For the past year and a half, I have been pretty transparent about my battle with self-doubt and confusion about whether I’m where I should be and doing what I should be doing. For most of my life, I’ve been known as confident, firm in my convictions, and moving toward a specific goal. While the goal sometimes changes, I remain steadfast in my pursuit of it. However, leaving California and moving to a new state, struggling to find friends, and having some other personal issues at play, I’ve never felt more displaced. At the end of this post, I will link to posts that I think expand on the feelings I’ve had, which I encourage you to read if you haven’t already. Anyway, I think a large part of my self-doubt is rooted in the feeling of displacement that was so present during my first year of law school. I never felt smart enough to be here, I consistently felt like my tribe was nowhere to be found (and sobbed just thinking about my college friends), and I generally felt like I made some massive mistake. However, I took specific steps to overcome self-doubt and they really improved my confidence and I slowly felt the feelings of self-doubt being replaced with feelings of confidence or at least contentedness.
First, I was selective about where I invested my time. I was so involved in college, but in law school I decided to be more selective and focus heavily on my classes, adding things to my schedule only when I was really passionate about them. The selectiveness made me feel in control – a feeling I was missing.
Second, if I felt like someone was taking away from my happiness, I minimized interactions with them. I recently visited my college with one of my law school friends and when relaying the details of our visit to my family she said, “those are Callie’s people.” I laughed, knowing it was completely true. When I first got to law school, I wasn’t finding my people. People I was spending time with operated very differently than I did and I felt so drained after spending time with them. That may seem harsh, but in all honesty, they’re fine people, just not my people. So, I asked people I did enjoy spending time with to go for coffee and made a more pointed effort to see them more.
Third, fake it ’til you make it with daily reminders. Something people may not know is, when I was really struggling, I started meditating and I would meditate on confidence or self-doubt. I would try to meditate and clear my head, reminding myself that I am good enough, that I got into this law school for a reason, and that just being me was enough. Small reminders and pointed thinking helped me tremendously.
Fourth, take time to do the things you know you enjoy and are good at doing. Do you enjoy running? Are you good at playing the guitar? Do you enjoy coffee? Do you enjoy reading a book before bed? When you’re feeling displaced or confused or overwhelmed with doubt, ground yourself in the things that make you, you. I started reading before bed, and it’s changed my life. I feel so much happier going to bed and I sleep better, which makes my day better. I listen to music and stretch. I go for walks around my town, getting sunshine and fresh air, and I feel so much better afterward. When you’re struggling, I think it’s helpful to return to your passions and the things you know you’re good at in order to feel like a more confident you. I left college feeling so capable, sure, and motivated. That all faded at an alarming pace and returning to small things that I loved (e.g., reading novels before bed) made all the difference.
Fifth, when small changes won’t do, make big changes. Sometimes what is making your unhappy or unsure about yourself is more rooted in your daily life. This was true for me. I felt like when you’re trying to high five a person and you just keeping missing hands, unable to meet the other person where they are or maybe they’re unable to meet you where you are and you just do not mesh. If this is the case, make a major change. Figure out what is best for you, and take the plunge. While it can be scary and may cause drama, know that making the decision is a heightened version of self-care that we could all use more of in this life.
Sixth, establish a support system. Reach out to mentors, talk to your family, express your feelings to your friends (your real friends, not acquaintances or selfish people). I feel like a bit of a broken record when I talk about support systems, but if the last year has taught me anything, it’s that support systems are invaluable and you want to make sure you have a support system that will last a while. There’s nothing sadder, in my opinion, of seeing people throw away people who care in favor of people who care right now.
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