When Your Inner Critic Wants to Hold You Back

I am naturally a reflective person. With the onset of the new year with all its resolutions and goal setting and fresh starts, it makes only sense that my reflective self would want to go into hyperdrive (lucky me).

For some of you, your reflective selves may the go-getter, “let’s conquer the world” types. But my reflective self? Well, my reflective self likes to dwell on all the things I could have done or should have done or would have done. It contemplates the missteps and the setbacks. It drums up every fear and perceived failure. It turns everything into a near disaster.

Again, lucky me.

Over this last weekend, I had the great fortune to spend some alone time with my reflections while I cared for my parents’ farm by myself. One morning, after opening the gates to the pastures, I stood amongst the goats and petted them as they milled about and we watched the mild sun slowly melting the frost from the grass. One mama goat who can never pass up on some loves bumped me. I sank my fingers into her thick coat, asked my inner self to shut up, and considered for a moment taking care of goats forever.

Obviously, that’s not possible. Not that it would be a bad thing. I mean, the goats are friendly and, I must say, downright adorable. They appreciate my feeding them. They love their pets. They don’t judge (at least, I don’t think they do).

But I haven’t been freelancing full-time as a copy editor and content writer for a little over a year (13 months, 23 days, in fact, but who’s counting?) just to stop. I enjoy my work. I love writing. I feel a deep commitment to helping clients make a notable impression through the written word. I shouldn’t just stop and go take care of goats, right?

Maybe I shouldn’t answer that question.

Here’s the thing. In those quiet moments, I do often find myself feeling more than a little drained. Not from my work or my writing, but from the constant voice in the back of my mind telling me I could be doing more and should be doing more.

For me, being a solopreneur (personally and professionally) means the pressure to make ends meet is all the more imminent. Every day, I must decide how I’m going to make the right connections to find the recurring work that lasts.

I have to continually put myself out there.

I dread doing it. I fear networking opportunities. I doubt my ability to self-promote. I think that everyone will see through the facade I put up and take me for the failure that I think I must be.

My inner critic, and the imposter that it is, never goes away.

If you can relate, can you blame me for wanting to stand out in that goat pasture for just a little while longer?

We self-doubters, women especially, are not alone. Aimee Tariq notes in a recent article, “There are plenty of women out there who feel the same — women who feel like they have no place in the workplace, who feel like their natural tendencies are letting them down.”

But, as Tariq explains, we do have ways to overcome our feelings of inadequacy. From remembering our strengths to finding a mentor to getting a group of people (i.e., cheerleaders) behind us, we can actualize who we want to become. First, though, we have to do what Tariq calls “level[ing] the playing field in our minds.” “Stop stopping yourself,” Tariq states. “More than any other barrier, if you’re a shy and reserved woman, you have to focus on the fact that you are able to do what you set out to accomplish.”

We all should remember that.

I may want to spend another day caring for goats. But I have to believe in myself. I have to face the imposter within me. I have to keep my inner critic from holding me back.

And if I can do it, so can you.

Katie Signature001


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