The Paralysis of Self-Doubt

Self-doubt is an inescapable feature of some anxiety disorders, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder. But people who suffer from other types of anxiety can also feel plagued by it. Sometimes to the point of paralysis when faced with important decisions.

**This is a continuation of my last post, Navigating Career Crossroads

What is my dream job? If I could do something that I love, what would it be? Pilates Instructor. It’s never going to happen, but I fantasize about it often.

Why Pilates?

My first experience with Pilates was in early 2014. I graduated from LSU in December 2013, but hadn’t landed a job yet, and I needed something to do in my free time. While driving through town one day, I noticed a Yoga/Pilates/Barre studio that had recently opened. I was interested in trying Yoga, so I purchased a membership at the studio. This gave me access to all the different classes. I quickly discovered that Yoga was not my thing. However, I loved Pilates from the first class! It was challenging, but rewarding.

In July of 2014, I landed a full-time job. Shortly thereafter, I canceled my membership at the studio. The weekend classes were too crowded for my taste; I’d grown accustomed to the smaller weekday classes. Rather than exercising at home, I stopped altogether.

Fast-forward to spring of 2016. I had given birth to my son the previous fall, and the c-section (my second) took a huge toll on my core strength. I couldn’t even do a sit-up. It was (past) time to start exercising again, so I began searching for a Pilates program I could do from home. One name that repeatedly came up in the search results was Blogilates by Cassey Ho. I subscribed to her YouTube channel, determined to get into shape.

And did I ever. I committed myself to exercise 4 or more days a week, even if it was just for 10 minutes at a time. My proudest moment was finally accomplishing the Pilates roll-up – similar to a sit-up, but with your legs extended flat out.

I’m in better shape at 41 than I’ve ever been, though there’s still room for improvement. Any time people ask me what I do to stay in shape, or mention wanting to get back into an exercise routine, I tell them “Do Pilates.” It’s one of the few things I’m passionate about.

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.


While attempting to navigate my recent (ongoing?) career crossroads, I started dreaming of becoming a Mat Pilates Instructor. The idea genuinely excites me. I compiled a list of Pros:

  • On workdays, I don’t take the time to exercise as much as I’d like. After work, I just want to relax with a glass of wine. However, if I’m teaching Pilates classes, I will get to exercise multiple times a day, several days a week. This may not sound appealing to most people, but I would love that!
  • Share my passion with other people; hopefully, it becomes their passion too.
  • Finally get to start MY very own business. Yes, I currently co-own an IT business with Will, but I’m not an IT expert.
  • Create the Pilates studio of my dreams – I have tons of ideas for the design.
  • Come up with a business name, logo,website, etc.. I enjoy the process of creating something from scratch, though I’m not really a creative person.
  • Lastly, I could finally consider myself an expert at something.

If I'm so passionate about Pilates, and excited by the idea of becoming an Instructor and opening a studio, why haven't I done it yet??

The answer is simple – it’s me. I’m the reason I haven’t done it. I talk myself out of doing things before I ever give them a shot. The voices in my head present many Cons:

  • “You can’t even do a pushup. What makes you think you’re qualified to be a fitness instructor?”
  • “Are you capable of talking all the way through a workout? Sometimes you’re struggling just to focus on your breathing.”
  • “Why did the studio in town close? Is there really a demand in your area for a Pilates studio?”
  • “There are soooo many different Pilates certifications, which one should you get?”
  • “Can you really make a living doing this? Or will the business end up failing and then you’re stuck with a pile of debt because you invested so much into this pipe dream?”
  • “Do you really have the personality to instruct group classes? You’re introverted, nervous around groups, and quiet.”
  • “You’re too old.”
  • And finally, “You’re never actually going to make it a reality, so stop dreaming. It’s just like all the other ventures you thought of starting and never did. Give it up and move on with your life. Invest your time and energy into your current business.”

Maybe the voices in my head are right. They make some valid points. Should I listen to them?

Nothing holds me back more than my own self-doubt. Where does it stem from? No one is telling me I can’t do the things I dream of doing. Will, my kids, my family and friends – they all believe in me way more than I believe in myself. So why am I paralyzed from pursuing my dream?

Anxiety. Nervousness. Lack of confidence. Every time I publish a new post, I call Charlotte and ask her to read it and let me know if it’s garbage, or if I can leave it on the blog.

I could have completed my Pilates certification over a year ago – I already have the program picked out. Why haven’t I done it? Because it’s pointless. I’m never actually going to open a studio or create a subscription-based Pilates website or app. I tell myself it’s a waste of time; it won’t be successful. At least that’s how I feel most of the time.

Then some days, I really believe I could do it. Just over the course of writing this post, I’ve been up and down. One minute, I tell myself, “Go for it! Get the certification and figure it out from there. Just take the first step!”

The next minute, I’m back to drowning in self-doubt.

I’ll wrap this up by saying I’m not fishing for votes of confidence; nobody needs to pump up my ego. This is a battle I must fight alone. I wish I had some words of encouragement for those reading this, who are battling the same demon. But I don’t. Yet.

Lastly, it’s obvious from the quote on my sidebar that I’m not a big fan of motivational quotes. However, I ran across the quote below, and I’m going to force myself to read it every day. Maybe I’ll eventually find the courage to act.

It is never too late to be what you might have been.

George Eliot