Conviction in the Face of Doubt

Recently, I listened to a speaker list three significant moments in her past when she doubted her ability to move forward, and how a key figure in her life told her each time, she could do it. His confidence propelled her onward. Things have not always been that way for me. At several important junctures in my life, a key figure told me I should not proceed. Though he thought I was clearly good at some things, this I could not do. While I would’ve preferred to have his faith in me, it was actually his lack of faith that helped drive me forward. Guess I had something to prove.

And that’s how it feels sometimes. Sometimes we have support, sometimes we think we must go it alone. Sometimes many people believe in us, sometimes only one. Sometimes even when we have the backing of significant people in our lives, we still distrust ourselves.

In movies, the hero who changes the world always has that one person who says to her, “Never doubt yourself.” And we in the audience nod our heads and say, “That’s what she needed to hear. Now she’s gonna kick some butt.” But wouldn’t it be truer if that sage character were to say, “Work past your doubts. You can do this.” Because even the greats must feel uncertain occasionally.

If courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to move forward in spite of it, then maybe conviction is not the absence of doubt, but the ability to believe in spite of it.

We often know what’s right for us, our families, our communities, our country. We feel it in our bones, yet we hesitate. We don’t speak our minds, or make a stand, or advance our dreams because we worry we may be wrong or, rather, our naysayers may be right. But if you lean into your conviction, if you trust in what you believe, if you summon up that strength that is always, always inside you, you can say, “Thanks for your concern. But I think I’ll do it anyway.”

In the end, you might even be surprised that the people who first doubted you, come to respect you. Sometimes they can admit they were wrong, sometimes they can’t. But chances are, a part of them will admire you for trusting yourself more than you trusted their cautions. And even if they don’t, it doesn’t matter. You have plenty of other people to support you. One voice does not speak for all. And opinions are just opinions. What you believe matters more.

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