Dealing with Self-Doubt and Feeling Legitimate

We are just around the corner form the 1st anniversary of The Bliss List. I am immensely proud of this blog and so pleased that I finally followed through on a long-standing dream. I didn’t have a clear vision when I started, but the more I wrote, the further down the rabbit hole I went and realized I had something to say about living intentionally with purpose and passion and helping others do the same.

But, that doesn’t mean it has been an easy journey. Some of the topics I have discussed have left me feeling exposed and vulnerable and others have left me questioning whether I am the right person to be giving the message. I’m just going to come right out and say it: I have often wondered whether I am “legitimate enough” to write this blog. I am not a mental health professional. I am not a counsellor or a life coach. I am not even a business owner. I am just an aspiring writer with a story to tell.

Dealing with Self-Doubt and Feeling Legitimate.pngThis fear of not feeling legitimate has followed me throughout most of my adult life. I’m not sure where it came from, but I have always had this insistent need to prove myself. I was always the first to volunteer for a new project, the last one to leave for the day and consistently showing up to get involved whether it was in school, extra-curricular activities or in my job. I assumed it would go away as I got older and gained more experience, but every now and then it creeps back up.

Back in February, despite nagging feelings of self-doubt, I decided to lay all my vulnerabilities on the line and sent in two proposals for a provincial-wide conference. When I hit send on the email containing my proposals, I was certain that the conference organizers would just cast me aside as a “nobody” they had never heard of before and move on to someone else more well-known. Instead, I found out that at the end of May I will be presenting not just one, but TWO presentations at the College Association for Language and Literacy Conference. This is a provincial conference that focuses on exploring all aspects of language, writing, literacy and learning at the college level. Faculty from across the province will be travelling to take part in this conference which includes listening to me speak about two very different, but equally important topics.

The first is a presentation about the lessons I learned from the Ontario College Faculty Strike that took place in the Fall of 2017. This is my chance to share with my colleagues the take-home lessons I learned about community, collaboration and the identity of our staff and students. The other is a workshop about developing self-care strategies for faculty. This one has become a passion project of mine for quite some time. I’ve been able to use my blog as a platform to advocate for self-care, mental health and overall well-being, but now I will be able to reach an even larger audience and share ideas about something that has changed the way I live my daily life.

I am so excited and honoured to be presenting on these two topics, but it was a big personal struggle for me to even throw my hat in the ring. When it came to preparing my proposals, I knew that I had something to say and that there was a good chance that someone out there could benefit from my message, but I grappled with whether or not I was the right person for this. Toxic thoughts filled my head:

“Who cares what lessons I learned on the strike?”

“Whatever I have to say, I’m sure someone else could say it better”

Who am I to deliver a presentation on self-care for faculty?”

But by far the biggest question that my brain kept coming back to was, “Am I legitimate enough to give these presentations?” Am I qualified to give a presentation on self-care strategies and how to develop a wellness plan for faculty? Am I the right person to share their experiences about the strike?

I am a well-educated, intelligent, highly experienced woman who has been very successful in my professional and personal life. Why was I letting my self-doubt get the best of me? This fear of not being legitimate had more to do with what I worried others would think about me than what I thought of myself. I was putting myself out there in front of my peers to share my story and experiences. That takes an incredible amount of courage and searching for legitimacy wasn’t going to bring me greater joy. All it would do is cause stress and anxiety. It reminded me of a quote by Theodore Roosevelt that Brene Brown shared in her book “Daring Greatly”:


“Who cares what lessons I learned on the strike?”
Maybe no one. Or, maybe there is someone who will listen to my story and think differently about their own experience. Maybe someone will realize that there is someone out there who shares their thoughts and feelings, or someone who will be able to look at the situation from a different angle.

Who am I to deliver a presentation on self-care for faculty?”
Who better than a faculty member who has found herself in desperate need of self-care and now relies on it as a critical part of her daily routine.

I realized that I will probably never have that moment of feeling “legitimate” whether it is in my job as a teacher or an advisor, as a writer or as a blogger. I will always have insecurities and struggle with my inner demons. I will likely always feel that there is someone else out there who is more qualified, has more experience, and is a better storyteller than I am. But, only I can tell my story. So, I am done waiting for someone else to tell me I am legitimate because that day will probably never come. Instead, I’m owning it myself, and I’m sharing this message with all of you. For anyone out there who feels that they are not enough, that someone else is better than you or that you are insufficient in anyway – until you own your successes and strengths yourself, you will never feel you are enough. You are always enough and you always have something to share with the world. There is only one person out there who is exactly like you and that is something to celebrate. In the wise words of Dr. Seuss, “There is no one alive who is youer than you”.


So, when I give these presentations at the end of the month, yes, I will be nervous and yes, I’m sure I will have moments of self-doubt and insecurities, but I am going to stand tall, share my story and know that I was authentically myself. And there isn’t anyone else who could do that better than me.

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15 Replies to “Dealing with Self-Doubt and Feeling Legitimate”

  1. Kelsey Kelsey Kelsey what can I say other than WOW!!!! You go girl and you are legitimate!!! We are so proud of you hun, you have so much of you to give to us. Amazing. Love you


  2. WOW! Congratulations on this major accomplishment! It’s so fantastic that you took that leap and applied to the conferences. The feeling of “imposter syndrome” is a very real thing that I think many of us struggle with. Thank you for sharing your story. As a faculty member myself, I can guarantee that I’d love to attend your talks 🙂


  3. Wise advice. I totally understand! I write a lot about mental health and have no professional qualifications whatsoever – just my degree from the school of hard knocks. I didn’t even graduate high school! So I second guess myself all the time but it’s a great feeling when someone tells me I really helped them.

    Liked by 1 person

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