Self-Doubt Has a Putrid Smell

The first sentence is always the hardest to write, especially when you take a year-long hiatus from one of your greatest passions. One thing is for certain: if you were born to do something… anything, you will always be pulled in its direction. I am an avid reader, and thanks to my husband, I constantly watch interviews featuring some of the world’s most successful people. I have found that throughout all their crazy experiences and destiny-defining moments, there is always one common denominator: Belief. An unexplainable, often illogical faith that they are on the right path. I have always been a dreamer and a firm believer that there was so much more I had to offer the world. In every stage of my life, it was like I could hear a voice saying… “more”, “bigger”, and “keep going”. So, when I found myself submitting my resignation letter at Uber in 2021, I knew I was hovering around the door labeled “Irrational Decisions”, and I confidently walked through it.  

Putrid scents are caused by rotting and decaying matter. Imagine what happens when you let a dream, goal, or idea sit there untouched or when you take long breaks without watering the very thing that gives you life. It begins to emit an odor that cannot be ignored and silently begs for the attention it desperately deserves. It is easy to sustain your belief system when things are going well or when you first start something. You have not faced any or enough rejections yet for self-doubt to visit you. But can you still believe when you are playing a football game down 21-3 by the half (sorry Falcons fans), investing the last $100 in your savings account, or applying to your 355th job? That is the breeding ground for champions. This is where best-selling authors write their best material. And unfortunately, it is in these moments when dreams begin the decomposition process. 

In my case, self-doubt was gradual. I started my journey with optimism for the future. I knew entrepreneurship had its challenges: this would be the third business I would try to bootstrap and the first one on my own. At the time, this excited me. I was running full speed ahead into a sea of possibilities… and then I started drowning. Somewhere between the highs of flexibility and the lows of insecurities, I found myself feeling like I made the biggest mistake. I could audibly hear the voices and laughter mocking me and my choices. “Who quits a job they were brilliant at?” “You’re so young. You have so much time to learn.” “Good luck.” Somehow, I found myself applying for jobs again. Maybe I can do both. People run businesses with a full-time job all the time. Tech was good for me. Stability was good for me. Then, I started to smell it: the pungent smell of a dying dream.  

What fuels self-doubt? 

  1. Negative Voices 
  • Be mindful of who you share your dreams with, especially if you are easily swayed. People cannot help but insert their logic and personal opinions, and when given your ear, they can be pessimistic. It is not always malicious, and sometimes they may be trying to save you from your own detriment, so learn to discern the intentions behind the voices. What may start as motivation to keep going can become a huge deterrent.  
  1. Inconsistency 
  • After you have played the blame game and pointed the finger at everyone else, it is time to look in the mirror. Often, behind every dying dream is a person who stopped working or allowed their momentum to slow down. It may not be intentional; life happens, and you can find yourself catering to everyone and everything else. After you have poured into your job, your family, your partner, and your community, never neglect to leave a little bit of energy to pour into the one person you are ultimately responsible for: Yourself. 
  1. Unstable Foundation 
  • A wise man builds his house on a rock (Matthew 7:24). How will your foundation respond when the storms of life arrive? Whenever you embark on a new venture, determine your why. You may not know exactly how you will get there (there are several detours along the way), but the purpose of the destination can provide much-needed fuel in the eleventh hour. 

In life, we are constantly confronted with choices that will ultimately decide who and what we become. As I type this, I am sitting in a club lounge in Denver across from my husband who has been typing intensely on his laptop since we got here. It is a vivid visual of someone who is relentless in pursuing their goals. Then you have me, finally beginning to understand what it takes to be great. Finally realizing that dreaming is only a small, though important, portion of the cycle. Finally seeing that believing is a long game that requires a visionary mindset.  

My challenge for you is to comb through the libraries of your brain and reconsider an idea that you may have repressed or given up on because of a roadblock. Now, write it down or post it somewhere you can see every day. For me, it was having my logo as my background on my phone. Even when I was discouraged, it was a reminder that there was work to do and the job was nowhere near finished. As the new year begins, let us do something about that smell you have been ignoring and masking with the deceiving fragrance of distractions.  

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