I have to believe in myself


Oh Allah, it is Your mercy that I hope for, so do not leave me in charge of my affairs even for a blink of an eye, and rectify for me all of my affairs.  None has the right to be worshiped except You.

I spent much of my adult life coasting, without concrete goals and without a vision.  In the late 1990s I discovered the distance learning program at Rochester Institute of Technology, and through it I began the process of finally completing a bachelors degree.  I was motivated to finish my degree in part because over the course of 14 years I had moved steadily up the ladder at the business I worked for but had hit a point where I needed a degree to go farther.

But I was also motivated by stone cold competitiveness.  I wanted to get the best grades, to work better and harder than any of my classmates, to garner the professor’s favor. With that fire under me, I completed my associate degree in 2001, bachelor’s in 2002 and master’s in 2003.  Throughout, competitiveness was a big part of my motivation.

I entered 2004 with no concrete vision, just a hope that I would find journalism work in Houston, which I did not.  I was 42 and aimless.

Instead, I got involved in community activities, my blog, my bookstore, etc. and was often praised for my work.  That always bugged me, because I don’t think it’s morally right to do charitable work for praise.  Yet my heart is so hard I can’t humble myself enough to realize that God’s approval should be the measure by which I judge my worth. I had gauged my value by comparing my skills to others’ for so long that I was hard pressed to find another way.

I don’t do anything now except work, school and Toastmasters.

All this, I believe, has led to my most debilitating weakness: the inability to get started on time and finish on time.  Procrastination.  It’s a burden I bring on myself and can’t seem to free myself of.  I have researched the reasons for procrastination, and there are several, but one of them is low self-esteem and low expectations – as this article describes it, “self-downing,” and I believe that is the root of my procrastination.

Fine to know why; I need to figure out how to change.

I should be grateful to God that He has given me the opportunity to be a professional writer.  My ugly secret is that I look at writing assignments and don’t envision a steady process of work leading to a great product.  I put the work off and put it off and put it off, and in the end I meet the low bar I set: rushing to finish and producing something beneath my standards.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, I don’t read my writing when it’s published. I’m so afraid I’ll hate it.

Over the last few years I have overcome and improved many of my negative characteristics and habits.  I know I can beat procrastination, God willing. I have to overcome this habit of lateness which is beginning to cripple me, both professional and academically.  I have to believe in my own worth.  The first step is to acknowledge that God is in charge and the next is to pray and ask Him to make me grateful and thank Him for rewarding me even when I don’t acknowledge Him as the only real power in the universe.