When you grow up being constantly told you can’t do things, it’s really hard to believe in yourself. Because of that, just making an attempt to learn something new, or to build a skill, can be scary. What if all the people who told you that you would fail were right?
When I was growing up, no matter what I said I wanted to do, I was told I would never manage it. I wasn’t good enough, or talented enough, or dedicated enough, or whatever. People made fun of me for my dreams, as bullies will.
I’m not saying any of that to whine, by the way. Just setting the stage.
When I was a kid, there were three things I wanted to do. I wanted to teach. I wanted to be a published author. And I wanted to write songs and perform them in front of audiences.
Despite everyone who told me I couldn’t do those things, I’ve done two. I used to teach; I had to stop due to health issues. And obviously I’m a published author, since this is my author website…
But I had people who believed in me when I did those things.
When I was in elementary school, the special education teacher asked my classroom teacher if I could tutor a couple of her students during the school day. She told me over and over what a great job I did, especially when I managed to help one of her students understand long division, something they’d been working on for months. And when I was in high school, my guidance counselor arranged for me to give up a study hall to volunteer in the special education classroom at the adjacent elementary school. There, again, I was able to help students make progress, and was told by the teacher and her aides that I should go on to become a teacher myself.
In kindergarten, since I already knew how to read, the teacher wasn’t quite sure what to do with me. One day, I showed her a story I’d written. From that point on, writing stories became part of my reading program. She had me read books from the classroom library and write my own stories based on them. In high school, my tenth grade English teacher enjoyed my stories so much that when she required us to keep journals, she allowed me to keep a journal for one of my characters instead of myself. And when I met my husband, I let him read a couple of erotica stories I’d written, and he told me I should keep writing, and that I shouldn’t hold myself back out of fear if I really wanted to be published.
Now I’m working on the singer-songwriter thing. And I don’t seem to have anyone who believes in me. At least not out of the people who’ve heard or read my songs, or heard me sing. (Except the vocal coach who told me I have a beautiful voice and can definitely make it onstage. But I can’t afford to have her keep telling me that at $50 a lesson…)
A friend told me I need to fight for myself on this. That I should ignore the “haters” if I believe I can do this. But that really isn’t easy when one of the “haters” is my guy who’s helping me with the music. And it isn’t easy when I was brought up to believe I would fail no matter what, and fighting for myself was… not a smart thing to do.
I’m still trying. I just wish someone in my “real” life believed in me.