Coping with Confidence Paralysis
I finally fired off an email reply to an organization. This is not my first inquiry. It’s not an unsolicited email. It is a response to an almost year long quest to gain an interview (or series of interviews) with their experts for one of my programs (hopefully I’ll be able to share details in the near future, but for now let’s just leave it at it’s a biggie!) Sometimes I find myself with confidence paralysis and it’s something that I have to fight against with everything that is in me.
It’s amazing what a little bit of perspective can provide for you if you are open to exploring things from the opposite shore. One might look at this situation and see the fact that I am in conversation with the organization – that I am replying to questions they have for me about my request. I have already made the initial connection, turned that connection into dialogue, generated potential interest and gotten to the point that they are reaching out to clarify my ask before making a determination. You definitely don’t get this far if there is no possibility.
Getting this far is in many ways a success, in and of itself! It is confirmation that my program’s proof of concept has been weighed, measured and found acceptable, if not awesome! I’d like to think they think it’s pretty awesome. I’d like to think that because I’ve been working on building this program for over six years. When you’ve been at it this long you begin to lose perspective about the big picture. Thankfully I have a wonderful support network that reminds me of how far I have come from our very first shoot.
The challenge I keep coming across is that no matter how much I do, or how much progress I make up the ladder, I continue to reach this bridge of confidence paralysis. For me, it looks like having an email window open for 4, 6, or 8 hours without making any progress on the reply. Sometimes, depending on the “scariness” of the opportunity, that email window will turn into an email draft that remains in my draft folder for weeks to months at a time. The worst example was when I went an entire year without replying to an offer from a dear friend to connect me with a Hollywood producer for a project. It should have been a dream opportunity, but my head turned it into fear, fear and more fear!
Perhaps there is a clinical term for my aversion to diving headlong into “scary” situations. I’m using the quotations when it comes to the word scary because my peers would tell you that at times I’m like a bull in a china shop. I dive into ideas without worrying about the consequences of who I will meet or who I will need to become in order to execute the idea at a professional level. It is only when there is a glimmer of hope that the idea could actually turn into something real that I start to freeze.
Feels Like Walking on Thin Ice!
Over time I’ve become better at catching myself doing it, but that doesn’t change the fact that my dreams are often terrifying to me. They are both essential to my success and happiness and absolutely terrifying. Thankfully some leadership training I experienced about a decade ago gave me the ability to say, I’m afraid or I’m terrified yet I still power through and do the deed anyway. Sometimes that requires white-knuckling it, other times it requires having an accountability partner give me a pep talk about where I have been, what I have already accomplished and why I am unstoppable.
Tonight I stared down the offensive email, felt the feelings of inadequacy, fear and exhilaration swirl into one big blob and reasoned with myself why I should not send it, or say this or that. In the end, I read through my response, made sure there were no typos, eyed down my quirky, pollyanna, late night communication style and let it fly. My refusal to engage in the process of communication will not be what holds me back. My stomach lurches at the thought of what a yes would look like, but thankfully I can worry about that later.
Right now I’ve done all I can do, all that was required of me and pretty much all that I feel capable of doing. At the end of the day, you’ve got to be IN IT TO WIN IT!. Right? I’ll never be perfect. My confidence paralysis will return again and again, but hopefully next time, like tonight, I will again be up to the challenge.
Written by Tatiana Bacchus-Frequent Guest Blogger for Arts In Action & Owner: Teaspoon & Pound Media LLC