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  • Writer's pictureRay Watters

SELF DOUBT = SELF SABOTAGE

Updated: Mar 1

Three score and seven years ago, my 8th grade music teacher handed me sheet music to “The Dream of Olwen” (Charles Williams, Composer) and suggested I should perform this on the piano with the school orchestra at the annual school music festival. One look at the music sent pangs of self-doubt through me and I felt this was not only a difficult task, but a near impossible one as well. I had been taking piano lessons since the age of eight and was considered a pretty good musician for someone my age, although I didn’t believe it. Nevertheless, I practiced the piece for weeks alone, and with the orchestra, and successfully performed it at the festival. That should have been a lesson that I am capable of more than I thought.


It wasn't.


I was not raised in the most supportive household and self-doubt was so rampant in my life that it led me to give up the piano at the age of eighteen…self-sabotage at its finest.


Years later, the idea of becoming an actor intrigued me, however, I took no action for the same reason…I simply didn’t feel I was good enough.


My self-esteem received a much needed boost during my time in the military since I accomplished much more than I thought capable and, as a result, years later I decided to leave my comfort zone and audition for a play being produced in our community. I booked a lead role and immediately had to memorize many pages of dialogue. Another impossible task I thought, yet despite my self-doubt, I accomplished it.


I learned that my self-doubt had been standing in the way of success and that I was engaging in self-sabotage. At that point, I made the decision to continue leaving my comfort zone and try to accomplish those things I used to dream about. This led to years doing live radio and hosting a regional television program…two things I once thought would never happen. I was accomplishing things I never thought I could do! Nevertheless, I was hit with another malady…a malady commonly known as the Imposter Syndrome.


During my time in radio and television, I received compliments from others and was even nominated for a press club award two years in a row. I received a proclamation from our city council honoring me for my support in the community. I was honored by the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Army for my efforts in supporting their missions. These awards take up space on the wall of a room in my house and should be a reminder that I have done well.


Should, but not always.


There were times I felt I would soon be discovered as a phony…a fake...and that all my accomplishments were the result of dumb luck…being in the right place at the right time. In short, I was a poster boy for the Imposter Syndrome.


It has taken time, but I have managed to overcome my self-doubt by accepting that I will never rise above being human and that I am OK just the way I am…warts and all. I can stop trying to be a perfectionist in order to live up to what I feel others expect of me. I have had to separate the facts of my accomplishments from my feelings of self-doubt. Most of all, it has been a relief to learn that most people on occasion have experienced the same self-doubt.


It has taken time…way too much time ‘cause I am now 80 years old. But, damn…I’m having fun!


Accept who you are and have fun!





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John Clayton
John Clayton
Jul 19, 2023

Brilliant beyond belief and absolutely riveting. Many people (maybe even most?) think those thoughts, but are totally unable to actually voice and say them. The fact, yes the FACT that you do it so honestly, and with such emotion, are the hallmarks of a for sure, genuine mind and brilliant (there’s that word again!) literary genius. You’re an awesome writer and gifted actor.

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