Have you ever asked yourself, “why am I not where I want to be yet?(!!)”
Whenever I’m feeling vulnerable and insecure about my personal development, this question burns a hole in my mind. Once it pops into my head, I spiral into the depths of my self-doubt. I just can’t help myself!
It quickly leads to more soul-crushing questions…
Why am I not the person I want to be?
How can I become more like that person?
Are my dreams too crazy?
How do I even accomplish all I want to do in one lifetime, let alone, before 40?(!!)
Let’s not forget the ringleader of the group: am I good enough?
Whenever I ask myself these questions, my natural response is to add to my ever-growing Change-Me-List. Constructed by the perfectionist in me, it breaks down areas, skills and characteristics I still need to develop. It covers everything from lifestyle changes, career choices and carefully curate who I need to be in order to reach my goals.
I know I have a lot of work to do when it comes to my personal development, but even I know it can sound a bit crazy.
At my low points, my Inner Critic acts as a psychological dominatrix and whips me senseless (and not in a good way). She reminds me of how unworthy I am, over and over again. Of course, deep down, I know I am the person doing the torturing. I keep bringing up all of my flaws, mistakes, faults, and yet, I couldn’t get myself to stop. It’s almost like I need to feel shitty about myself because I wasn’t doing enough and the punishment is my reminder.
As I started to work on my personal development, I began to recognize the guilt, shame and judgment I took upon myself. It was time to face the music (or in this case, the punishing dominatrix). Slowly, I unpack all the things I was avoiding, bit by bit.
It was the type of work that would allow me to become who I wanted to be. I needed to change, not in a superficial way, starting from the inside out.
I came face to face with the true, deep work I had to do. The kind that mattered when it comes to growing as a person. I had to understand my pain and follow it to where it began. I started to call out my guilt and instead of beating myself up about it, I tried pairing it with kindness. I started to listen to my shame and pay close attention to what it was trying to tell me about myself and my experiences.
What surprised me most about managing the urge to punish myself, was learning I wasn’t the only one that felt this way…
I am extremely fortunate to have so many amazing people in my life. They’re great at building businesses, leading communities and making an impact in their world. What’s even more impressive than their accomplishments is who they are as people. Their character inspires me to become my best self and help others do the same.
It was their integrity, care for others and sense of purpose that helped them surpass career milestone after milestone. It also happens to be the foundation of our friendship. The more conversations I had with my successful friends, the more they revealed something I didn’t expect…
Despite their supposed “success” (as everyone defines success differently), we found ourselves confessing our fears of failure, imposter syndrome, and other personal issues I never knew they experienced. From student leaders to startup founders, community leaders, and even award-winning corporate executives – we all shared stories about dealing with anxiety, depression and struggles to manage our personal and professional lives.
No matter what we did, how much experience we had or what we were striving to achieve, the pattern was the same. We had a higher perception of each other, in terms of character, accomplishments, and success, than we did of ourselves.
I recognized that I was not alone in my personal insecurities and skewed sense of self when it comes to where I am in life, love, and my career.
Naturally, we all wish for a better life. We want to thrive in love, happiness, and fulfillment. That said, it felt so out of reach. It didn’t matter how many awards, achievements or admirers we had, it just wasn’t enough. For each compliment given, we were quick with a rebuttal of why it wasn’t a big deal and anyone could have done it.
Every accomplishment was followed by something we wished we could have done better, sooner or differently. It was as if we could have been wildly successful and reached every single one of our goals, if only we were given a do-over. A second chance to do things “right”, whatever that looked like. Maybe then we would have been happier, fulfilled or even, in some strange way, complete. But it never happened that way, not in the way we wanted to anyways.
That was it, that was the problem. No matter what we “achieve”, we would constantly live in a state of questioning whether or not we would ever be good enough.
It was a relief to know I wasn’t alone in how I felt. Though it deeply saddened me to see my friends continuously doubting themselves. I get it though because I do it too.
Melissa Thi Le is the Founder of Strive With Me, a business owner, and community leader. She loves learning about personal development, business, and social impact as she builds a life dedicated to combating social issues affecting millions of people. She created Strive With Me to build a community to support each other on their journey towards achieving their goals. You can reach Melissa by sending her an email at Contributor@strivewithme.com or joining our Facebook Group. You can read more about what Melissa is striving for here and more of her articles here.