The Weakness In Me

In addition to being the title of one of my favorite Joan Armatrading songs, my post title today will explore a little bit of my “Kryptonite”, so to speak.

I was reading my brother-in-law’s blog the other day in which he discussed a conversation he had with a friend about those interview questions we’re all asked at some point. Typically you’re asked what you would say are your strengths and then what are your weaknesses. If you’ve been in a position to do a lot of interviewing you’ve heard them and perhaps you’ve even prepared yourself ahead of time for them, as most job coaches advise.

By the way, my stock answer was one that was recommended by job coaches; you take one of your strengths and turn it around into a weakness. Thus, my strength of being detail-oriented becomes a weakness of being too easily drawn into missing the big picture. Most interviewers today are familiar with the tactic, but “back in the day” they were awed by your insight and impressed that, “Hey, this guy really doesn’t have any BAD weaknesses.”

But, truth be told, I DO have a bad weakness. I know, I know it’s hard to believe, but I really do.

cc licensed flickr photo by Rennett Stowe

Now, if you ask my wife, she’ll have a whole list of weaknesses she sees in me, with the biggest being that she thinks I’m a procrastinator. However, I turn that around into one of my strengths (see, it works both ways); that I’m cautious and deliberate. I do not run blindly into things without feeling that I have equipped myself with all the information possible to make the right decision. Here’s an easy analogy; if we walk into a store together, my wife will make impulse buys and I will not.

No, the weakness in me is much more insidious. At least with Kryptonite, Superman can do his best to avoid it, construct lead shielding for it or even have friends remove it safely away from him. But the weakness in me is truly in me, and that makes overcoming it all the more difficult and more of a never-ending battle.

Because the weakness in me is a lack of self-confidence. No matter how much praise and accolades my wife, family or friends may heap upon me for my writing (and I love hearing every morsel of it) my inner demon tells me they’re only saying that because they have to. Objectively, I don’t believe that, but subjectively, my lack of self-confidence takes over and rises up larger than the praise. Even when the big media conglomerate picked my posts out of a hyperlocal blog and asked me to write for them, I thought it was a joke someone was playing or that a mistake had been made and they really meant to contact the person who posted above or below me.

cc licensed flickr photo by Brooke Raymond

But where this weakness really does the most damage is in causing me to not submit my writing to possible outlets. I know every writer (ok, most of them) have this issue to some degree and the advice is always the same; just grow a tougher skin and get used to rejection slips, but I can’t even seem to get to the point of sending something out. Whether it’s samples for other online outlets or blogs or sending a travel story to a magazine or a short story to  a contest or anthology, my lack of self-confidence holds me back from even taking the first step.

So, that’s the weakness in me. But I’ve been fighting it a lot lately and I’ll keep fighting it. One day you’ll see my work in places other than this blog, of that I’m confident.

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