My self-confidence has taken a beating lately. It’s been insidious, starting perhaps with the perfect storm of retirement, my own aging process and caring for my dad who had a stroke.
Since then, I haven’t been able to find my footing. The ground beneath me often feels like gelatin or worse yet, like the crossroads that Dorothy meets on the Yellow Brick Road trying to get to Oz. Which way to go? What to do?
But as I grow older, and especially the last few years, my mojo feels like it’s left the building. Depression? Perhaps. Sadness? Definitely. This time in life presents a lot of loss — youth, energy, friends and relatives who become ill and die — so sadness comes with the territory.
I remind myself: Be gentle with your precious being during this time. The last five years since dad’s stroke have been rough. In hindsight I’ll probably ask myself how I did all this. And even in the midst of it I have to remind myself I have accomplished some goals.
Two years ago I spoke to a group of 200 politicians and lawmakers, sharing my personal story about caregiving and actions that need to be taken. Later, I spoke at a local press conference about caregiving issues. And I actually finished the first draft of a new novel.
From the outside looking in that may seem — well — important. But truth be told, I’m just not feeling it. I’m proud and happy about these achievements, but from where I’m sitting, what I’m speaking about here, is an inside job. A feeling of elation, motivation and thrill that comes from a deep inner sense of confidence, of knowing you’ve got this, whatever “this” may be.
I quaked through those talks on caregiving. I still think the draft of my novel is total crap.
So there you have it. Truth out.
But as I sit with this process of feeling incompetent and no confidence whatsoever, I know this will pass as everything does. Not that I will ever be the life of the party. I never was someone prone to blustering and bragging, but hopefully I will reach a point where I can start to feel solid ground beneath me again, feel a stronger sense of self.
The saying goes that “when fishermen can’t go to sea, they mend their nets.” For now, I’m mending my nets, honoring that maybe for this day what I’m doing is enough. I got up, cared for dad, made phone calls to doctors. Came home exhausted and took a nap.
The truth is, I’m in new and foreign territory at this stage in life. The 9-to-5 jobs of my entire writing career gave me structure, but now I’m forging a new and different self in the midst of challenges and a vast sea of possibilities. It’s scary out there. But I’m learning, and honestly, sometimes struggling, with whatever arises.
I know in time I will find my way back home to my self. And my own brand of quiet confidence. I know it never left, perhaps just resting, as it needs to, as I need to, as we all need to. Life can weary us. But a major event — divorce, death, diagnose of an illness — can all but exhaust us.
So tonight, I’ll finish writing this blog post, read a bit and set some small goals for tomorrow. Go back over the manuscript of my novel and cringe through every word. Take a walk. Care for dad. Take a nap. Pray and meditate. Breathe.
All will be tiny steps toward center. I don’t know when my confidence will awaken within me again, but when it does, I’ll welcome it with open arms and heart.
For now, my prayer is to be at peace where I am in life and that you may be, too. Life is hard enough without putting pressure on ourselves. In Divine right timing, all will unfold and as my favorite medieval mystic Juliana of Norwich said, “All shall be well.”
It really will be, you know. Mojo or not.
(Blogger’s note: If you want some handy tips on building self-confidence and other sage advice, check out my friend Patti Villalobos’ Coaching Page on Facebook. I think you’ll like her suggestions. And her.)