Self-doubt is a sign that I am growing.
Things that I can do easily do not create self-doubt. I do not get nervous when I ride a bike or use a keyboard. I have had a lot of practice at doing both of these things.
New, complex things create self-doubt. I feel anxiety. I feel confused. I am reluctant.
As a newly commissioned Navy officer, I had self-doubt about my ability to navigate a Navy ship. While going through Naval Officer Candidate School, I learned the basics of navigation. I learned about course and speed through the water. I learned how to know the position of a ship relative to land and the position of a ship in the open sea. Unlike highways and streets, waterways do not have marked lanes, traffic signs, and traffic lights. During classroom training, I learned how navigate a ship safely around other ships at-sea.
When I graduated from Naval Officer Candidate School, I used my classroom training on the bridge of an aircraft carrier, the U.S.S Midway.
What I learned was in a classroom training did not give me confidence that I could do the complex things of navigating a ship at sea. Plotting ships in a classroom is very different from standing on a bridge navigating where there are dozens of other ships around my ship and the positions of those ships change as the position of my ship changes.
For the first five or six months, I still had self-doubts about navigating a ship at sea, especially on an aircraft carrier.
However, through experience, I was growing. Self-doubt changed to self-confidence. Maneuvering a large ship became natural. I did not so much think about how to do things. I simply did things.
What I learned
In the case of navigating a ship at sea, self-doubt was a sign that I needed to grow. I had things to learn. I had skills to develop. However, as I developed those skills, my self-doubt eased. I became more self-confident.
What I learned is that self-doubt is a sign that I have an opportunity to grow. I can learn new things. I can develop new skills. I can gain self-esteem from what I learn. I can grow into a more skillful and useful person.
Image: Temari 09/Flickr