, ‘tranquil’ and ‘happy’. In difficult days, I would write and draw all over my body as a form of coping and simultaneously ‘letting it out’. The word ‘senang’ made a regular appearance on my skin.

‘Catching up’ is a more difficult term for me to introduce, as it comes with a lot of heart ache. Now that I’m getting older (oh hey, I forgot to mention; I turned 25 almost three months ago!) I realize more and more of how much I missed out on in life. There’s over two years of devotion to addiction and recovery, but that is just the start. Before all of that visible chaos, there was chaos deep down for years already. I have always been a terribly insecure girl, and this has kept me from so many things. Bubbly and happy on the outside, I was in fact not even close to what a happy adolescent should be like. This leaves me in a very odd position at 25; ready to live life to its fullest, but so far behind on so many levels compared to everyone my age (including my own friends). I realize that on other levels, my history leaves me more mature than most of them combined. This does not, however, take away the fact that I lack a lot of ‘mundane’ (what’s in a name!) life experience. While it is hard to admit and even harder to make happen, I think it’s time I took a plunge and made up for the lost time. I do not plan on behaving like a 16-year old teenager, but it does mean I should start trying scary things that might be so seemingly irrelevant to most others. I must admit, this is scary shit.

‘Senang’, being about tranquillity, seems to be impossibly integrated with ‘catching up’, which is about pushing boundaries. But maybe that’s how an adult should make up for lost years; instead of going wild, doing it in a more peaceful fashion. However, like ‘authenticity’ last year, I think ‘senang’ should go on my long-term list. Both are not things to aim for or achieve within a fixed year time frame. They will come with time and dedication, and I will give them that whatever the year is.

Which means, this year will be a scary one.

Catching up is incredibly intimidating, not just because it requires me to break out of comfort zones, but more so because it requires me to admit (to myself and others) that there are so many things to catch up in.

That is hella confronting stuff. Plus, I am the thinking-kind, not the taking-action-kind; more of a nay-sayer than I’d like to admit. 2014 will be the year to change this. Yay-saying, actively venturing out into the big scary-people-world and making new connections.

2014, bring it on.

2013: A word (Monday Motivations)

“When you meet expectations, make sure to have a firm word with them”
(Own translation of a Loesje saying, again)

I decided to do the same with meeting a new year. 2013, to be exact. And I met 2013, like y’all did, almost 2 weeks ago already.

So I had a word with 2013. Or did 2013 have a word with me? Either way, we decided to give each other a shot. See if we’d hit it off, get along. Who knows, maybe there’s potential there?

I’ve always liked the idea of picking a word for the new year; one word to focus on. I don’t do resolutions all that well, mostly because I end up feeling like a total failure, even though (truthfully) I never réally try to make them happen anyway. Picking a word makes more sense, as a general guideline. A slow process, so to speak. (Though, honestly, I’ll probably not remember ‘my word’ most of the year. But, as you probably know by know, my motto is; ‘never try, never know’).

So here I go.

I debated picking my ‘one word’ for this year for three weeks now. And I still haven’t quite made up my mind. I’ve never been a champ in making choices, I’ll admit. I’ve been juggling two words; Balance and authenticity.

Kawah Ijen

Both seem like nice ‘goals’. Not just for this one year; since they are both words that are dear to me, therefore both are words I’d like to be part of me and my future in the greater sense of time. ‘Balance’ feels like what I long for most, to find my middle ground, my happy place. I am a very black/white type of girl, very much ‘all or nothing’. To be somewhat of a grey mouse, somewhat of a sterdy ‘rock’, seems like such a tranquil state of being. Easy living, so to speak. Not easy as in, without problems, but easy as in; mellow and soft. Like easy listening (“Soft and unobstrusive”). It seems like a good state of being to build upon. Which brings me to ‘authenticity’. I suppose this is a goal for every human being, it might even be the goal of life. To find your true self, your inner you. Especially for people who have had a rough time, who feel like they need to find themselves ‘back’, authenticity almost seems like a goal itself. But, just like balance, it’s not. Life is a journey, and we change along the way. Our authentic selves can do nothing but change along with us. Therefore, balances shift.

Authenticity seems so very closely linked to that word of ‘balance’, especially for me. Balance feels like how I want my life to feel like, from where I can find my authentic self. Balanced is also what I’d like my authentic me to be.

I think it’s clear though that both of these words are things I feel are lacking in my life, yet both are things I strongly long for. My other half recently wrote me (when I shared her my dilemma) the following: “authenticity leads to a greater balance”. She’s true. Ofcourse. She always is. But I think it’s a dual relationship; authenticity doesn’t just lead to greater balance, balance creates the tranquility to explore your ‘inner you’. Thus, balance can lead to a deeper sense of authenticity.

After this very tumultuous year (or, several years, really), I decided to pick ‘balance’ as my core focus for 2013. However, I do realize both are intrinsically, dually connected, and that both are not goals in themselves. They are not static endpoints. Rather, they are dynamic, never-ending processes. They evolve as we evolve, and we grow as they grow. And I am still growing

What are your goals/plans/resolutions/words for 2013?
                                                                  *Pictures are mine, please keep it that way

(A Pirate’s) Resolutions

Resolutions? I’m a bit late, as always. Story of my life. Maybe that should be a resolution as well, try to be on time more often! But I guess I’ll always live on ‘Tempo Doeloe’, or “Asian time”.They live with time and we live with the clock. Because, as long as  you’re having a good time, there’s no need for a clock, right?

But anyway, resolutions. I’ve got a few. I’m still working on my final list, though. But one of  ’em I’ve already started: Stop the bingeing. (“Stop bingeing, start dancing!” is what I wrote on my wall of inspirations..). Apparently it takes 21 days to develop a new habit/break an old habit. So, I gave myself the month of January to do it. Today is day two… And it already feels like weeks. Gosh, this is gonna be a long one…

Why now? Today, when I flipped to a new page of my awesome, inspiring calender, I realized that the Dutch word for January isn’t all that random. In Dutch “Ja” means ‘yes’, and “nu” means ‘now’. So yeah, what better time to start creating new (better) habits? Yes, now, Arrrrrr-y! ;)