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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Being alone with my thoughts is not a safe place

I started out as the girl who blushed. At my first real job, I didn't feel confident in myself or my skills or my ability to do my job. I was insecure, I guess. Green. And I'd blush whenever people looked at me. Or whenever I had to talk to people--which is rather frequently when you're a reporter. I felt that they could see through my inexperience and know that I wasn't really sure what I was doing. That I was just playing a part.

And then I wasn't.

Somewhere along the way, I got good at what I did. I had experience and lots of clips to be proud of. And no one intimidated me. Not CEOs. Not CFOs. Or PR flaks. Or financial analysts. Or fund managers. I was a good reporter. And I stopped blushing. I was good at my job. Even if I didn't particularly like it all that much. So I quit to do something else. Then I got pregnant. And here I am five years later. And I don't have any confidence. And I don't have any recent clips. And I feel like that green college graduate, who wondered if anyone would ever want to hire me when I was surrounded by thousands of other smart and driven recent grads. I feel like that shy girl, who wondered why any guy would ever want to go out with me when I was surrounded by so many other smart and pretty girls.

It's like I don't remember how to write, even though I've been writing my whole life. I get so paralyzed with fear of failure. I guess that is why people who want to quit smoking tell people they are going to quit. It is like once you tell people, then if you fail, you haven't just let yourself down. You let this whole group of people you respect down. And that is where I am with this book. I have told scores of people about my book. This amazing book that I'm writing for parents who have young kids in the hospital--a topic in which I sadly have too much personal experience. I want to believe that I'm that confident and capable writer. I want to believe that I can do it. I want other people to think I'm confident and capable. I want other people to believe in me, so that some of their confidence rubs off and me and helps me succeed.

Part of the problem is that I'm emotionally connected to the book's topic. I have to go places that I've been trying to forget for four-and-a-half years. Dark places. Sad places. Angry places. Weak places. Defeated places. And so I'm stuck. I need to deal with my own messed-up life first. I need to confront all of those demons. I'm reminded of them every time I see an ambulance. I'm reminded of them every time I go to the pharmacy. I'm reminded of them with every doctor appointment. With every test result. With every dose of medicine.

So now that I've carved all this time into my schedule so that I can work, it is just me and my thoughts. I've realized that having no time to write was a gift. The gift of avoidance. Having no time to write was the perfect way for me to not deal with my own stuff. I guess it is true what they say: be careful what you wish for. I wished for some childcare so that I could work. What I ended up with was a bit of insomnia, a dash of depression, an inability to stop snacking, and the realization that I'm not as nearly together as I thought I was.


  1. Anonymous12:02 PM

    Confidence, true confidence, is overrated. I have come to the conclusion that I will always harbor that fear of rejection. Perhaps its stems from being a younger sibling that got picked on a lot. Maybe its that I always heard I had SO MUCH POTENTIAL, and now I feel that because I'm not a pulizer prize winner yet - let alone published in my favorite rags, I'm somehow a loser. I spent all last week agonizing over my portfolio, the color was off, the photos not perfect, but it was all I had and I put on my best face, wiped my sweaty palms and walked into the New York Publishing & advertising world. I walked my best runway walk (not really but that's what I was thinking) and my meetings went great. They even took me to see others, and recommended other contacts. I don't know if they saw through me but it felt pretty good. Just remember, putting it out there is scary, but no matter how many times I think I might have failed, its that group of people who believe in me that continue to help me out. We will always support you, because we don't just think you are great, we know it.

  2. Hi Suzanne,
    First I want to tell you that the book you are writing is important and is needed. I know you will do a great job with it. But it's true that you need to deal with things before you can complete the book. I often will end up in tears listening to a particular song, or hearing other parents talk about how "hard" it is to take their kids in to get shots. Every time I hear about a new baby having to undergo open-heart surgery all the memories come flooding back. I keep wanting to know when I will get over this. When will I be able to just accept Drew's condition and surgeries as a part of our lives? But the truth is, we may never "get over it." Because it's not over for our kids. Maybe you should take some of your childcare time to see a counselor. I was seeing one for a while just to work though our first hospitalization. It really helped, but I think I should go back. And just for the record, you seem pretty together to me!