I don’t know when we all learned not to trust our own parental instincts, but it seems like we are often still searching for some outside authority to direct our understanding of our children and tell us what to do with them. It doesn’t really matter where it comes from, so long as we start to challenge the impulse. Yes, we need to listen to other people and refer to people who are more knowledgeable in certain areas than we are. But, we also need to trust our intuitions and instincts a bit more avidly.
In the interest of being REAL, we’re going to give you REAL in REAL-time.
In the space of this past week, the readership of the Fringy Bit blog jumped over 5000%. Seriously. I’m geeky enough that I did the math. And that’s great. I love that more Fringy Families are able to support each other. I love that the words I spew out on the keyboard resonate with people. I love that I’m not the only one living this type of Fringy life.
On the evening of the day when things really exploded, I returned home from working at the practice to find that my loving husband had already poured me a glass of wine. Now, you’d think this would have been a congratulatory pouring of red, but nope. My husband knows me better than that. It was a glass of wine to help take the edge off just a little bit. He assumed I’d be freaking out and he assumed correctly.
I’d called my best friend earlier in the day and said, “I need you! I’m totally overwhelmed and can’t wrap my mind around this. People from around the world are writing and asking for my opinion and engaging in debate . . . with me. Do they realize I’m just a meager therapist, living life on the fringes, and usually spend my evenings watching Orange is the New Black with my hair up in a messy bun wearing sweatpants? Do they realize that just yesterday I flipped out at my kids and really don’t do this any better than anyone else?!”
The thought that people, literally, around the world were reading my random start-up project of a blog made my teeth sweat from anxiety. Correction. The feeling that people around the world were reading my blog made my teeth sweat from anxiety.
The truth is, my mind knows that I’m competent. My mind knows that I’ve had the training and experience to help support families. My mind knows that I’ve spent countless hours reading and studying and attending conferences and trainings. My mind knows that I know this stuff, both personally and professionally.
But my gut? My gut feels like at some point, someone is going to call shenanigans and reveal that I’ve had it wrong all this time. My gut feels like I’m still that shaky little girl trying to hide from the spotlight. My gut feels like I’m an imposter.
There’s technically a term for this, I suppose. Imposter syndrome. Self-doubt. Really it doesn’t matter what it’s called. It feels kinda cruddy. And I’m not writing about it to be self-important or presumptuous. I'm writing about it because I know that nearly everyone has felt this way at some point in their life. I know that the gifted kids I work with feel it all the time (“people tell me I’m smart, but I don’t think I am. I feel pretty stupid”). I know that many parents I work with can be paralyzed with self-doubt (“everyone tells me I’m a good parent, but I’m really just a fraud. What would they think if they saw me when I yelled at my kid for not brushing his teeth?!”). I know that fringy parents, especially, can feel like imposters (“people keep complimenting me on how much patience I have, but they don’t see what happens when we’re not in public!”)
So, what can we do about it?
We step out there even when we feel afraid. The biggest difference I’ve noticed between people who have more of the life they want and people who don’t, is whether or not they’re willing to be uncomfortable and step into fear.
We surround ourselves with positive, uplifting, and encouraging people. Jon knew exactly what I needed in that moment – a hug, an affirming word, and a glass of wine. Rachel left me a voicemail which will never be deleted in which she said all the right words to quiet that doubting voice in my head. And not only do we surround ourselves with these people – but we reach out and ask for support and help when we need it.
We acknowledge the anxiety, the fear, the doubt. We mindfully notice it and then let it pass on its way. We can’t control what pops into our minds, but we can control what we do with it. And we can either dwell on it and believe it, or choose to notice it and let it slip away. And, yes, sometimes we need to choose to notice it and let it slip away every 5 seconds before it actually slips away and stays away.
We choose not to judge ourselves for judging ourselves. When we are filled with self-doubt, judging ourselves for feeling that way is certainly not going to help. Be kind. Be compassionate. What would you tell your friend in a similar circumstance?
We remind ourselves that no matter what, we’re going to be ok. The worst case scenario rarely happens, and even when it does, we usually come out ok (and even stronger) on the other side.
We remind ourselves that everything is temporary. The pleasant will fade away and the unpleasant will also fade away. The majority of the extra abundance of Fringy Bit readers will probably not be reading this post (though some of you for sure have stuck around, and to you, we say “welcome! And we’re glad to have you!”). There may be another trip around the world for another blogpost of ours, or there might not. Everything is temporary and all will be well.
We take deep breathes and we just keep plugging away.
And, perhaps most importantly, we remind ourselves that everyone has moments of self-doubt. Everyone’s voice is important. Everyone feels in over their heads at some point, or that cliché wouldn’t exist. And when we can remind ourselves of that, we can be REAL. And when we’re REAL with each other, well, that’s when true connection and freedom happens.