Zoe Sugg's recent Instagram post this week made me think about all the conversations my friends and I share. No, these aren't quite like the scenes in Sex and the City with Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte, ironing out their issues over a few Cosmopolitans. I'm talking about personal conversations over a luke warm cups of coffee whilst we try and assemble a Lego dinosaur with our kids. Very sophisticated.
If you're not sure what I'm talking about, @zoe_sugg shared a post last Monday saying:
'I was sat contemplating what to put for the caption of this image for so long & the reason I think I was struggling is because I have major imposter syndrome at the moment! I’m constantly doubting everything I’ve achieved, everything I’m working on business wise & everything I’m working on in my personal life!'.
She also asks if anyone else ever feels this way.
The simple answer is: yes!
Let's just make an unnecessary comparison
On paper, Zoe is 28, juggles a number of successful businesses stemming from her blog and Youtube channel. She, and her equally successful boyfriend Alfie Days, own a mansion in Brighton and live a very lavish lifestyle. Oh, and to top it off, she's absolutely beautiful and I'm pretty sure her pelvic floor muscles don't let her down if she's on a trampoline.
Meanwhile, I'm 30, I've been with my boyfriend for 10 years, we have a daughter and we are soon to be expecting baby no.2. For the past 8 years, I've been following my passions and I run a small business which I love.
Following your passion sounds really dreamy but in reality, it can mean you work full-time hours and get paid a part time wage. After giving birth to my daughter, the next day I was feeding her whilst hunched over my emails and I returned to teaching after 3 weeks. When my friends talk about taking maternity leave, I can't relate. I'm not married, nor do my partner and I own a house. My job means I'm still answering emails at midnight and it's hard to switch off when there's a multitude of ways that people can now contact you. I'm a one woman show, meaning if I don't do the work, there's no back up and no help. On paper my life might sound hunky dory but I have worries that make my heart palpitate and I find myself awake at 3am adding to the list of things I need to-do or ideas.
If I carried on thinking this way, it would make me head into a downward spiral as I would only be focusing on the negatives. Believe me, I've been there.
You're not alone
Speak with any of my friends and they are faced with doubts and fears when it comes to their own lives too. No-one, however successful, is immune to it.
Some of them are in their 20s and others in their 60s. Some have children, some don't. Some love their jobs, others still have no clue want they want to do for a career. Some are healthy and others are battling health issues. Some want to travel and others long to meet 'the one' and settle down. Some have been married and divorced by 30 and others are in their 50s and have never been married.
Where does all this self doubt come from?
Self doubt and fear can be experienced for a split second or consume many years of our lives, in my experience it stems from a place of uncertainty. Wanting to change and grow is perfectly normal but when we worry about what our friends, family or have a massive online following ready at the thumbs to judge; no wonder we feel hesitant to make a move. This can result in feeling trapped, making us panic and worry. We flit between thinking back to the past, questioning our decisions and actions, then look to the future catastrophizing potential scenarios. This monkey brain way of thinking can prove irrational and though it doesn't help change our circumstances, it can affect our short to long term health. If we are not careful, our lives.
It's easy to look at someone else's life and assume that they are richer, more successful or more attractive. It doesn't help that some people throw their judgmental opinions around because it's free; imagine if there was a price tag on it, I think more trolls would keep their traps shut.
We aren't meant to stay the same, be whoever we were 10 years ago or look like we did 10 years ago.
One of my resolutions in my late 20s was to sort my sh*t out so that when I hit my 30s, I could enjoy life with my kids and not have a load of demons holding me back from living my best life. It doesn't make me immune to pain, emotions, bad luck, bad decisions or unfortunate circumstances. But it does make me respond better to whatever is thrown at me rather than living my life reacting to everything.
How to turn that self doubt into self care
1. Ask yourself why you're doubting yourself || Be your own best friend or counselor; get a pen and paper, and write why your feeling the way you are feeling. Whether it results in bullet points or full on sentences and scribbles, it doesn't matter. Get it out of your head, be candid and honest during this exercise (no-one else has to see it) and then leave it for a bit. Go do something else and return to it when you are feeling less attached. You'll be able to have more of an objective view to the thoughts you've been having and you can start piecing together a plan or solution. Heck, you might even laugh at the way you've been feeling and it might make it less weighty in the scheme of things.
2. Give yourself time || We are all busy but you need to start making little bits of time for yourself. Brushing your teeth doesn't take that long; imagine if you didn't do it for even one day, you're mouth would feel like it's covered in moss. Self care doesn't have to take ages, in fact it's all the little things that add up and make a difference. It can be making yourself some herbal tea, drinking more water, reading a chapter of a book, going to bed 30 minutes earlier, turning off notifications on your phone or taking a break from social media for a day.
3. Declutter || Mess can make your mind cluttered so file and recycle some paperwork that's been left on the stairs, or clear out a draw. Avoid big projects, like tackling the garage, that will take ages as this will just agitate another task that needs to be done and might make you feel overwhelmed.
Do something that will take your mind off your worries || Take a short to long walk outside, do some Yoga or go Boxing. For me, the answers come when I focus less on my problems.
4. Say no more often || This can be hard and don't take it so literally, I certainly won't say no to chocolate. But if you're life is overloaded and you suddenly find yourself saying yes to making 100 cupcakes for the school fair last minute or taking on an extra client on when you're struggling as it is, this is not a path to self care. Spreading yourself thin will lead to burnout, frustration and can be anxiety inducing. If saying no isn't the answer, just tell the person you will get back to them and give yourself time to think clearly.
5. Stop comparing yourself to others || It's the worst thing you can do. We all have that one friend that seems to have it all, boasting about their unexpected job promotion or their romantic engagement story. The grass isn't greener on the other side and I'm pretty sure they have similar worries that you do too. If this means stepping back from certain relationships or unfollowing accounts that make you feel less worthy, then go for it.
6. Focus on what you do have || Ever heard of gratitude is the best attitude? Cheesy as it sounds, focus on what you do have rather than what you don't. I'm not talking about material things, this can be experiences or qualities about yourself that are individual to you and make you an amazing person!
I hope you can turn some negatives into some positives and enjoy adulting a little bit more. It's not easy so why make it more complicated or let others try and stunt your growth?