THE THING ABOUT CRIPPLING SELF-DOUBT

  1. That's right, I'm back, ready to spit out some more lists that aren't funny.
  2. Buckle up.
  3. •••
  4. I've always been a workaholic.
    My Myers-Briggs type (ESTP) is The Doer. I don't watch movies because I don't like sitting still. I am, and always have been, a stereotypical over-achiever.
  5. Whenever someone asks me what animal I think I would be, I say "A shark, because I legitimately believe I will die if I stop moving."
    They laugh, and say it's accurate, and then move on.
  6. I've never been able to move on.
  7. •••
  8. My motivations for always working look a bit like the suitcase you scramble to pack in an hour before your flight leaves. There is a lot of unnecessary excess, but upon unpacking some trends become apparent. I gravitate toward self-loathing like it's a basic black tank top that doesn't wrinkle no matter how tightly you cram it in.
    Also in the suitcase: Versatile basics like immigrant guilt, general parental disapproval, residual perfectionism, and the idea that I owe an insurmountable debt to society for having been lucky enough to be born into a wealthy white family.
  9. But, more than anything else, I owe my work ethic to the imposter syndrome.
  10. No matter what I am doing, I always feel as though it isn't enough to keep on par with the rest of the world.
    Not eating well enough. Not sleeping enough. Not volunteering enough. Not having enough sex. Not exercising enough. Not studying enough. Not being a good enough friend. Not being a vocal enough advocate. Not meeting enough new people. Not applying for enough jobs. Not earning enough money. Not being independent enough. Not calling my grandparents enough. Not cleaning enough. Not travelling enough. Not practicing hobbies enough. Not dating enough. Not reading enough.
  11. I think I'm constantly one mistake away from total failure,
  12. and that disaster is imminent no matter how hard I try to stay ahead.
  13. All my successes can be directly attributed to luck, and the generosity of others,
  14. and all failures are mine alone.
  15. •••
  16. This past summer, I was stressed.
    I was working three jobs, volunteering, running a student magazine, taking a 400-level university class, and waking up every morning wondering if I would finish the day still being permitted to live in the suite I was renting. In addition to already being the highest-strung twentysomething on this side of a tightrope.
  17. The self-doubt was at an all-time high
    I hated 1/3 jobs! I was terrible at 2/3 jobs! I was destined to fail at 3/3 jobs because of who I was as a human being!
  18. And then, right around my twenty first birthday, I started experiencing severe pain in my abdomen.
  19. Not cramps (I don't really menstruate (that's another story)). Not a stitch from working out (I just told you I wasn't working out enough). A pain so sharp I would throw up. A pain that kept coming back, no matter what I did.
  20. So now, in addition to being a piece of shit lowlife with no skills who couldn't even hold down three jobs simultaneously without sacrificing her sleep schedule, I was a piece of shit lowlife who managed stress so poorly that she couldn't stop throwing up.
  21. I spent months of my life throwing up on a daily basis, pausing only to berate myself for not managing my stress as well as literally everyone else.
  22. I don't know how to explain it, other than to say I honestly had no idea that it wasn't normal for a 21 year old to be under so much stress that her body was rejecting food.
    I thought my struggles were universal, and that everyone else (already being so much better at everything than me) was better at managing their problems than I was.
  23. I became quite ill,
    Looking back through my photos, I feel as though I aged about five years in five months.
  24. but refused to see a doctor, because my problems should have been easily managed.
  25. •••
  26. The thing about crippling self-doubt, is that it can kill you.
  27. •••
  28. •••
  29. •••
  30. Obviously, I did not die. But when I finally called it rock bottom in September, and went in to see a doctor, things were pretty bad.
  31. I was told I had cancer, and cried a lot.
    Another story.
  32. It turned out not to be cancer, and I cried even more.
    Another story.
  33. Months later, the doctors still don't know what's going on with me, but I am certain it is somehow linked to my crippling self-doubt.