Self Doubt is an Emotional gremlin

Friends, let me introduce myself. Adams’ the name. Kenny Adams. That’s me behind this keyboard typing this blog post. And I have a story to tell. I know. Who hasn’t got a story…

This is one of those posts that is pushing me WAY out of my comfort zone. This is also a post that goes against the traditional norm of being extremely transparent with my motivations and day to day emotions. Some blog/social media experts will say that it’s too vulnerable or that the emotions I’m going to speak about will “hurt the brand”.  Do I look like a brand to you? 

maybe add in a pinch of loathing…

I doubt it.

Speaking of which, we’re going to be discussing self doubt. The two words that most creators of content face. For some, this “wall” is easy to break through and/or ignore. For others, it makes us second guess every thing we put our minds to. And lastly, there’s that group of people that simply… won’t produce. We put it all of our time and effort into concepts, but often times, that’s where it stops. There are people out there that have unreleased podcast episodes, unedited Vlogs, and 20+ blogposts stuck in “Drafts”. The sad part of all of this is, a lot of that content is SO valuable and actually really good. But we can’t see past our own self doubt. And looking at all of that wasted potential, it makes us doubt ourselves even more.

Mogwai to Gremlin. Gremlin to Gremlins. Gremlins bring Destruction.

The 80’s birthed a great Halloween/Christmas movie directed by the immortal Joe Dante. That’s right. We’re talking Gremlins! Quick overview for the uninitiated: Father buys gift for son. Gift is a creature called a Mogwai. They have rules. For those not familiar with ‘The Rules’. It’s simple. Don’t get it wet. Don’t get it in direct sunlight. And don’t feed it after midnight. Yes I know this sounds like the very definition of the rules that apply to Internet Trolls but let’s move forward. The son ignores one rule which leads to the now renegade mogwais that have spawned breaking the second rule (feeding after midnight) and chaos ensues. Third rule plays into the third act. This concept fits as a perfect analogy to the mindset of a self doubting creator.

When the creative juices are flowing, we feel unstoppable. We write, craft, record, and film with all of these great ideas. It’s like pouring water on a Mogwai. The first idea spawns another. And then another. It just keeps on going until we are now sitting with so many great ideas that we don’t know what to do with ourselves. 

That’s a nice idea… be a shame if someone were to… actually do something with it…

Then we begin to second guess ourselves. Those great ideas we’ve birthed begin to corrupt as if it had a late night snack. They turn into the worst Gremlin you can imagine. “Why would anyone like this post?” “That idea is not really good. It’ll hurt more than help when it comes to your audience.” “Audience? What audience? No one is reading/listening/watching… why bother?” Essentially, these Gremlins pour more water on themselves, creating even more self doubt.

Yes, these are the things we say to ourselves when we get stuck in this circle of error. All of those great thoughts end up tormenting us by sitting stagnant. They play tricks on us and hinder our ability to create with freedom. And ultimately, they never see the light of day. Okay, being that seeing the light of day would in fact kill a Gremlin makes that last part of the analogy a bit of a stretch but you get where I’m coming from.

Our own worst enemy

Here’s a little secret. All of this negativity, especially if we never release our own content, is all internal and does not reflect what it the worth of what is brought to the table. I put out a poll to a some of my friends on Facebook and Twitter with the following question:

When you read blog posts, watch webcasts, listen to podcasts, what determines its value to you?

Popularity of the Creator? The quality of the content? Consistency? The frequency of the content? Production value?

Here is a sample of some of the answers:

“…you make some brilliant shit but popularity is 90% luck, so it is a very unreliable indicator of value. – D.”

“…Interest in the topic, respect for the creator. – B.”

“Popularity doesn’t matter 2 me. Content matters the most. I can listen to 1 person talking or a group having a discussion. As long as the mics work and I can hear everyone clearly, that’s all I care about prod value-wise. Once a week is good, Long breaks between seasons is tough. – M”

“For me it’s a combination: Quality content first, then production value so it’s not difficult to listen to/watch (ie The topic might be great, but if the sound goes in and out, I’ll get frustrated.) As long as they are saying something important, I don’t care if they’re popular. – S”

My friend’s comment about popularity is quite poignant, actually. People look at the numbers (ahem..) and live on comparison. I had the pleasure of interviewing the wonderful Kristin Booth where she dropped the wonderful Teddy Roosevelt quote: “Comparison is the thief of joy”. Just because someone like Logan Paul (Come at me, bro. Wait. no. Don’t come at me. You can afford FAR better lawyers), or Daddy O Five have hundreds of thousands to millions of followers, doesn’t mean the content is good. Sure there are people that make AMAZING content but struggle to gain an audience. And that’s where the luck factor comes in. So what do you do?

Always Forward, Never backwards. 

Stepping out of the shadows and putting out the content that we believe in can be a scary step. Avoiding the fear of rejection, being ignored, or having a negative reception often holds us back. But if we don’t take a step forward, we will never know what the reception would actually be.

If you haven’t gathered it by now, if you go back and change all of the identifiers of “we/us” in this post, you can replace them with “me/I”. Everything in this post, I’ve experienced. My therapist calls this “Borrowing Worry”. Essentially I’m worried about eventualities that most likely won’t even come to fruition. Where does this insecurity come from? I have no idea, but I have been told by countless people that I am a good writer, they enjoy my podcasts and their topics, the live streams I’ve done and so on. So I move forward. I press on daily. I still have a heavy dose of second guessing that I deal with daily. Hitting “Publish” on this one, in itself, is a large step. 

But I just did. 

Until Next time… -K

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