Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Dealing with self doubt

Sometimes when it's late at night, usually when the house is quite and I'm sitting at my computer working by the light of the screen that the self doubt demons creep in. They whisper to me 'you're a horrid photographer', 'you don't know what you're doing'. They love to taunt 'would you look at that photograph? You call that horizon straight?!'. They make me go and look at other photographer's websites, further driving home their point about me photography skills, and lack there of.

It's so hard not to listen, and all of a sudden I find myself in the swampy waters of self doubt. If I don't do something about it, I would surely drown.

I don't prescribe to all that crap about using self-doubt to drive you forwards and make you better. Erm, yeah, whatever. They've obviously never met my self-doubt. Mine is paralising, and has me convinced that I don't even know how to turn a camera on. I've read all about self-doubt being only natural, that everyone goes through it, that I'm not alone. Again, so not helpful. Knowing that everyone doubts themselves just makes me believe in the old primary school adage of 'majority rules'.

To deal with it I give myself a reality check. I tell myself the following two things -

1. When you started photography, your photos were awful.
2. You're better than you were then.


By not comparing myself to others, but comparing what I used to be like to what am now works. It eliminates all others from the equation, and makes my own work the bench mark. It makes me feel so much better to know that I've improved. If I really need pulling out of the self-doubt swamp I'll even go back to my first blog posts to look at the photos (and there are some stinkers!).

Telling myself these two simple things reminds me that I'm moving foward. No, I may not yet be the best photographer in the world, and that I'm actually not even close to that, but I'm better than I used to be. So that gives me hope that I will continue to grow, learn, develop and take better photographs. It reminds me that so far the only way has been up, so why should that change now?

Try it, next time the self-doubt devil comes to haunt you. And tell it hi from me.

* Meaghan

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Belinda Cook January 19, 2011 at 8:59 PM  

I love this Meaghan! Something close to my own heart and so very wise, I'll definately be taking this on board. BTW, everytime I see your blog header it makes me smile :-)

Anonymous January 19, 2011 at 9:06 PM  

Oh bless, you are a brilliant photog. Didn't you listen to my message yesterday- your website gives me goosebumps! Your pics are divine and you are very talented.
I have a friend who kept getting promotion after promotion in her chosen industry and her response each time was 'one day they will all realise.' haha
Self doubt- just a part of life isn't it l guess.
Jodi x

Bianca January 19, 2011 at 9:09 PM  

Meaghan, I honestly beleive you can read my mind. So often you post things that are so relevant to me at that time. I think we all feel self doubt, I think its healthy because it makes us aware that we can grow, we then go out in search of more, push the boudaries, learn and absorb. If we all thought we were fabulous we would get stuck in a rut, never feeling the need to grow or get better. This hits home with me today more than any other day. Thank you for putting your heart out for all to see. Luv you to bits and your blog header makes Colin and I giggle every time as well. I love it so much!
P.S You are awesome. You know I think that. I am your number one fan, keep up the awesome, inspiring work xx

gemma higgins-sears January 19, 2011 at 9:11 PM  

true words, from a true artist. I don't think anyone can call themselves one if they don't have the same thoughts once a year, a month, a week, a day... it's what keeps us real, and striving for better. (or so i tell myself when I wake up from self doubt...)


Anonymous January 19, 2011 at 9:15 PM  

Moments of self-doubt are like J-curves: you must go down before you come back up, way up.

To pretend that these moments are otherwise is to mock life's little alphabet.

At a fork in the road? The letter Y. Keeping doing the same things over and over? The letter O. Not quite making it back to that place you really liked? The letter C. Moments of self-doubt? Our friend, J.

The best bit? Once we're done with the curvy bit in our self-doubt, the road to new heights is straight ahead.

Your words are wise and honest. Ta :-)

Katie K January 19, 2011 at 10:16 PM  

So true, and beautifully written. Thank you. x

LK January 19, 2011 at 10:28 PM  

I like to think that self doubts make us grow. Without it there is no motivation to do better. Anyway, self doubt or not, Meaghan your work inspires me. Btw, I agree with Bel that your blog header image makes me smile!

Steve Elmer January 19, 2011 at 10:34 PM  

The self doubt in your mind LIES! Never listen to it. Only pay attention to the part that says your AWESOME!

Seona Mercer January 19, 2011 at 11:09 PM  

Change the voices in your head, make them like you instead.

You're awesome.

a very touching post, and I too, love your blog header image.

much love to you

S x

susan wall January 19, 2011 at 11:28 PM  

Meaghan, you are an inspiration. You are beautiful!

Kristen Cook January 19, 2011 at 11:42 PM  

Oh Meaghan, who doesn't? I don't know of anyone that doesn't feel this about something in their life - it's called being human. You are worthy of your clients x

Sarah January 20, 2011 at 2:27 AM  

Ah the evil self doubt... I have a feeling we may all suffer, but we aren't all as brave as to put it out there in such a public forum.

Hurrah for you! And for the rest of us who know the feeling oh so well, yet continue to follow our dreams...

Mine is the fear that someone will tap me on the shoulder and say, hello, you're in the wrong life, you have to go back now...eeeeekkkk!

It hasn't happened yet so I'm making the most of the exciting journey :-)

Thanks Meaghan!

Bel January 20, 2011 at 6:39 AM  

Technicality obviously has it's place, but if you can't capture moments that make peoples hearts flutter or bring a tear to the eye, what's the point! You always manage to get the 'moments'and for that you should be proud of! x

Sharon Mallin January 20, 2011 at 7:27 AM  

Self doubt is a right royal PITA lol and I agree it is what can help us grow if we turn that doubt into motivation and inspiration. Isnt always easy though.

I love this post - thank you for the reminder about how to overcome it. It is something we all go through from time to time I think. x

Nicole Ramsay January 20, 2011 at 9:37 AM  

Thank you. Thank you. Your insight was just what I needed to here. God, I have self doubt every other week. I'm going to try your tatics! You rock - tell your self that. xx

Anonymous January 20, 2011 at 1:42 PM  

yes something we all go thru.. something we all struggle with but with your wise words something that maybe next time it will make us stop and think of your two things.. Thankyou... tanya Tindale

Alisha January 20, 2011 at 1:50 PM  

Hi Meaghan, I THINK that when i was in Yr 7 at Notre Dame you were in year 12, I'm pretty sure I remember you in your blue jumper at assembly. Anyway, I love looking at your photos and reading your blogs and I think you are an amazing photographer. You really do a great job and you should be proud of everything you have achieved so far, not many people take their passion and turn it into a career. Thanks for the photos :) Alisha Edwards

Sarah Bowen January 21, 2011 at 7:06 AM  

Fantastic post Meaghan, thanks for having the guts to share it and a big Ditto to all of the above!!

Kim Selby January 24, 2011 at 10:22 PM  

Beautifully written Meaghan - it's nice to know I'm not alone! Thank you for sharing. You are one fabulous lady! xx

Di March 14, 2011 at 2:15 AM  

Thanks for this. Much needed lately. Shall try it.


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