Originally posted as part of Health Warrior’s #WarriorCrushWednesday series, which features warriors of all kinds who are working to make this world a better place.
I spent twenty years collecting titles and trophies like they were trading cards, not because I wanted to fill up the empty spaces on my bookshelf, but because I needed to fill a hole inside of me. I was a card-carrying member of the overcompensation club; not feeling good enough most of the time pushed me to be seen as more than enough all the time to make up the difference.
Perhaps you’re familiar.
My nagging self-doubt began as a teenager and picked up steam after giving birth to two children and entering the most competitive sport around: Motherhood. A world in which other mothers appeared to glide through life on ice skates while I stood in the corner tucking my muffin top into my pants and praying I’d make it through Thursday without losing my ever-loving mind.
Self-doubt is a beast like that. It inhales everything you do wrong, nothing you do right, and blows it back into your face. If you’re playing host mom to a dragon of self-doubt, you’re just like millions of mothers who’ve lost their ability to say no, draw boundaries, live in the present moment, remove their masks and ask for help.
I should know. That was my life until a professional opportunity led to a personal epiphany that changed my life forever. In my role as a senior vice president in the advertising industry, I was invited to conduct research with mothers across seventeen countries in order to help pitch and win the global Johnson & Johnson business. Though I had selfishly seen the research as an opportunity to pry into the minds of other moms and learn how they managed to stay afloat in a way I no longer could, no such thing happened.
Regardless of age, income, race, and nationality, every mother I studied was plagued with some sense of doubt. I heard “I feel like I’m a bad mother most of the time” from Berlin; “I wish I could stop beating myself up” from Paris; “I always feel like I should be doing more, and that I can do better” from Korea. These mothers revealed their doubts and insecurities, and every last one confessed to putting up a facade and acting as if she had everything under control.
Just knowing I wasn’t alone was the spark I needed to set off a two-year self-help journey during which I read, studied, evaluated, and tested advice from self-help books, spiritual gurus, mindfulness conferences, meditation teachers, other mothers and of course Oprah (because, duh.) The insight, tools, and advice I collected and applied to my own life changed everything. I went from broken to whole, from silent to vocal, from embarrassed to proud.
Soon after, I began dedicating my life to making the lives of mothers easier. Today, as the founder and CEO of The Mom Complex, my team and I work alongside brands such as Johnson & Johnson, Chobani and Pinterest to turn the pain points of mothers into new products and services to make their lives easier. And I connect with mothers directly through speaking engagements, self-help workshops, this blog and upcoming book titled Slay Like a Mother: How to destroy what’s holding you back so you can live the life you want (Sourcebooks, March 2019).
Making the shift from worrier to warrior is not easy. It took twenty years to realize self-doubt was controlling my life, two years to figure out how to destroy it and four years (including over 25 rejections) to sell a book to a publisher on how to help other women do the same.
Recently, I noticed my dragon of self-doubt trying to rear its ugly head and insist that I wasn’t impressive/strong/smart enough to write a book. But I shut that bitch radio down, kept working and learned a life-changing lesson along the way. I never needed piles of accolades and accomplishments to save me from my self-doubt; I just needed a sword so I could save myself.
And that’s all you’ll ever need, too.