#21 - I Don't Know What I'm Doing

I don't know what I'm doing.

There are times when I feel like a little girl all dressed up in her mom's dress with a huge necklace down to her knees, clomping around in shoes 10 sizes too big with lipstick smeared across her face.

Here I am, a 30 year old woman in her 13th year of marriage with four children, and I still feel like a child.

I look around me at all the people who seem so confident and competent and seem to have everything together, and I wonder if they feel as lost as I do.

This feeling is especially prevalent when it comes to my writing. I read so many books that leave me in awe, and then I look at my own writing and wonder who I'm kidding.

I want to write something meaningful, profound, inspiring, uplifting, or at least helpful or worthwhile in some way. I have this high-follutin dream (By the way, is high-follutin even a word? Am I misspelling it so badly that the spell checker can't even recognize it?) Anyway, I have this high-follutin dream of writing the next "great American novel", something that readers for generations will read and love. But I wonder if that's even within the realm of possibility for me. I'd say it's not, but there's this tiny voice inside me that says anything is possible.

So, that's me. In a nutshell, I feel like Jerry Seinfeld trying to pass himself off as President Hinckley. Sooner or later, everyone will see I'm a fraud.


  1. I remember a commercial - I believe it was for Fred Meyer - which mentioned that every parent harbored the fear some day their kids would figure out they didn't know what they were doing, and they were nothing more than a "phoney-baloney in a mommy or daddy suit."

    And man, I laughed at that, because I have always feared people would some day see through the competent, brave face I try so hard to show, knowing full well it's just a big sham.

    How 'bout a deal - I won't tell if you won't.

  2. It's a deal. :) Thanks for your comment. It helps to know I'm not the only one on the planet who feels that way. ;)

  3. I think you're being too hard on yourself. All of us have writers who we aspire to be like. I am constantly looking for ways to improve my writing. So don't give up and don't be so hard on yourself.

  4. We all feel this way about aspects of our lives. I'm always feeling like a failure about motherhood and also about having any hobbies or accomplishments. At least you have a hobby you love! Hold to that. I'm still trying to find a hobby I love. But it's at times like these, that I love quotes to build myself up and I have a few for you.

    It's not who you are that holds you back, it's who you think you're not. ~Author Unknown

    If you hear a voice within you say "you cannot paint," then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced. ~Vincent Van Gogh

    Learning too soon our limitations, we never learn our powers. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960

    Our ordinary mind always tries to persuade us that we are nothing but acorns and that our greatest happiness will be to become bigger, fatter, shinier acorns; but that is of interest only to pigs. Our faith gives us knowledge of something better: that we can become oak trees. ~E.F. Schumacher

    And my very favorite...
    Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. ~Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love

  5. It's highfalutin, but it's kind of silly that we worry about spelling a word that probably originated in communities where people couldn't spell, isn't it? :)

    On to the main subject, I know how you feel about your work. I was reading through some of my favorite poets last night and was amazed and astonished by their skill. Usually that makes me cower in a corner and feel embarrassment over what I write but, last night, I thought, you know what? It's true -- I'm not good in the same way they are good. But their sheer skill comes with practice and revision, which I can do. And I don't want to sound like them; I write because I love it and I want to sound like me. Just because my poetry isn't like theirs doesn't mean it isn't poetry or that it isn't good. I'll learn from them and still do it my own way. So go for it. Write a lot, read a lot, and you can't help but get results. And no one ever feels like they are great at something, unless they aren't. Greatness comes from love and striving to realize that love of something.
    Do you think President Hinckley feels like he's just amazingly spiritual? Somehow I doubt ...

  6. Remember that those who wrote the "great American novels" didn't just sit down one day and write it. They almost always wrote several others and edited it until the cows came home.

    You may have to "kiss a lot of frogs" in order to find your prince - meaning you may have to write several books, good or not, until you find your great American novel.:) But keep writing (and keep kissing). :)

  7. Ah, don't be so hard on yourself. We all have feelings of inadequacies the heroes are the ones who push forward anyway. So hang in there, you can do it!

    On a lighter note. Today is the day of our Blogger Babe lunch at Golden Corral in Orem. 1:00 - hope to see you there.

  8. Hi Jennifer, I found your blog from the BFL blog and was reading through it a little. You amaze me with your writing talent, and I know this post is a little old, but as I was reading through it I couldn't help but leave a comment. I often feel the same as you. I often have no idea what I am doing! But I have this passage out of "The Secret", and just wanted to share it with you

    "If you do a little research, it is going to become evident to you that anyone who accomplished anything, did not know how they were going to do it. They only knew they were going to do it."

    ps- if you have no idea who I am. It is Stephanie from accross the street.


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