“I’m dropping out of school,” I told Adrienne.
“Uh…no you’re not.” A firm response from one of my dearest friends came back to me.
I was sitting on a wooden bench in ASU’s business building. Despite the deluge of students pouring out of their respective classrooms to head to their next obligation, I was crying, as I customarily do whenever any more-than-minor blow comes up (people who know me: sorry). But this was a long, continuous cry – a sure-fire sign that I was having a more grave difficulty with my life at that moment than usual.
I was sitting at a solid 3.6 GPA for my Master’s degree. I had passed 3 of the 4 sections of the CPA exam. I was the president of my business fraternity and ostensibly doing a fantastic job – we had earned a community service award, drastically increased our membership and attendance, and had finally elevated ourselves to the level of Nationally Distinguished Chapter. I had put hundreds of hours into volunteering for my community and had changed lives in the process. I had had a job lined up at a top accounting firm for months. I had built friendships with my college friends that would prove to be rewarding and life-affirming.
So…why exactly was I crying? Because I failed a test. One. Freaking. Test. It had been for a class I hated that I felt was thoroughly inconsequential to my long-term career goals. But it didn’t matter, because in my mind…
If I failed the test, I would probably fail the class (which was probable, had I not taken steps to ameliorate my grade). If I failed the class, I would fail my degree (which is true). If I failed my degree, I would lose my job offer. If I lost my job offer, I would go back to being a nobody with no job. And if that happened, well…I might as well be the most useless human being in the world, right? And all of the great things I had done would be overshadowed by this one measly indiscretion, right?
It seems completely irrational and stupid that I went down this mental path. And, to be frank with my 22/23-year-old self, it was, honey. It was. But it’s a perfect example I can use to illustrate just how crippling and debilitating my lack of confidence can be.
Of course, things have improved since then. At nearly 26, I no longer think that my world will detonate if I “fail” a work assignment/task (since school doesn’t apply here anymore). I can analyze things a little more rationally and I cry a little less often. But I still have my moments.
Sometimes my confidence is like an overheated engine running way too many RPMs too fast and I’m bordering on arrogance with how good I feel about myself. Other times, I struggle to pick out one positive attribute about myself and I let myself downward-spiral into a pit of harrowing despair. For instance, when I start to care about someone from a romantic perspective, my confidence levels go especially berserk. My mind is nothing but an endless feed of “doubt snippets”, or questions and comments that continuously flow through my stream of consciousness and prevent me from acting like a normal human being. So if I like someone, my brain is tapping away at my mind-door going How do I keep this person? At the same time, how do I be myself? What does “being myself” mean anyway? I’m kind of crazy, but in a good way, like it’s funny…I think? Am I actually funny? Am I enjoyable to be around at all? I feel like I’m ugly. But this person says I’m pretty. Am I pretty, though? They could totally be lying! Are they lying? What else are they lying about when they say nice things? Oh God, I’m starting to feel like I want this person to be my..you know…BOYFRIEND soon. Should I feel this way already? Should I feel that other way instead? How should I act? Do I act interested? Do I have the right to care about x or y? And so on and so forth.
All the while, I accidentally end up being myself – open, wacky, and emotionally vulnerable, that is. And traditionally, the people who choose to boo me up tend to be the people who are okay with open, wacky, and emotionally vulnerable. And when things ended, it generally wasn’t because of who I am a person, but because of things totally unrelated. Which, you know, is pretty common among people, the super-awesome and confident included.
Still, it’s not fun to deal with those negative thoughts while I’m trying to do something positive. I want to start going into situations and minimizing those thoughts as much as possible. Whether it’s for a new job in the future, a pole competition, or a love interest, I want to be confident in who I am and know that things will play out for the best. I might get that job – if I don’t, there’s a better one around the corner. I might win that competition – if I don’t, I walk away learning what not to do in the future. I might snag the guy I stan for, and if I don’t, he wasn’t the one for me anyway.
Things, generally speaking, happen the way they are supposed to happen.
I want to be confident. I want to worry less. I have already spent countless hour hypothesizing why I don’t feel confident and why I worry at times, but I’m at the point where I’m just trying to improve with regards to these matters.
And as lazy as it sounds, I think the best thing I can do is just let life happen.