(Art by Mayana Nell Torres)
Self-doubt gets in my way more than anything else life throws in my direction, more than pull doors that I constantly push, more than untied shoelaces, or delayed subway trains. But this Debbie Downer named self-doubt isn’t wholly a creation of my own. In a world where the idea of success is depicted as a linear graph, it’s no wonder we are afraid of failure. In a world with uneven playing fields based on social constructs – it’s no wonder why we think we aren’t capable. We get in our way because we’ve engrained these social messages that have hurt us deeply.
With all that being said, there are still some things we can’t control. When I was younger, I would sometimes get so frustrated when I would play MASH, and the outcome wasn’t what I wanted. (For those who don’t know, MASH is a game that decides your future, who you’ll marry, where you’ll live, etc.) I would pout to my grandmother while she was cooking or doing something lovely, explaining to her why my entire world was crumbling. When she realized that I was very, very serious, she would chuckle and say, “Maya, you know you make plans, and God laughs.” That phrase has stuck with me as I have gotten older and my frustration with things has intensified from the silly game of MASH. In many ways, it has helped me find sanity in the craziest moments. Take out God and put in whatever reaches your heart; the message was that there is so much that we can’t control. To a certain extent, we can’t control what tomorrow even brings. The least we can do is show up for ourselves and others.
We don’t apply for too many opportunities because we don’t think we are qualified enough, good enough, ready enough. It feels like we all took the spell from Alice In Wonderland and shrunk into the dust’s size in the corner of your room, instead of shining from that massive amount of light that is within each one of you. I hope this year we become our biggest supporter instead of our most prominent critic, that we carry this body of ours with compassion for all it goes through and is capable of and that we try not to lock doors, we haven’t stepped through because we are afraid of what’s on the other side. I hope to not let our fear of the unknown stop us from trying.
I write these as a gentle reminder and love letter to us all:
- Don’t give up on yourself. What’s meant for you won’t pass you, but it also needs you to try the best you can. When I came into this new year, I was stuck with creating goals or scripting a future for this new decade. In a lot of ways, I still am. This past year has taken so much away that I am afraid to dream big, afraid of disappointing myself. But we owe it to ourselves to keep trying, to fall back in love with the journey and not just the outcome.
- Just because it didn’t work out doesn’t mean that your trying wasn’t worth it. We hurt ourselves so much of the time because we feel like we wasted time trying something that didn’t end the way we wanted. The saying that everything happens for a reason is something that always felt bittersweet for me, especially now with so much sadness. But I have felt motivated by the idea that the lesson and experience make the try worth it no matter the outcome. Insight is one of the greatest gifts of living, and “redirection is the best intervention.”
- You’ll never be completely ready, do it anyway. You are “qualified” and are more capable of things that you give yourself credit for. Elaine Welterworth said, “Do not dig up in doubt what was planted in faith.” Follow your gut and go for it. Let the butterflies fuel you.
- It doesn’t have to ultimately work out for it to be worth it. So much of the time, I find that we are afraid of embarrassment or not getting the surplus of support we wanted. I remember once I was talking to someone about my hesitation in opening an online art shop. They told me that your art doesn’t have to sell out for it to be worth it. You putting yourself out there, creating, and sharing is a prize in itself. If your inner compass is pushing you towards this next step, then it won’t matter what the people to the left and right of you say.
- Stop comparing yourself to others around you. I hear from my peers all the time: “I can’t believe she/her/they are our age and are already that far into their career!” “What’s the worth of trying…. somebody has already done it, younger and better.” Growing up in a world of media and young elites, life seems super short, and the “race” can be so overwhelming. Your results will look different from the result for somebody else. There is no one you’re in a race with. It’s not kind to yourself to compare, it only clouds you from your own light.
I want to live in a world where failing and growing is as socially accepted as succeeding and sustaining; a world where the things you create and the things you put your time into are not how we view our worth. I want to live in a world where we don’t grow up and lose sight of the fact that simply existing means you are worthy of love, of experiences, and worth trying for. I hope we can go through this world showing up for ourselves in the best way we can. Living in a world full of so much uncertainty, we must try for any opportunities that speak to us even if that negative voice still lingers.
Mayana is a born and raised Brooklyn gal with strong Black and Latina roots. Her roots serve as the basis for her commitment to nature, wellness, and community. She is a Multidisciplinary Artist and Student Activist using different avenues of creation to not only tell her story, but amplify the ones of her community. Mayana uses her voice and passions to spread light and joy while also creating content based on being a college student and a young woman of color. She is committed to actively promoting the knowledge and mindset that supports global awareness of environmental and racial injustices.