The Shield Of Confidence

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In 2004 I graduated with a 3.89 GPA from one of the highest rated private colleges on the west coast.  And I did so, while parenting eight children, six of whom had some kind of special need.  My final semester I managed 25 credits at two different colleges, picking up some missing credits at the local community college so I could complete my B.A. in the four year time slot I’d given myself.

I’m smart.  I’m capable.  I’m a survivor…and I know this about myself.  Without doubt. I feel good about my accomplishments and I’m proud of who I am. I say that…with confidence.

And yet, on a daily basis, I question myself.  I experience self-doubt over everything.  And I continually assume people are looking down on me for something, anything, everything.

It’s called self-value and though most days I feel quite solid, the smallest, most meaningless comment from someone…even a stranger…brings up in me once again, that lack of confidence I carried as my shield and crutch, for so many years.

It has been my constant companion, these four decades, and I’m tired of it.

I don’t dress fancy. I don’t own a dress. I don’t spend more than sixteen seconds on my hair and my mascara tube has long ago dried up.  And more often than not, I’ve coffee dribbled down the front of my shirt just seconds before walking into a meeting, like I did this morning.  My words don’t come out the way I want them to and I worry I sound “backwoods” when I speak.  My thoughts, though they make perfect sense inside my head, often come from my mouth in seemingly some illogical jumble of miscommunication and I wonder if I sound like the incompetent child that is hiding inside.

And then I want to crawl back into the hole of hiding, behind the shield of protection I carry, where nobody can judge me and where I can again, feel good about myself.

I wonder, as do so many I hope, how to heal those old scars.  How to finally feel like a “grown-up”.  How to place myself on an even plane with the rest of the world.

It’s interesting, actually, how others seem to ooze self confidence while I pretend to do the same, all the while feeling like a little girl dressed in her mother’s high heels, playing grownup and hoping nobody notices I’m not what I pretend to be.  I’m wondering how long before the world catches on that I’m really just twelve, in a grown-up shell, still lost and floundering, not knowing what I want to be when I grow up.

And I say these things not so people will tell me good things, or pump my ego with cry’s of support.  I say them because they are real, these annoyances of self-doubt that run my life.  They are inside me…and I wonder if I’m the only one.

Tell me I’m not the only fairly successful, confident person out there who struggles with this.  Tell me, now that I’m in my forty’s, that this will go away!

Tell me…I’m not crazy!



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129 Responses to "The Shield Of Confidence"
  1. alison says:

    you are my hero. i strive to be as selfless and giving as you are. i also gave up on being a “real” adult a few years back, so you may want to take that with a grain of salt. i have 3.5 “adult” friends on any given day, but ALL of my kids friends adore me. not because of my appearance or because of the degrees i have (lets swap affirmation stories later), but because i listen, i play in the mud, i relate to them.

    you are homeschooling because your kids don’t fit the mold (no one’s really do), so why do you expect that you will? maybe what we ought to be doing is questioning who got to decide what it means to be an adult and maybe give them a swirly for inventing pantyhose. just kidding of course. but seriously, when did we allow someone else to determine what we are worth based on our ability to stay clean (or drink only clear liquids that won’t stain)?

    kids are struggling because they don’t have life skills, they don’t know how to think for themselves, and the certainly don’t know how to build their own cabins. you have opened your heart and your home to kids that others turn a blind eye to and helped them achieve. you are compassionate and funny and smart. i could go on for hours about the amazing work you are doing, and how i wish we weren’t a gagillion miles apart so i could take you out for coffee and thank you in person for just being awesome you. and if we both spill it down the front of ourselves, well… so what? (-:

    alison in pa

  2. Laura says:

    Your not crazy! Thanks for writing what I often feel.

  3. Sarah E. says:

    Hunny my twelve year old self refuses to leave and let the grown up out as well! We have 7 kids that are yours, mine, and ours, and I run from one end of the world (or at least my world) on a daily basis and no matter how organized and careful I am, I am always wearing my coffee, someone is always dressed in clothes that don’t match or the shirt I told them to change, and I’m always running late. I talk when I’m nervous, and always put my foot in my mouth. I’m sure the rest of the world has figured out that I’m an idiot, they are just not telling me yet! But I can laught at myself, my husband has no intention of going anywhere, ever, and my kids are healthy and usually willing admit that they have a great mom whom they love! It takes a little crazy to survive these days, and those other “adults” that ooze self-confidence are nothing but POSERS who paint on a thicker fascade than we do!!!

  4. Jenn says:

    omg…thank you for this post.  I am 42 this year…and still feel this way…

    I am a loooong way from high school.  And for years and years, I did not feel this way.  I worked in offices (many), had my own home, was relatively happy….

    You know what has brought me back to this?  Having kids.  And watching as they struggle with bullies and insecurities and making friends at school.  And then dealing with my kids’ friends mothers.  It’s like high school all over again.  Only this time, I can see these women for what they are…that one is a bully, that one over there is a gossip and not my friend although she pretended until she got all the info she could out of me….

    I’d like to fade back into obsurity and just go about my merry way again….but I have my kids.  And I need to be there for them and teach them how to wade through and learn to protect themselves….

  5. Frances says:

    When you feel your weakest or most unworthy, that is when you shine the
    brightest. It is important to know that strength is not judged by the way you
    talk or how you look. It is how you are and how in one moment though words may fail you, you are still able to protect others when their voice or abilities are at their weakest and they are not able to stand up for themselves. If you feel weak, I bet it is those
    moments that your children feel the safest. Sort of like the fight or flight
    syndrome….and I am sure you may have had a flight or two in your time but when it comes to your
    children I bet your one hell of a ring master.(yep, though as a rule I don’t gamble I would put 5$ bucks on you)  Please remember your insecurities are gifts ( I can hear you now…”Well, Hell it is like Freaking Christmas every day then!” 😉
    They keep you grounded and able to focus harder on painting a picture for
    others to understand.They make you stronger and the blessings are because of these things your children will and have learned to be stronger and find diffrent ways to comunicate.

    You are an artist of words. though you may feel
    them inept compared to others, Look at your blog. It is through your words that
    you have found a way to bridge states and countries and bring a mass of people
    together who would have never otherwise have met.  Then make them feel
    even if for a moment there is a place with a woman, who is amazing. She shares so much, her triumphs, her heartaches, her hopes and dreams, her children and her life as a whole.
    Your not perfect..but..your you.
    A mom. A wife. A woman. A teacher, a dreamer, a Dr., Tooth fairy and….~insert drum roll~
    Someone that is just trying to make it in the everyday life of living. (don’t
    faint!) Your human. We still love you because who you are as a whole. Life isn’t about being perfect…take the day for what it is and nothing more. Torrow will come fast enough as will the worries.

  6. Vickie says:

    Your achievements are yours. It doesn’t matter how you dress or if you wear makeup – these are the bits & parts that makeup someone else’s version of ‘self’. To those who love you, depend upon you, and so many more – you just ARE. Inadequacies follow each of us. It’s easy to look at someone who has THE look – makeup, perfect body, perfect hair, etc. These people are still cringing inside hoping to be accepted. One of the most essential of all human emotions is the innate need to be liked & accepted. This validation is fleeting to grasp & so many of us are left floundering for a way to measure it in dollars, things, friends, social events, etc. In the end, your value cannot be measured the same way for success as, say, a single teen, a politician, or whoever you might have recently compared yourself too and felt lacking.

    Yes, all this is said as I, too, cringe & wonder if I’m liked/accepted, etc. My recent graduation is much like yours – I take from it a personal achievement for a goal I set for myself. Take the time to remind yourself of who you were & what your thoughts were at the beginning of your journey. I’m sure that earlier “you” would be very proud of the “you” you are now. 🙂

  7. God Family Food Politics says:

    Well darn…. I’m 27 and I was thinking those feelings were probably going to go away soon…. No?

  8. Guest1231 says:

    I have a doctorate degree, passed the State bar with flying colors, am 46 years old and parenting a 13 year old Asbergers child whose bio mother chose to smoke pot and drink alcohol while this perfect little person was developing in her womb, an 11 year old who has the soul of a 60 year old  and a 9 year old who thinks I am 10 feet tall, bullet proof and and the last American hero.  I have long ago reached the point where I became a parent to my parents and at 45 became an orphan. I have done daring, stupid things and survived to tell the tale. Yet I struggle everyday with these same thoughts. I live in a small town and feel as though I am an “outcast” because I am not good enough. Good enough for what I do not know. When I go to church or work, I feel like others are judging my clothes as I assume I have always worn the wrong thing. I wear very little makeup because I am sure I apply it incorrectly. And my favorite hairstyle is to pull my red and gray tresses back in a pony tail. I am most comfortable in a pair of jeans, sweatshirt, baseball cap and cowboy boots and hanging out with the kids and horses. The horses never judge and love me like I am. Just like my resuce german shepherd and resuce tuxedo cats. They just love me and expect very little in return. They don’t “look down their nose at me”. They don’t talk about me negatively when I leave the room. And if I make a mistake, they pretend not to notice. So no, you are NOT the only one. The root of this problem escapes me. You have wonderful incite so maybe you have that puzzle solved. But you are not alone. I am here struggling too.
    But what I do try to do is make sure my children are infused with self confidence. I want them to never have to feel this daily struggle. The 11 year old will jump on anything and never let it get the best of him. If he falls off or is thrown off, he gets back on and keeps getting back on until he masters the situation. And my 9 year old is something else too. It gives her such self confidence to balance her 60lb body on a 1500lb horse and make him do what she wants him to do.   The 13 year old is terrified of going out in public, suffers from audio input overload, has frequent anxiety attacks. Has violent outburst triggered by unknown and unseen things. But recently, he has learned to hug and he smiles and giggles when he does it. Hugs are no longer painful for him. We are still working on the eye contact but maybe that will come with time.  When I look at them, I think, maybe I am not such a failure after all. Maybe I am okay.
    Recently I have developed the thought process that in a couple of years, I will have attained an age where I just will not care. But I doubt that. I have a feeling this battle will continue.
    I do love the way your words speak to my heart. You certainly have a way with words that is more than just communication.

    • Until I wrote this post and read all the responses, I assumed that my inferiority complex would heal itself and I would one day be a giant of confidence! I imagined myself reaching that pivotal age where I didn’t give a flying crap about anyone else’s opinion. And now….all hope is gone! Apparently I’m stuck like this for life! hhahahaa
      You seem very accomplished…and I agree with you that finding out a way to improve upon our children makes up for our own feelings of self lacking…

  9. Rene Shepard says:

    I told my step sister that sometimes I feel like a bar of chocolate and the whole world is a woman, everybody loves me and life is wonderful. Other times I feel like the world is a butthole and im what’s coming out. She said “Rene, you just gave a the classic description of bipolar syndrome”. She gave me a book, I went to the national bipolar website,,  and took their test, on a test that said if you scored 6 or 7 yes you might be bipolar, I scored like 47 out of 50. Did a ton of research found out that caffien, b vitamin deficiency, magnesium deficiency and sunlight deficiency can all contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety. I’ve since quit drinking coffee, changed it up for a b and ginsing pomegranate tea, a few other supplements and fish oil and I get sunlight when I can, at least 10 to 15 minutes a day. A sunlight might help in your situation. 

    As a side effect of taking the fish oil, 3000 mg a day.. I have these fatty cysts, they are a genetic anomaly inherited from my mom’s grand dad, once I started getting the fish oil at least 3 or 4 times a week, they started dissolving. Some I’ve had for 20+ years are almost gone. 

    I still have issues with pcos, poly cystic ovarian syndrome, but the symptoms are decreasing.

    Not saying you are in any way bipolar, however, feelings of anxiety, depression, lack of self worth when you are accomplished, lauded and loved can be a problem. Not the least of which is an inability to just sit back and enjoy the moment. 

    I hope you will take a moment of your busy life and check into what Im saying, you cant take care of all those kids if you aren’t taking care of yourself too.



  10. Ari C'rona says:

    You’re not crazy – the only people I know that don’t feel that way are extremely self-centered and amazingly arrogant.

  11. Anabellajane says:

    having 8 children to look after and still managed to get such a good pointer was amazing…

  12. So, so many of us feel the same way, based on your comments. Other people, friends, strangers, etc tell me all the time they can’t believe how I manage to do what I do with all my kiddos and college classes, blah blah blah. I try to remember that there is always gonna be people better off than me, just like there are ones worse off than me: I am right where “I” am supposed to be. I push myself to do better despite being told I shouldn’t or can’t. I enjoy the praise and try to forget the insults. I frequently ask myself who the hell thought I could handle all this. And a friend will always remind me that I can handle it, and I do handle it, and I do it well. I am a lost 14yo in a 35yo’s body, crazy and proud of it. Crazy= Creative! Who else sees a branch and envisions art? Who else sees a kid and envisions a different sort of masterpiece there as well? You do. Keep on being you, crazy, creative, and all!

  13. Frahn says:

    You aren’t crazy, darling, this is my exact story. ( unless we’re both crazy?)
    Apparently I come across to others as together and confident and in charge, yet nobody knows what it sometimes costs me to step out and be with others. I’d rather pull up the drawbridge and live my sorry life through non-stop reading.

    I don’t write, because I don’t believe anyone would want to read why I write…yada yada yada…

    You’d be surprised the number of creative, intelligent and lively people who have secret self-doubt, just like you, and don’t feel grown-up! Hang in there, sista!

  14. Rae says:

    I’d swear you are standing right next to me reading my mind.  You are a very talented writer.  Your words are strength to so many.  Please keep sharing from your heart.  I love your honesty.  

  15. Mrs Vladimirova says:

    Unfortunately, for some of us, it is a way of life. I work around it. I have lots of discussions with myself. I count my blessings. I forget who I am.
    Wish I could be like my 13 year old daughter, a year ahead as a freshman in high school, perfect grades all through school, class president, her whole life ahead of her. She has a healthy self esteem . She knows what she is worth. She works hard because she wants to, not because she thinks it is expected of her. She understands her talents, gifts, capabilities and focuses on them. She doesn’t give a thought to what she cannot do. Actually, I don’t think she thinks there is anything she cannot do.
    I am proud that I raised her this way. She is amazing. I should see myself through her eyes. Bet you could do the same thing too, mama. Bet your kids think you rock. In fact, you do. I say so, too!

  16. Kendrajwade says:

    I often feel like a timid child trapped in an aging body. When I have to dress nice for an interview or a meeting, I feel like a little girl in her momma’s clothes 😛 I am constantly doubting myself, but the moment someone else shows any lack of confidence in my, that’s when I rise up and prove to myself that I am strong, intelligent and capable of doing anything anyone else can.

  17. Carolvn says:

    Nah, it doesn’t go away…but I have finally learned, after 60 years, to decide to ACT LIKE I have confidence, and it has a way of becoming a self-fulfilling reality. I have learned that most, if not all, of the people around me feel much the same way. I have realized that they are not interested in me…they are too worried about themselves to even think much about me. If I can be interested in them, they will not care about my confidence; but they may learn to care about ME. I have learned that when I am “self-conscious”, I am “conscious of self” instead of being conscious of God and the grace He has shown in my life.

  18. Jennifer Ormond says:

    I connected to your blog through my sister. I’m so glad I did. I find this particular post could’ve been written by me. I, too, returned to school as an adult parent, albeit only two children and not 8. Surrounded by kids in their 20’s, I felt out of place and more often than not like I was looked at like the idiot who couldn’t get her life together a decade earlier. At 36, I find myself wondering when I’m going to have my stuff together…and it’s those moments I have to sit down and look at what I have acheived. Yes, my timing may not be on par with what society says is “normal”, and no, I don’t have the house (or the mortgage that comes with it) and I haven’t saved for retirement. BUT….my children have witnessed the importance of higher education, which is a far cry better than me just TELLING them they need to go to college. I have shown them, especially my daughter, that a woman can juggle a million things and make them all work. I have shown them that if you want something bad enough, put in the hard work and effort to get it and it will pay off. And here’s a little secret: anyone who says their life is settled at 40 is a liar, to themselves and the world. The secret to youth is to never stop growing, never stop learning, never stop looking at the world with wide-eyed wonderment. Once you “settle”, you may as well pick out your tombstone and let yourself decay. I’ve lived by the motto, “If you think you’ve got it figured out, you’re not doing it right”. Because 9 times out of 10, the minute you think everything is perfect, life throws you a curveball and you have to start all over again. I don’t know about you, but it’s that little bit of self-doubt that keeps me going, that makes me strive to be better. I don’t think I’d be as far as I am without it, so embrace it! Just don’t get wrapped up in it. Acknowledge it, and then focus on all that you have acheived.

  19. Connie says:

    You’re NOT crazy. Then again I am 53 and the adoptive Mom to 6 and 2more  I had far too young and left to raise on my own. I live in a house in the woods in the Pacific Northwest. Married to a great guy. Currently have 2extra kiddos plus my 5 still at home. I homeschool, I milk goats and slop pigs. I have a big fat degree from a fancy University. I still feel like I do not fit in. Maybe that is a good thing. I am not a fitter or a joiner. I am, as my Grandmother liked to say, someone who has defined themselves, not letting others, or circumstances or even Madison Ave have a say in it. I like you. I like your blog and your take on life. You are a truly a woman of substance.

  20. Avionicsgirl says:

    I just found your blog, and I’m in love with it.  Not only are you an amazing writer, but you are down to earth, and you are an inspiration.  Never mind that you feel 12…or think that you’re just playacting.  WE ALL FEEL THAT WAY.  I’m 37, I speak two languages, play two instruments, and am one of four people in the entire world that do my particular job…and yet, I sometimes am terrified to leave the house because I think “this is the day that they’re all going to figure out that I really have no idea what I’m doing.”  My 14-year-old son asked me the other day–rather snottily–what made me the authority on life.  I gave the proper parental answer, and then I went back to my room and sat on my bed and thought, “Really.  Who did?  I don’t know crap.”

    I applaud your decision to homeschool, as well.  I am oldest of 7, and we were all homeschooled.  We learned our writing and math and whatnot, but we also learned how to measure ingredients without a measuring cup.  How to bake bread and change oil and chop wood and hit a baseball and bait a hook.  My mother would hand us a stack of catalogs, tell us we each had $50 in fake money, and tell us to redecorate our bedroom.  We got extra points for everything actually looking decent. 😉  We learned how to resolve conflicts, when to walk away from a fight and when to dig our heels in and say “Bring it on.”  

    Long story short, you are doing something amazing.  I am, quite literally, in awe of you.  And from now on, anytime I think my life is overwhelming, I’m going to come here and think about how I’d deal with yours.  

    Kudos from Seattle.  You’re amazing. 😉

  21. Darcy H says:

    How does someone with a 3.98 GPA from a highly rated private college write such statements as, “I don’t dress fancy.” Something is amiss.

  22. Candle_nee says:

    I guess God does work in mysterious ways.  A friend posted via facebook your “Realistic Advice for Teenage Girls” which obvouisly brought me here.

    I was sitting here feeling sorry for myself, the whole whoa is me cuca, when I read this.  I recently celebrated the 23rd anniversary of my 21st birthday. Talk about not wanting to grow up.  I never went to college after High School, I went to the school of hard knocks. So I do not have a fancy degree to brag about or show off.  Though I did mangage to start at the bottom of a company to claw my way to the top of management and did that for 15 years, and truely enjoyed the corporate life till I came home one night and realized that my oldest son had learned how to count to 13 while I wasn’t looking. So hubby and I tightend the ole belt strap and I left management.  I wanted to be the perfect stay at home mom type.  All the PTA meetings, classroom parties, field trips, sporting events ect.  Till I realized I lost the “me”  I was known as Heath’s wife or Jon & Heathers Mom. So I went back to work, but only part time because I determined to still be that perfect stay at home mom type.  That of course only put me into a deeper funk. So when a full time position opened up at work I jumped at it – back into the corporate world I went.  The High heels, the make up, the new doo, the whole nine yards.  It was perfect, so I thought, flex hours so I woulnd’t miss a single function @ school for the kids (only 2) home early enough to make sure dinner was on the table every other friday off so still had time to get my “chores done”.  I put on that pefect face, held my head high, put up that front so people thought i was the most confident and secure person in the world. Then after the Dealers Christmas party I got invited to go out after wards.  On the way home I looked at my Husband and said, “I got invited to go with the popular kids”  Straight back to being 15yrs old again.  I must have been faking it pretty good, cuz even my husband was surpised @ my statement.  I go to work everyday thinking I’m not good enough and come home everynight wondering how I am gonna screw up being a mom. 
    I guess the long and short of it all is, I’m not the only crazy one out there!  That’s really really nice to know.  I don’t feel so all alone.  Thank you!

    • Sounds like we are all in the same boat, tossing the life ring to each other when we need it! When I wrote this I assumed I was alone too…haha…and now look, we all feel the same way!

  23. Kim Kircher says:

    I just found your blog and clicked on this post. It must have been fate or something. I’m 99% sure that I just figured something out: no one ever feels like a grown up. My grandfather used to tell me he still felt like a kid. Perhaps it’s time to just embrace it. I always feel like I have to apologize or explain why, even though I might appear very together on the outside, in reality it’s a loose sham. Brava for not pretending. I’m following you now. I look forward to perusing your old stuff and awaiting the new.

  24. Country girl says:

    You’re not crazy 🙂  You’re inspiring….I feel all those things and I don’t have children relying on me….be proud of who you are and your accomplishments 🙂  Its nice to know I’m not the only one who feels judgement from the world …..

  25. GSchafer01 says:

    You’re not crazy, and you’re certainly the only one! One thing you ARE, however, is on the right track. You know how you feel as though you’re putting on this act, this mask, for the benefit of others (and so as not to “embarrass” yourself)? The longer you do that, the more likely you are to believe that act you put on, that the mask you wear is yours. And of course, they are.

  26. ruth williamson says:

    i’m an adoptive and bio mom of 4.  and i’m CERTAIN that i’m just “faking it” and wearing my Mom’s high heels.  i definitely fee like I’m 12, yet I get all the same compliments, “You are amazing.”  and “I don’t know how you do it.”  part of my journey to accepting myself has come through realizing that I have adult ADD.  that has allowed me to realize that part of the “feeling like a kid” was due to my disorganization and messiness.  Now that i know it’s ADD, and not just horrible character flaws and immaturity (OK, not *just* those–LOL!) it’s helped me to have more grace for myself.

  27. Rebecca Wolowiec says:

    I started an Etsy store a year and a half ago, after years of self doubt about my ability to make things people wanted to buy. I didn’t sell a thing until recently. If I hadn’t read an article about how it takes 2 years to get a craft business going, I would have given up. But I am determined. I still bash myself constantly and in the next instant, tell myself to suck it up. I refuse to let anyone tell me how to live my life anymore. I am not afraid to open my mouth. And I really wish I could go back and tell the younger me that the only approval I need is my own.

  28. CarolynC says:

    You are crazy… all the best people are!  That being said… I think lots of people are hding their insecurities on the inside.  But if you keep faking self-esteem long enough… it becomes true.

  29. Jennymacballard says:

    I’ve thought a lot about this blog since i read it the other day. Probably because everything you’ve written could have been written about me LOL.
     Don’t you think, it’s those self doubts that make us work just that little bit harder at our achievements? It’s the self doubt what makes those achievements all the sweeter. Would we have achieved anything if we were brimming with (sometimes) false self confidence? 
    At 52 years I’ve made it my mantra to remind myself of my small achievements. When the kids laugh at me (in a fun and loving way) , when I mess up my words….When well meaning friends talk down at me about what they studied at University or the next complicated job criteria they need to address. When i worry about sounding TOO Aussie when writing on international forums LOL. or like now, when I have to face another of life’s unexpected challenges. I remind myself I’ve done stuff I never dreamed i would do,… that I made my choices that made me happy, and that why I am who I am today. Yep I like me…even on those days when I think nobody else does LOL

  30. bobby spain says:

    ive always tried to be srrong while all the time being carried on my wifes back like a kid. it aint always about whos the smartest or best or most successful . mostly its about who keeps trying and wont quit.

  31. Chrystle says:

    Nope, not crazy.  Oftentimes we feel like that 12 year old, mainly because that is when we felt most insecure and gauche.  The only suggestion I could make would be to not feel insecure about ourselves, but to embrace that feeling.  We are who we are, foibles and all.  We need to cut ourselves some slack, accept we’re not perfect, and be willing to find humour  in the coffee stains and garbled sentences.  Heck, I have a Bachelor’s in English Teaching, and completely flunked as a classroom teacher.  But that ended up leading me to being a Family Support Worker for a Crisis Nursery in Edmonton, and making the difference I wanted to, but in a different way.  Sometimes our failings are the very things that lead us to our successes.

  32. Liz says:

    A good friend once told me:  “never compare your insides to someone else’s outsides.”  It has become my mantra.

  33. Lauren says:

    Amen. Ain’t we all.
    (ps: how’s Anthony’s hair?)

  34. MJ says:

    You put into words how I feel also. Sounds like we’re all in the same boat.  I’m in my early 50’s too. 12 children, 11 of whom are grown and away from home.  How did I get here? I’ve said it so often–Yes, I feel like a fake!!

  35. Crazy? No, not crazy, not even close.  Crazy people are not ‘self-aware’, they think other people are crazy.  You are far from crazy.

    You asked if anyone else feels self-doubt and experiences low confidence levels. The answer is YES.  You expressed my own feelings so well I was truly surprised by what I read.  It is what I go through on a daily basis too.  

    I think that most people experience self-doubt.  I think it is healthy to question ones self regularly.  The absence of self-doubt is a “know-it-all” attitude that is not appealing.  What I think is the “key to happiness”, is to get comfortable with occasional bouts with self-doubt, and be able to use those occasions positively.  That is, to listen to that little voice we all have and make better decisions as a result.

    Self-doubt is not all bad.  If we all just barreled through life with unabashed confidence we would just start bumping into each other a lot.

    NO, you’re not crazy–and YES most of us feel less than confident a lot of the time–no worries.

  36. Sumanda says:

    I’m dealing with the same “feeling fake” issue.  I’ve been told it’s artistic people that feel like that.  Not really sure about that though. I don’t feel I deserve the artistic title 🙂

    I’ve come to realise that I’m too much of a people pleaser.  My aim now is to do things only so that I’m happy with it.  To not do anything with “other” people in mind.  To not care what the world would think about me.  Can’t say I’m having a huge lot of success with it so far, but I’m working on it… daily 🙂

  37. Karla from CO says:

    Well, I hafta tell you – I’m in my early 50’s and most days, that same feeling you describe is alive and well It might be lurking in the background as I have an energetic day or it may make me curl up and not wanna get outta bed…. and on those days that’s the hardest part of the day, getting up.  
    And getting the words to come out right… I sometimes feel that there’s a missing link between my brain and my mouth. I can write them down, sometimes quite eloquently, but sound like a fool if I try to say what’s in my head!  (btw, have you been inside my head??!!?? that feeling of being a kid playing house, pretending… I’ve felt like that for years).It’s getting a little better, but is that ’cause I just don’t give-a-care so much anymore, or is it early alzheimer’s making me forget it all?  haha..hah.. ha… ha… hmmmYou definitely aren’t the only one!! Maybe we’re sisters from different misters…  🙂

  38. Jennymacballard says:

    “Tell me I’m not the only fairly successful, confident person out there who struggles with this.  Tell me, now that I’m in my forty’s, that this will go away!
    Tell me…I’m not crazy!”
    No you’re not the only one! And guess what? It doesn’t go away. I figure if my ‘hell I can take on the world’ days out number my ‘why aren’t I good enough’ days, then I’m doing okay ….LOL….. I like me 99% of the time. If others don’t, then it’s their loss.

  39. Barney5family says:

    I’m right there with you crazy as a bat.
    Mother of 5, and second guessing every move I make
    And every step I take. I’m my mind everyone else in the world has it all figure out, but me.
    Happy to know I’m not alone!!
    Thanks for sharing.

  40. Heather says:

    if a person doesn’t have doubt, they won’t challenge themselves to be better. I think it is a life lesson, that will never be perfected. 

    • Oh, that’s a good point, Heather…Dan always says it’s okay to never be satisfied…and I argue we should be content with what we have. He says we will never strive to be better if we are content….perhaps this is where that comes in.

  41. Lrbassmom says:

    You are not alone.  I’m 48 now, and still struggle to convince myself daily that I am smart, talented, creative and at least somewhat competent.

    Like you I was a ‘non-traditional’ student that graduated with a high gpa.  I went on to get my pilot’s license, my massage therapy license, and about 4 years ago ‘learned’ to play bass guitar, sort of.  HOwever, my insecure little girl is certain that the degrees and licenses were ‘handed’ to her for some inexplicable reason. And her bass playing, well, because she’s not regularly gigging with a band (as in never has) she’s paralyzed with fear.

    After reading the other comments, apparently it’s true.  This feeling of inadequacy never goes away.  Great. Just great. 

    I guess the best you or I or others are ever going to be able to do is just to plug away at it.

  42. Cheryl says:

    Still wondering who decided I should be in charge….. You’re not alone ma’am.

  43. islandgirl says:

    I’m 39 years old and still feel like I’m faking being a grown up most of the time. I have 6 kids and l still am amazed sometimes that social workers meet me and think I am capable. Its a funny place to be…trying to guide my older kids down a solid education and career path when I still haven’t figured out what I want to be when I grow up. Sometimes I think the reason I never figured it out is because I am exactly where I am meant to be. 

  44. It is not just you, I feel this way all the time. I keep waiting to feel like a ‘grown-up’, but it hasn’t happened yet.

  45. No, you’re definitely not the only one. I’m insecure. Words come out wrong all the time. I still have no idea what I want to be when I grow up. Does it go away? I hope so… But in the meantime, it’s important to be thankful for the things we have and who we are. You are an inspiration to us all!

  46. Sue says:

    I remember asking my mom when she was in her 70’s when one ever feels like they are, at last, an adult. She said she didn’t know yet 🙂

  47. Frankieblee says:

    To hear someone my same age that I admire so much as a creative, capable, eloquent, hard-working, intelligent, free-thinker voice the same damn hang-ups that haunt me daily, makes me realize that you’re just as looney tunes as I am! And reading my fellow readers’ comments makes me feel so much less alone in my self-doubts and fears. Thank you for your voice!

  48. Mariam says:

    You.are..not.crazy.  However, you are definitely a gifted adult… you may  feel empowered and community in these resources:
    The gifted education community calls this the “imposter syndrome,” when one feels she is not worthy or enough.

  49. Ritzysmom says:

    I did very well in high school, went straight into college and did exceptionally well and graduated with both a major and a minor in separate sciences.  But I’d grown up dirt poor, never lived in the same house more than 5 years, 2 of our houses we only lived in for 3 months each, attended 3 junior highs and 2 high schools, bullied by more than one person at every school I ever went to from everything from my clothes to being fat to being too smart.  I still have those inadequacies.  My hubby is in the Army and when we first came in in 1990, most enlisted (privates to sergeants) their spouses hadn’t gone to college, much less graduated.  I had more than one officer’s wife give me the brush off, I went off on a Lieutenant’s wife because she was talking down to me and told her flat out I had more education than she did and in a more intelligent field (she had a 2 year bookkeeping degree).  Nobody in that company messed with me again, but it wasn’t the last time I dealt with it, but I handle it better.  I still was intimidated by my daughter’s high school principal at the first several child study meetings I had for her, but after a year of run around I gave him a 4 page piece of my mind. 
    Unfortunately, every new encounter, I feel like that poor little gal who everyone overlooks because I don’t do the skirt, heels, and lipstick charade.  I spend the same 16 seconds on my hair and I’m not even sure where that last mascara tube I bought went, much less what condition it is in.  I remind myself I’m a good mom, and the food or drink stains on my shirt don’t make me any less that, maybe it makes me more because it shows I’m doing my job.  And given that my degree is in biology and chemistry, having had hopes in wildlife toxicology field, even if I were a ‘professional’ in that field, I’d still be mucking about in jeans, t-shirts, and boots. 
    You aren’t crazy, you are normal.  You are down to earth.  You are what we call in the Army “resilient”, you make it through every situation that comes your way, you have the wisdom to use the book knowledge.  I have more respect for a person who has all that than a person who thinks they look good, but they can’t function and get the job done.  My daddy says that book learning won’t get you anywhere if you don’t have the common sense to use it (and humility and common sense usually go hand in hand).  We have a lot of people in today’s society who have a major shortage of the later, and that is why our society has most of the messes on its hands it has right now.

    • Thanks for that…I know a lot of people with no common sense…your daddy was right!

    • Connie says:

      You sound like an awesome MOm. BTW the lipstick, heels MOm I know is too busy running around right now re-living her teen years. I am currently raising 2 of her 10 children.  Nope you sound just perfect to me.  Stains and all.

  50. Summer Salter says:

    Wow, Keri, I struggle with this exact issue, and always have. Im always wondering when i will feel like a grownup, especily since i do things above myage bracket, and have always been the kid of the group. If i had a nickel everyone reminded me they own tennis shoes older than me… I have to remind myself that tothers are the same as me. We stay who we are since about the age of adolesence, and we are all in aging bodies trying to act grown up.

  51. Grammatuttle says:

    I wish I could tell you when it will end – I will soon be 65 and this could describe me today.  Regardless of the schooling, regardless of the positions held, regardless of the way your kids turn out because you’ve taught them right, regardless of anything – that feeling still comes.  How I wish I could have that self-confidence – the feeling that when I speak it will make a difference, that someone will listen, that I really know what I’m talking about.
    Are you crazy?  Absolutely not.  You are in very good company – there are a lot of us – and we can only be there in the shadows doing what we do best – support and caring for those around us.  God bless and keep you.

  52. Barbara says:

    I have been teaching for 23 years.  Every time I mention to anyone about how shy I am, they laugh.  I am so insecure about being the first to comment to someone or meet someone new or have to do anything in front of my peers or anywhere that I might feel the least amount of insignificance.  There are some people who bring this insecurity out more than others, but it’s there.  I’m accused of being arrogant…no, it’s just uncertainty about whether I should say anything, how it will be received, whether it even matters, etc.  Keri, you’re not crazy.  I think you’re just human and now your secret is out. 

  53. Karin says:

    You’re not at all crazy. 

  54. Elfie_laa says:

    If you’re crazy, you wield it well. And sorry, Tigger, you’re not the only one. You need some fancy therapy to lose the sense of self-doubt, and even then, it won’t go away completely (“Did I just pay that psychologist $2000 for nothing? OMG, DID I???”). Best you can hope for is the ability to make firm decisions and stick by them, and bring up the Shield of Past Successes (+3) when you battle the Chimaera of Inadequacy. Upgrade your weapon to the Halberd of Proven Track Record (+2), and your armour should be something light but pretty – Hammered Chain of Disdain For What Other People Will Think. And use your own dice, not the Game Master’s or any other Player’s, when you roll.

  55. Lara Rogers-Mcginnis says:

    You are so not crazy.   I have chills as I identify with almost everything you said.  People tell me I’m amazing, I can do anything and I’ve done amazing things and yet I keep waiting for them to realize I’m a big fake, I really can’t do all this amazing stuff that I’ve done.  Sometimes I think I must be crazy.  It’s nice to know I’m as sane as you are…

  56. Karen Loe says:

    I’m almost 50.  I have a graduate degree.  I have a small business.  I have been homeschooling for almost ten years.  Married almost 20.  I have a nice home, a couple of cars, a wonderful marriage, friends.
    Inside, I’m so 14.
    And I’m sure that people can see that I am, actually, a fraud.
    I have learned, over the years, what to do when those feelings begin to undermine my day…but they are still a challenge.
    You are not alone.

    • I’m about to embark on homeschooling, myself. Might need some advice… 🙂 And perhaps you can share with me how you learned to overcome the feelings…to get through the day!

  57. shy says:

    I believe it is our self doubt that keeps us in balance. It keeps us humble.  Think about what arrogant jerks we would become without it.  I which much prefer to feel like the kid that has been sent to the principal’s office than to lose the humility that keeps me real.  

    Happy to say that you are not the only one.  I believe that most of the people that stand before us looking all polished and professional have the same feeling going on in their heads.  To say that you are amazing is an understatement. And without your confession, no one would be the wiser.

  58. Night Rider says:

    Heck yeah you’re crazy! Looney as a tune. Bonkers. Completely around the bend.

    Just like the rest of us.

    If you weren’t crazy I’d be worried about you. You take care of kids that no one else will, live in the middle of nowhere (it’s way past backwoods sweetie, I know, I can see the backwoods from where I live, and you ain’t even on the radar), and do amazing things with very little. You have to be crazy. And it’s wonderful that you are. Sane people are boring. They stay in their boxes, in their little towns, and do the same things over and over again, through the generations. The crazy ones leave, go to far away places, take chances, branch out, invent, write, sing, all those things the sane ones look at and are horrified by, because they can’t imagine doing these things themselves. Crazy people take chances. Seldom do they die, with regrets, wondering why they didn’t try something. Sane people live lives of quiet desperation, and die wondering ‘what if’.

    I realized long ago that most people, especially those who matter to you and in your life, really don’t pay attention to most of the little things we worry about. You don’t ‘sound backwoods’. I promise you you sound just like everyone else you talk to on a daily basis. 99% of the people out there are petrified by the thought of speaking in front of a group of any size. And they admire those that can, and the last thing on their minds is criticizing those who do. If someone is focused more on your coffee dribble than the meeting, either the meeting isn’t that important, or they aren’t.

    Anytime you start having those issues, look at what you have overcome and where you are in life. Look at all the kids who’s lives you’ve touched and made better, if only for a short time. We all have our demons, our regrets, our what-ifs. It’s called life. Think how boring it would be if we were all perfect.

    I’m glad you aren’t.

    • Why don’t you just take over my blog…you always say things so much better than I!!! Also, we’ve not chatted in a while! Hope all is well!

      • Night Rider says:

        You bring out the best in me.

        You know how nasty I am when left to my own thoughts…..

        I’m dong okay. Glad you and yours have made it through the flu bug epidemic.

      • Cheryl Beuning says:

        Um, no.  
        BWM, YOU say things very well.  You have a wonderful written voice.  I don’t know what you sound like face2face, but I enjoy the way you bring words together.  They sing in my head, even if they don’t in yours.  I too have teens, but not.. 8?   We too have homeschooled, but it was right for us at the time and is not right, now.  We too have lived in AK, but not at the moment.  I admire what you have accomplished with your life and the life of your family.I admire you.

  59. pam says:

    Another great piece.  Hey, 56 years on this earth and that is exactly my reaction… is someone talking about me, am I not wanted, that sort of thing.  But now, instead of letting the fight or flight instinct take over (mostly flight), I remind myself not to jump to conclusions, and I try to be more kind to myself.  Yes, you are intelligent, and wise, and I know you must be at the top of the ladder as far as being resourceful and thinking on your feet.  

  60. Stitchnbich says:

    you’re not crazy sister! what’s crazy is that you feel this way- not that your feelings are crazy- the REALITY is crazy to me.  …. that i feel exactly the same, yet, i follow your posts for perspective in my own life and inspiration that, like you, i too, will ‘get it together’ one day, do well by my children and follow my heart! as a couple of other comments suggest, i guess we really do just muddle along doing the best we can? … i kinda hope that won’t forever be the case, though- cuz, frankly, it’s kinda exhausting to muddle! keep on keeping on kindred spirit!

  61. And I thought I was the only one!  I don’t think anyone knows what they want to be when they grow up… I don’t even think anyone ever fully “grows up”.

  62. I’ve often felt that way.  I know I’m pretty smart, I run a business and my kids and husband are great.  Yet, I’m constantly looking at my own imperfections and wondering why other people seem to be so great at what they do and I fumble around.  I’ve had a lot of crutches, like the learning disability that caused so much trouble in high school that I didn’t graduate.  But I aced the GED test.  I was in the top of my class in my technical school.  But  I couldn’t seem to find the confidence to go to a real university.  I loved being a stay at home mom, but it too was a crutch for me.  It was safe, no math, no need to speak eloquently.  Now I’m running my own business and I’m a freshman in college.  I don’t know if my feelings of inadequecy will ever go away, but I guess I can just move forward and not let my fear get the best of me.

    • Nice work being a freshman in college!!! I didn’t graduate either, got my GED at 18 (while carrying a two year old on my hip…haha) and didn’t go to college until I was 29 or 30. Keep it up!!!!!

  63. Dusti Sage says:

    I struggle with the same feelings. I’m 27, have two baby boys that are 10 months apart. I haven’t made it back to school yet, but I’m fairly confident that I will when I get things figured out for myself. I’m intelligent but I too have a hard time getting the intelligent thoughts out of my mouth. I fumble over my words and speak with a Minnesota drawl. It makes me cringe and look for a hole in the ground to crawl into. More often than not I just drop out of the conversation feeling like a complete moron, and wondering if other people are thinking the same thing.
    You aren’t alone! 

  64. I felt like this is something I could have written. Except that I haven’t finished college. My cloud of self doubt and gas prices have put a damper on that.  I remember for so long feeling like the kid in the crowd and now, somehow, I AM the adult and I AM the mom of 3 and wife of 15 years! How did it happen? How did the time slip away so quickly? 

  65. Kari Johnson says:

    Again our lives seem to cross.  My blog yesterday about living with a volcano reminded me of you and your kids.  If you have a chance I’d love for you to read it at kari’

  66. I feel like this every day.  I fix my hair, my make up, pick out the right outfit for that particular day all trying to exude the confidence I wish I had, but, all the while, I’m trying not fo fall flat on my face.  I’m trying to teach my girls to have self confidence and yet I have the hardest time finding my own, so I pretend….I’ve gotten good at pretending.  I’m 35 and I too wonder when I’ll be “grown up”…

  67. Zenmom79 says:

    Are we twins? I thought that I was the only one who struggled with this.  I wish I could quit worrying about what others thing, what they have to say. I WISH I had a shield of protection. Thanks for posting something so personal. Makes me feel slightly more normal.

  68. LSF says:

    nope…not crazy….not going away….Just be you!

  69. Sjm_qc says:

    This made me cry : I thought it was just me…

    You’re not the only one, & you’re not crazy! (Well no more than I am), but I have no idea whether it ever goes away …(40-something & still hoping no-one will notice…;-()

  70. Karen says:

    Nope! not crazy; but sadly at nearly 60 I can tell you it doesn’t go away, you just have to carry on and get others to believe that you can do anything.  You just do the best you can each and every day.

  71. Kathleen Stevens says:

    you are not crazy – i just learned the other day from none other than my daughter of 28 years what you are experiencing is gaslighting….look it up or google it – it will answer your mystery of why you might think you are CRAZY!

  72. Katie says:


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