Ye, Though I Walk Through The Valley Of The Shadow Of Death: Thoughts On Losing Confidence In A Dream

Lately, I've been asking myself if I'm a fiction writer anymore. It's the strangest question to me because I've been creating stories since I was 7 years old. In some ways, I understand where this may be coming from. I have been exploring other forms of writing in my adult years. I truly believe that I am so much more than just a girl who just makes up stories now. Still, I have been questioning if I can even write fiction at all anymore. This is not something that I have ever experienced before. It was discovered very early on that I had a love for the art of writing. Thanks to Mrs. (or Ms. I can't remember) Bailey, I learned to brainstorm and write my first story in 2nd grade. If education did nothing else for me, it opened me up to my greatest passion! People always say I'm smart. The biggest compliment that my Mom ever paid me was to tell me that she always thought that I had a brilliant mind. The truth is, I don't consider myself to be the book smart. I mean, is being book smart really even all that important anyway? I was never the 4.0 student in school. With the exception of grad school, I've been through all of the forms of education. I don't know how I made it through all of it... but somehow God graced me to walk across a stage and get a college degree. Everything that I learned from K-college is one big blur. I do believe that I'm smart. I'm just not the always the most studious person. I had a couple mini meltdowns about grades when I was in college... but nothing shook my soul like when I had a professor tried to play me like I couldn't write. I was somewhere near being a senior at the time. I NEVER in my life thought I was going to lose my mind (over school) like I did in that moment. We even kind of had words about it in their office. I'm not sure that I ever let a professor have it like that before. This was not my first encounter with this professor. I'd actually taken a class with them before. Please note: I was never really criticized for my writing when I was actually taking their class. I honestly really enjoyed the class. Somehow, when we had to turn in our portfolios for the end of the semester, mine was the only one to be "lost" in the shuffle. I kind of let it go because I didn't think I really needed it at the time. Somehow, I ended up losing the disc that had all of the work from the portfolio on it. When I inquired about the portfolio from my professor again, it was still "lost". So... fast forward about two years to me and this person having to work together again. It wasn't really for a class. It was more like meetings for them to help me with my graduating portfolio. I didn't have much of a choice in working with this person again either (in case you're wondering why I would ever work with them again). It's a really long story... but I ended up having to go to the English department on them for a thing or two (one being my missing portfolio). One of our main issues was that I needed prior writing pieces (that just need to be polished up) to use for my graduating portfolio. While I understand that my disc got lost in the shuffle of my life, I also knew that this person owed me back my work. I was literally having to try to come up with new original pieces (while taking 17 credit hours that semester). You would think this would prompt this person to FIND the work that they supposedly lost. But no... I ended up just using some random essays and articles I'd done instead. This was not what I wanted (as my other work was fiction and my "childlike poems"... hahaha) but I had no choice. I ended up staying at school a semester longer (not due to that). Upon coming back to school that Fall, my portfolio was mysteriously "found" while the professor was cleaning. Cleaning. Not it was found because they actually dug around to look for it... they were just cleaning and it appeared. I'd love to know where it was buried for two years that the rest of the students portfolios were not. How did it even get separated from the rest of the bunch? Funny what a call to a professor from the English department can accomplish. I mean, maybe they really "lost" it...who am I to judge. Hahaha. It just makes me wonder if that professor really thought I was a bad writer at all. It also shows how important writing really is to me... I can remember exactly where I was on campus when I really started to lose my mind over what they said to me. Hahaha.

The praise for my writing has not been this constant thing in my in life. For me, writing was more of this hobby & dream that I had. From a little kid, I was sitting down plotting out a book. Thinking about that now seems so crazy. I really had a chapter list and everything going for my first "major" project idea. I've literally been walking around with notebooks and dreams for most of my life. However, it was the insistences like being sent to the principal's office in 3rd grade to show him my story (my teacher allowed me to work on that story all day... they seemed to be excited about it). It was having my high school English teacher single me out and ask me if I really wrote the story I had to turn in for an assignment. This guy was no joke either. I always thought that he secretly wanted to be a college professor. When he told me (and only me... out of the whole class) my work was good, I took it as a huge compliment. In one of my classes, I would let some of the girls read chapters from this book that I was working on as a teen. They would seriously read my stuff and be excited for me to write the next chapters. Once, someone got a hold of my notebook and left me an anonymous note telling me that my stories were good. One of the stories in the infamous portfolio that was "lost" was one that I showed some of my peeps. They all seemed to love it. A couple of them told me that they didn't really read... but they could not stop reading my story. Even during my beginning blog years, there were so many kind words and compliments. Some people even gave me blog awards! :) I recount all of this not to brag (maybe a little about my hs moment... hahaha. I'm actually just really proud of that moment). It's just to say that these moments of validation paired with God and a deep desire is what has kept me going all of this time.

Something happens to you as you get older. I can't put this on everyone... but it makes me look at people older than me with a certain compassion. I find that my confidence level has been seriously challenged in my 30's. I am a VERY confident person. I'm confident to the point that people have accused me of being stuck up at times. I'm not really a person who throws things in people's faces. I just love myself. I don't know where this confidence came from. I've been like this since I was little. I KNOW that God gave me my confidence because He knew my life before I did. Trust me... I NEEDED this confidence. I could almost liken it to a superhero shield of protection. It's almost like nothing can truly ever break me. That being said, I am also the chick that cheers others on. I have learned that everyone has their own path in life. I used to want to try to put everyone on mine (or make everyone think like me). I truly love others and want to see them do well. Sometimes, I feel misunderstood (especially when I was younger), but I try to be genuine person out here in these streets. Hahaha. When Demi came out with "Confident", I was like: "where was this when I was younger?" I could kind of question if some of my confidence has been mixed with defense mechanisms at times. I think that when I was younger, I also was not as openly "affectionate" so that my have put a different spin on my demeanor as well. Once most people would get to know me... they always think that I was so nice. I feel like I'm writing all of this whole "explanation" because I am still so deeply scarred by how I have been viewed at times. As you can see, I'm still dealing with it. Hahaha.

Anyway... in my 30's I find that my confidence is challenged by a few things. Getting older makes you start to feel like your life is slipping through your fingers. I read this book called "Once Upon A Midlife" that talked about how when you are younger you go out into the world feeling like you are this hero that can conquer the world (not verbatim... but you know). They also made the point that as you get older, you become more accepting of the good and evil that comes with life. Not that you take on the evil, but life is gonna be life. We are strong through God, but even the bible promises rain. No one is completely indestructible. It kind of makes me think about Batman V Superman. I saw somewhere that they were describing that particular of version Bruce Wayne as being tired (and maybe bit hardened) by all of the evil in the world. His demeanor was a bit more gruff to me this time around. I really connected with this theory as I was watching the movie. I feel like that is what it's like as you get older (at least for me). I still am so ready to save the world... but I see that even I can't escape some hardships. There are some people that we cannot always save. Life just never stops with it's antics. Yet, all the while time is slipping by. You really start to question your whole existence sometimes. I also feel like you just get tired. When I was younger, I was nonstop. Now, I get tired of running and trying. I find that I take more little breaks. Things are just not as easy to shake off as they used to be. It's different when you are fighting the world vs. fighting the world... AND yourself. I think that this weariness you find within yourself can cause a lack of confidence as well. You start to wonder if you really can achieve those goals. Do you really have what it takes to keep running the race? I feel like I have come to the crossroads that perhaps some of the older generations have come to. I can either fold... or I can keep fighting. I've have witnessed what folding does to a soul. That is not something that I want for myself at all.

Last weekend, I was in my bathroom (I find that a lot of revelations come to me in the bathroom. I think it is the whole cleansing and being in the water thing) when I heard my internal thoughts say something like: "are you nuts?! You have had stories living inside of you for YEARS and you think you are no longer a fiction writer???" It was like I was snapped back into reality real quick. Even though it sucks, I am glad to go through these valleys in life. I feel like it makes me more human and relatable. I think that bouncing back from failure and doubt is actually better than having a whole lifetime of victories (does anyone really have that)? Sometimes, you doubt yourself... and that is perfectly okay. I find that even when you feel like you are losing yourself, you always come back so much stronger.

I think that sometimes you just have to know that you know. You literally have to shut everyone (including yourself) and everything out. You have to say: "I really don't care about your opinion". I think that you should always listen to what people say and sift it out. All criticism is not bad or malicious. Nevertheless, you can't care what everybody thinks. You can't always care how you feel. Sometimes, you must tell yourself off. I actually do this. I don't mean negative self talk. I mean talk to yourself how you would talk to a friend who is being foolish. I think that there is a difference in being delusional and being doubtful. Like, if I had been told my whole life that I sucked at writing... well... maybe I'd rethink this. If I never seen myself accomplish things that I never thought I could... maybe I'd hide in a corner until the end of time. The process of a lot of things is never easy. Longevity does not come without seasons. Seasons don't come without ugly days. In fact, some seasons just suck for that year period. To achieve things, you sometimes just have to have this out of your mind... out of your body experience. I call this floating. Life can be so scary because it is not always immediately understandable. Sometimes, you just have keep going and hope that it all means something someday.

I'm not really sure if that scripture (in the title) really means actual death. I know they read it at funerals. I've always that "the shadow of death" could mean death chasing you. Anyway, I thought it was a cool title for when dreams try to flat line on you.

One of my favorite songs for fighting doubt:

Love you!



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