I’ve been a bit MIA from this blog for a while. Not just from this blog but from many things social media and YouTube as well.
The thing is when you deal with mental health issues, sometimes being consistent with your content is a far greater challenge than others may realize. A big part of what I do is sharing my story with others so that I may offer them some inspiration or guidance in how they may positively impact their own lives through better action. And while I am committed to helping others with learning to manage their mental health, I must stay aware of how I manage my own mental health. Like I tell others all the time, you can’t pour from an empty cup.
But that isn’t the complete story as to why I stepped back from being so active. The truth has been a little more hard to deal with on my end, but as usual, I want to share it. It was not something I expected or could have predicted… but it happened none-the-less.
After I released my book at the end of last year, The Anxiety Dharma, I went through something strange… it’s called imposter syndrome. In this Psychology Today article, Megan Dalla-Camina defines imposter syndrome as “a psychological term referring to a pattern of behavior where people doubt their accomplishments and have a persistent, often internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud.” This is exactly what happened to me and it all came from a very small but hugely impactful mistake I made in my book. One that causes me to cringe even at the idea of writing this post about it.
On the first page, in the third line of my book’s introduction, the book I had been telling people about for months and super excited to finally share, I did something that was, in my mind, unforgivable and caused me to question my very value as a person. What I wrote was this;
“I always wanted to be a father. As far back as I could remember, I wanted to have children. So, you would naturally assume that in July 2006, when my daughter, Lilianne was born, it would have been the happiest moment of my life.”
But here’s the problem… my daughter was born in June not July.
Through all the rounds of proofing, rewrites, and rereading over and over, somehow this error made it into the printed version of the book. But not just once… twice! I was crushed.
I couldn’t believe I had made this error. I don’t even know how it was possible. It isn’t as if I don’t know my daughter’s birthday. We always would tell her she had the most perfectly timed birthday ever because she gets presents exactly ever 6 months, June 25 and December 25—her birthday and Christmas. And I didn’t notice this mistake until I had already sold copies and shared them with friends and some family.
My heart sunk. I felt like the world’s worst father. I was racked with guilt and was embarrassed, for both my daughter and myself. How could this have happened? I had no idea. I was crushed.
Making a change like this is easy in today’s print-on-demand world. It wasn’t as if I had thousands of copies sitting in a warehouse waiting to be purchased. It wouldn’t cost me anything at all to make the change, but the emotional and mental cost turned out to be much greater than expected. I suddenly didn’t want anything to do with the book! I didn’t want to talk about it, share it, promote it, or even think about it. This project that I was so excited about and had spent years of my life working on, I suddenly wanted to just go away. Even worse, I began questioning my complete ability to be of value to others. This is what happens when your mental health is such a delicately balanced element in your life. When you are up, you are way up, but when you are down you are all the way down.
It’s taken me quite a few months to even get to a point where I can share this post. I’ve had to take some time and really build myself back up again. The good thing is, I have the tools in which to do that and I know how to use them—it’s many of the same tools I wrote about in the book. And part of that process is coming clean and owning my mistake… and the way I do that is by sharing it with you. And I’m afraid of that. I worry someone will read this and think less of me. Someone will think, “how could he mess up his own daughter’s birthday in his book?” I’m afraid of being judged, afraid of being seen as stupid, afraid of having people think negative things of me because I made a mistake.
But the truth is, I can’t control that. I can’t control what others think of me. And I refuse to live my life trying to control that. I’ve done that for far too long and sacrificed far too many years of my life to that futile endeavor. I am an imperfect person sharing my wonderfully imperfect story with the world. Why? Because I want others to know it’s ok to not be perfect. Perfect is a fantasy. It doesn’t exist. And if it did exist, we probably wouldn’t want it anyway because what we bring us together and makes us unique is often times what we see as our flaws. Our scars and imperfections are what make us human. We are the sum of our actions, good and bad. And if we never make mistakes, if we never fall down, how could we ever learn how to pick ourselves back up? Failure does keep us from succeeding, it is a necessary step along the journey.
So that’s how I killed my book launch and basically sabotaged my first ever publication… by making a mistake. But I’m learning from it and I’m growing. And for that, I’m grateful for the opportunity to screw up in the first place.
If you’d like to check out this book, errors and all, click on this link and pick up a copy at Amazon today. And make sure you come back to this blog where I plan to share even more stories of how I fall down and learn to get back up… so we can all learn and grow together.