There are two kinds of self-doubt. The good kind and the bad kind. The good kind is the self-doubt that makes you edit your novel or rethink a design that’s not perfect. Without self-doubt there would be no great art or literature of music. Innovation would be halted and slow. The good self-doubt is the kind that acts as your own personal Jiminy Cricket whispering in your ear saying “it’s good, but you are capable of so much more. It could be great!” Never ditch him. Tuck him into the brim of your hat and respect the advice that he gives you.
The bad kind is the self-doubt that keeps you from doing things. It’s the little voice telling you that no matter how hard you try, no matter how dedicated and vigilant you are, it will never be enough. Here are some ways to get over it.
Realize that no one is good at everything
Even those do-it-all girls who played every sport, were valedictorian, graduated college at the top of their honors, and landed their dream job. Yes, even those people have something they aren’t good at. It might be basket-weaving or some equally antiquated talent, but that’s besides the point. It’s okay to have things you don’t like or that you don’t do well.
Because you can’t be good at everything, find people who are good at the stuff you are not, so you can complete your tasks. If you are a great writer and director, but not a great promoter, find people who are good at social media. And make sure those people are just as excited about your project as you. Their emotional investment will help you let go of the reservations you have about doing a project where you might not be capable of finishing every aspect by yourself.
Find people who will appreciate your talents but who will also be honest with you
Surround yourself with people who are interested in the projects that you want to do and who you trust to be honest with you. They will act as a safety net so that you can be more open, take more risk, while at the same time knowing there are people who will reel you in if you go too far.
Accept that failure is a possibility
Everything that you do might not work out and that’s scary, but if you don’t try, you will never do anything. If you accept that you might have to put something on the shelf or start over and try again, you have no reason to doubt yourself because you prepared to start over and try again and again until you get it right. Remember that failure is part of the process–Thomas Edison made many, many light bulb prototypes before he made an actual working light bulb. All it takes is time, patience, and a whole lot of persistence.
Like most things, overcoming self-doubt is easier said than done. It is often referred to as a hallmark, or a defining feature, of being in your twenties. The sooner you accept that, and the more often you reassure yourself that even when things are going wrong, they will eventually go right, the sooner you will be able to let go of past (and future) failures, and you’ll be one step closer to success.