Friday, February 19, 2016

Stop Undercutting Yourself

One of my photos on Shutterstock. You can see more here.

I’ve always liked taking pictures. Recently I started selling some of my photos as micro stock. Even though I only have a small portfolio, a few pictures have had traction. My initial reaction was to believe it was beginner’s luck, not that I might have an eye for photography.

Writing is one of my true loves. Sometimes the words find me and sometimes I find the words, regardless a few of my submissions have been accepted for publication. Still, I struggle calling myself a writer. I’m more likely to say that it’s just “something I do.”

For ten plus years, I worked a job that I loved. A job where I had a wide array of amazing opportunities. Deep down, I never truly believed that I had rightfully earned a spot at the big boy table. In spite of the fact that I worked long hours, it was easier for me to chalk my accomplishments up to good fortune and trusted mentors, not dedication or drive.

I’m not sure why it’s harder for me to take ownership of the good things than the failures. If I was an outsider looking in with clarity I’d see that I'm not a passive participant in my own life. I’d observe: topical book reading, the studying of other’s work, the note-taking and self-critiquing.

But I’m not an outsider looking in.

I’m a girl who lapses into believing that she hasn’t worked hard enough for the things she has. That because she hasn’t had to “triumph” therefore she hasn't “achieved.”

There have been a number of providentially lucky breaks in my life, admittedly more than my fair share. And I’ve capitalized on those. While not compelling, a happy childhood in suburban, middleclass America is a terrible thing to squander.

It’s reassuring to know that I’m not the only one with this problem. Most people, in spite of far greater measures of success, never truly feel that they’ve “arrived.”

And still…

It’s a bad habit and a vanity of its own.

I’m not sure what it is at the root of it: pride, fear, insecurity, an ingrained misguided belief that if you enjoy the process that garners a desired outcome, then it doesn’t “count.”

What I do know is that if I want to live life with an emphasis on fullness, then I need to accept all of life: the ups, the downs, the destiny, and the driver’s seat.

I’m working to follow the wisdom of May Sarton and become myself:

Now I become myself. It's taken
Time, many years and places;
I have been dissolved and shaken,
Worn other people's faces.

Perhaps, just maybe, you too need to stop undercutting yourself and acknowledge your hand in your own accomplishments?


  1. I'm job hunting right now, and somehow I keep feeling like people who get my resume are going to laugh, then call me to fuss at me for daring to apply. Completely illogical and I'm getting on my own nerves w/ it. - K.