Why Believing In Yourself Is More Important (And Less Cheesy) Than You Think

Editor’s note: the original version of this article was first published on the C2C in 2010.

I often have this conversation with a best friend of mine. We both agree that the problem of our generation is not that we don’t have any opportunities, it’s really that we have too many. There are way too many options and there are way too many people telling us to take advantage of them. They seem to be saying, “You better make the right choice, choose the right opportunity, be the right person, because you only got one shot. And it’ll be gone before you know it.”

That’s the pressure that 20-somethings have to contend with, and this pressure leaves many calling this period of life: “The Quarter Life Crisis.” We live life as if every new moment is a single domino in a long, winding stack of dominoes, all interconnected, and we’re very careful and terrified if a domino we place down today should cause the whole thing to collapse, and at the end of our lives reveal a pattern that spells out: “FAIL.”

So, it isn’t strange that sometimes I do wonder whether writing is the right path for me. I sometimes will fall into The Quarter-Life Sink-Hole and start to thinking: wouldn’t it be better if I became a senator? Or an astronaut?  An entrepreneur? An inventor? An activist? Or the first Latino President? Or a firefighter? Or a musician? Or…

None of this thinking is really serious, it all just serves to sabotage my belief in myself, and what I know is right for me.

Why Believing In Yourself Is More Important (And Less Cheesy) Than You Think

Modern society does a great job of subverting our own intentions for ourself. You watch a TV, or a Movie, or see it in a Magazine:  a person stands tall and confident in who he or she is and what he or she chose to accomplish. And like little kids distracted by a shiny object, us Quarter Lifers automatically go: “Oooh!  I wanna be that!”

Instead of saying, “Well, I’m happy for that person. It’s great what they’re doing, but what they’re doing is just not for me.”

But that’s not really how we we’re raised to approach things. We we’re raised to entertain every possibility as a real possibility for us. But so many possibilities can be overwhelming and cloud our eyes from what we really want to do, what we would still do even if no one else was watching us, judging us, praising us, or acknowledging us for doing it. For me that thing is writing, for you it might be something else.

This is the age of multitasking, of efficiency, of getting it all down at once, harder, faster, STRONGER! So it makes sense that we should feel pressured that even our personal lives and careers need to be practices in this crazy trend of multitasking. Hey, if JLo can act, sing, dance, and have best-selling fragrance, why can’t you? So we set unbelievably high expectations for ourselves, or we entertain far too many options that we would never have entertained in the first place if we simply had some time to really be with ourselves and listen to our own heart.

What would our heart tell us, if we listened to it?

What has my heart been telling me?

Well, first of all, I doubt many people are constantly getting a rush of stories ideas into their head, and I doubt such a thing would be useful to a politician, a firefighter, or even JLo.  So… I say:  “Breathe Ollin. You are on the right track…. you know it… you just gotta believe in yourself.”

There are too many obstacles, roadblocks, and dangers on this road. I have to keep the wind at my back, or I’ll falter. There are too many other options, too many other people’s well-intended recommendations, too much of society’s expectations to have to contend with, and if I don’t got my own, then I’ll get lost in all of this.

I’ll lose my way, not because I doubted myself–I didn’t even give myself the chance to experience any doubt at all–because I didn’t take the very first act of courage: believing in myself.

You may think it’s elementary, but it’s vital. Everyone in this world can believe in you, but if you don’t, you just can’t make it. They’ll be too much in your way. Something far too large, insurmountable, gruesome, and unforgiving will block you. That something will be you. There’s no one far more bent on your destruction and unhappiness than you. But you are counting on the fact that you won’t realize this.

The hope is, once you do realize this fact, you can brush yourself aside, believe in yourself, and constantly remind yourself that it is this practice of believing in yourself that is more important than becoming a multitasking, efficient, jack-of-all-trades, 21st Century Machine. Keep the practice of believing in yourself daily, don’t drop it. It’s far more important than any exercise routine.  You’re ability to live this life with joy will depend on it.

The “I Believe In Myself” Pledge

So, in honor of today’s practice in self-belief:

I, Ollin, believe in myself. And, one day, somewhere over the rainbow, my dreams will come true.

And so will yours.

Oh and by the way, since we’re talking about it…

I believe in you, too

much cheesy,

Ollin

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17 comments on “Why Believing In Yourself Is More Important (And Less Cheesy) Than You Think

  1. shaquandad says:

    I understand what you mean, Ollin. There’s been days when my family would ask me what I’m going to college for and when I tell them I’m majoring in creative writing they ask, “what can you do with that ?” I think the hardest part of having a dream is proving to other people your dream isn’t crazy.

    Thanks for the post Ollin and I do believe in myself🙂

    Shaquanda
    Learnasyouwrite.com

    • Ollin says:

      “I think the hardest part of having a dream is proving to other people your dream isn’t crazy.”

      Brilliant, Shaquanda. Maybe you should write a post about it on your blog and elaborate on it? I think it would resonate with many of us, haha!

  2. […] I often have this conversation with a best friend of mine. We both agree that the problem of our generation is not that we don’t have any opportunities, it’s really that we have too many. There are way too many options and there are way too many people telling us to take advantage of them. They seem to be saying, “You better make the right choice, choose the right opportunity, be the right person, because you only got one shot. And it’ll be gone before you know it.”  […]

  3. l0ve0utl0ud says:

    A truly AMAZING article! I agree with you 100%. We have so many opportunities and we are made to believe that we can make it in any field, in any project, in ANYTHING, if we try. We start thinking that we should go out there and take all these wonderful opportunities, because we are so lucky to have them. Yet, at the same time, something is stopping us from going out there and taking over the world. I guess deep inside we know that our passion and our Divine Purpose is something other than what we are expected to be doing and achieving. For me, just like for you, my Divine Purpose is writing.

    • Ollin says:

      “I guess deep inside we know that our passion and our Divine Purpose is something other than what we are expected to be doing and achieving.”

      That is spot on! We have to stop listening to everyone else. Only we know what we truly want. Only we know what we truly love. What else would god want for us? Why would he put that love there in the first place if it wasn’t true, or if it wasn’t what we were meant to pursue?

  4. Lynn Stillwood says:

    I found your blog by googling “My Best Isn’t Good Enough.” Your article on that topic helped me feel better about my current job as a Project Manager. Imagine how delighted I was to find out that this is an inspirational blog not only about life but about writing! I may be employed in the technical corporate world for my day job, but there’s always been a part of me that longs to return to my childhood favorite past times writing and art.

    At the same time, this article makes me feel better about not being able to do and pursue it all at once. I want to write, draw, run, do pilates, bike, hike, win at video games, win at board games, travel, get promoted at my job, help recruit more people, be a better wife, be a better pet owner, volunteer, be a better cook, be a better friend, be a better speaker, learn how to be a leader (oh and be more concise and to the point on top of all of that –oops).

    A lot of my friends that are around my age are the same way. Many are engineers and they want to build, design and fix everything, figure out how and why everything works, figure out how to do things faster, more efficiently with better quality and for less money. I’m always telling my husband and friends — in theory you could do all of those things if you had infinite amounts of time. In practice, I don’t believe we can do *everything* ourselves, without the help of anyone or anything else. It’s something I should remind myself just as much as I remind my friends and husband.

    So without rambling any further, I want to thank you so much for your blog! It has really inspired me to accept where I am right now and think about where I can go from here.

    • Ollin says:

      I’m so happy to hear you’ve found the blog helpful, Lynn. Make sure to peruse the archives (you can do so in the bottom of the side bar) there is actually a lot there that I think would benefit you, including a post on how to prioritize your dreams: How To Prioritize Your Dreams So You Can Finally Make Some REAL Progress On Them.

  5. I am probably 3 times your age. I have been a person who has always listened to my heart and followed it. That being said, I have also always been open to the knowledge that there is no ONE answer. The “right” choice is the one that meets my needs today. With that comes the faith that it is laying the groundwork for the next “right” choice. I do not envy the 20-Somethings. I would not want to be that age again.

    • Ollin says:

      “That being said, I have also always been open to the knowledge that there is no ONE answer. The “right” choice is the one that meets my needs today. With that comes the faith that it is laying the groundwork for the next “right” choice.”

  6. I enjoyed your post. Strangely enough, you speak of quarter life. I am at the almost over the hill part of life and beginning again after over forty years of marriage and the death of my spouse. I think everyone in any quarter of their life needs to embrace this message (cheesy or not)🙂

  7. RD Meyer says:

    If you don’t believe in yourself, it’s a pretty good bet that no one else will either.

  8. Katie says:

    This is just a jolt of encouragement, plain and simple. We all need this, every single person that reads it- even if they don’t know it, it’s needed. Thank you for such wonderful writing!

    I believe in you too, Ollin! Even more cheese! (:

  9. […] Why Believing in Yourself is More Important (and Less Cheesy) Than You Think by Courage 2 […]

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