The Inner Critic

Roslyn Kent's Hawaii Image

I’ve had some concerned family members and friends message me in the last week regarding some of my not so bubbly Instagram posts. These concerns not only reminded me of how much the people in my life care about me, but they also made me realize that everything will definitely be okay, whether I can see the light up ahead or not.

You see, I’ve kind of been in a slump lately. One of those down-and-out moods that lasts for several days, and eventually, the prolonged feeling of being stuck gets to you in more ways than one. While I only started feeling like this about one unfavourable thing that was going on in my life, this negative energy eventually starting seeping into the other parts of my life too; and before I knew it, I started to feel sorry for myself. What for, exactly? Well, that’s the thing. When I added it all up, it sounded a lot less defeating than I originally painted it to be.

As many of you know, I am planning a three-month trip to SE Asia and Australia. If you’re a seasoned traveller, then you’ll understand how much money you need to travel for this length of time in order to enjoy your trip and come home with a bit of spending money. This requires a job, which requires a lot of hard research. So far, I’ve made minimal progress in this search. I’ve applied for over 30 jobs, and from this, I’ve received one rejection email and one interview—that’s it. My inner critic started telling me that I’ll never find a job, and after some time, I actually started to believe this deceptive voice. I let it convince me that I’m not qualified, I’m not experienced, and I’m not as confident in myself as other candidates probably are—how would I get a job?

Then, later in the week, I received a paper back from one of my options classes. What was suppose to be one of my easiest classes this semester (a class devoted entirely to learning about the Calgary Stampede), has turned into one of my most difficult. Let’s just say that that paper had the worst mark I’ve received thus far in my university degree, and I’m in my last term of my last year.

I also started to experience problems with one of roommates, and I began to feel uncomfortable in my own home. I’m usually not one to take criticism or judgement personally, but in this scenario, because of my own built up negativity, I took everything that my roommate had said to me very, very personally. This inevitably caused me to listen to my inner critic, yet again. I started to internalize my roommate’s words, and I even found myself asking, is she right about me?

And then, of course, there’s the inevitability that follows my grand trip across the world—what the heck am I going to do once that ends? This is a question I’ve been asking myself for months now, and despite my best efforts, the answer never becomes any clearer.

And then, today, it hit me. I didn’t stumble upon my life purpose or my future career, I didn’t make amends with my roommate, and I didn’t get a callback from a job I applied for. I did, however, realize something far more important.

My inner critic is only as nasty as I let it be. I have two options: listen to this voice inside my head, or brush it off and keep moving forward; let the opinions of others skew the image I have of myself, or try to be the best person I can be and show those people that they were wrong. One is quite obviously easier than the other, but that being said, the “easy” option in life usually isn’t the best, either.

Negativity multiplies ten fold the moment you let it take control of your emotions. Changing your mindset means changing the way you look at others, yourself, and your current situation. It means focusing on the present without stressing about the far future, and above all, it means letting go of the words of others and the unknown circumstances that you cannot control. Because at the end of the day, these kinds of anxiety will fully consume you if you let them, and eventually, you will only end up playing a mind game with yourself—not the people who called you names and not the job you never got; just you, your mind, and that critical voice inside your head that tries to tell you you’re worthless.

The thing is, as humans, we ebb and flow like water. We go through storms to get to the calm and just when we think we have everything figured out, life throws us into a tsunami that makes us feel like we’ll never make it out on the other side.

But that’s the thing. Because we’re human, we’re allowed to feel like giving up and we’re allowed to feel like we’ve been dealt a faulty deck. These feelings are okay so long as you realize that if it’s not okay, it’s probably not the end.

Tides come in and out in the same way that life fluctuates. You just have to learn how to ride the waves.