Uncertainty & the Big Green Monster

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Top of the mornin’ to ya, friends! How goes it? Things are actually moving relatively smooth over here. I got a legit nights sleep, woke up early so I could actually respond to emails and read a few blogs and I’m enjoying a big fat piece of peanut butter cake with my coffee. This morning doesn’t suck, for sure.

Now, before anything else, it’s time to announce the lucky winner of the Orka Steamer Giveaway! And the drum roll please…

aka, Angy! Congrats, girl!

Now, before we hop into today’s real life post, gulp, I have to share something I made y’all!

Gluten-free brownies. Made with BLACK BEANS! I know, I’m a weirdo. But trust me, they are incredibly delicious.

Want the recipe? Check out Healthy Foodie Travels who has the very recipe posted. GO NOW!

If only all of life woes could be solved by a simple brownie. Wouldn’t that be rad? As promised, I’m going to talk about real life problems today that sadly can’t be fixed by a delicious brownie or even a dip into the peanut butter jar. But, don’t worry, I’m going to inter-spruce this heavy post with some pretty pictures of Charleston. Ah, my peaceful place.

Uncertainty, jealousy. Not two new words to y’all and not new feelings to me, however, lately, it’s all I’ve been feeling.Things on the back end of this pretty little blog haven’t been pretty the past couple weeks and I don’t blame you for not realizing it. I can slap on a happy face and dance around like the best of them.

Nothing serious is wrong, I’m not dying, sick or getting divorced, for example. I’m just struggling with ME, my identity and where I think I belong in this crazy world. I know how lucky I am to do what I do. Trust me. I cook, bake, craft, take pictures and write, all day. And get paid for it! I’ve gone from 2 articles a month to 5 a day, so clearly I’m doing something right. You’d think that would give me some sort of confidence and certainty in what I do, but it doesn’t. In fact, I’m not more self conscious and uncertain than ever.

I’ve come a long way with this blog, in all aspects of it. I’ve grown as a writer, a photographer and a baker/cook. My views have tripled and I’ve made some amazing friends. However, each  day, I’m constantly questioning every single thing I do, doubting every move I make and giving in to the big green monster at every turn. There’s a lot of incredibly talented people in the food blogging world, and instead of feeling encouraged and inspired by their posts, I feel dissapointed in my own. Every beautiful picture I see Kita post or every delicious, innovative recipe I see on How Sweet It Is, I feel more and more insecure about my own content, my own recipes, my own photography. No matter how well something of mine turns out, the big green monster takes over and I’m filled with jealousy of what it COULD HAVE BEEN if I had the right camera, the right lighting, more money, the right props, etc, etc, etc.  No matter what I do, it’s never enough. And you know what? That feeling is crippling.

I’m not writing this to get pity, gosh no. I’m just writing it because if I don’t, I’m going to burst. Growing up as the fat girl, the chubby cousin, “thunder thighs”, confidence wasn’t something I had a whole lot of. Then, I went to college, lost 25 pounds and it hit me like a sack of bricks. I started to feel pretty, thin, unstoppable. That, of course, led to disaster, but that’s for another day, another page in my memoir. My confidence was shattered again. However, I moved to Georgia, joined the school paper and found a major that I loved and you know what? I was good at. Confidence regained. I was on top of the world and my department, nothing could stop me. Oh, and my body? Never looked better. Well, you know, that was until I graduated, got a job at the bottom of the totem poll then was immediately reminded how “little” I was. Confidence? Disappearing with each second I was pushed around and told to make copies. It wasn’t until I lost my job, found one were I was appreciated, respected and valued that my confidence resurfaced. My weight was manageable and I had it all figured out. Then, things got better. I got an amazing chance to freelance for She Knows and, like you know, went from an article a month to where I am now. Despite a great career and successful articles, my confidence in me, my job, my worth is on shaky grounds again.

Very fitting photograph, right? Rest in Peace Claire’s confidence. In all reality, I know why I’m feeling like this. I’m 26 years old and despite having an AWESOME job, I don’t make trunks full of money. I’m living paycheck to paycheck, trying to get by. And you know what’s disheartening? Having friends who are my age and YOUNGER making 6 figures. I know, money isn’t the key to happiness, but I see people who are really successfull, really determined and I wonder “should I have stayed in corporate? Should I have stayed climbing the ladder in an office position?” For many people who I’ve voiced this to, they’ve shot back “NO! YOU HATED IT! YOU’RE HAPPY NOW!” Half of that is true, yes. I did. But the uncertainty and what-if is starting to weigh down on me. I  didn’t like sitting in a cube from 9 – 5 but I liked having money to put towards my debts, add to a savings and you know, like live with. Not being comfortable financially makes it harder to be comfortable with my job, no matter how much I like it.

As I preluded to before, another cause for uncertainty in my life is blogging. I love blogging. I love the people I’ve met, the opportunities that have arisen from it, the stress relief it provides. But that’s not the only reason I blog. I blog, in hopes, that more chances, more success and more opportunities will come from it. Does that make me horrible? I hope not. I’d be hard pressed to meet one blogger who only does it for love and isn’t driven by traffic. But because of this, it’s hard NOT to feel insecure and a bit uncertain when other blogs are doing so well and you’re kinda just floating there in your corner of the internet. I’m always so incredibly proud of my peers but a twinge of jealousy always comes with that. “Why not me?” “What am I doing wrong?” I know this is a normal feeling but lately, it’s really been taken over. I’ve lost the ability to just be happy for my friends, which is the WORST feeling in the entire world.

The one thing that I am certain about is my future. I’m going to go to culinary school, I’m going to open a little skinny cafe in Charleston, I’m going to write a book [re: memoir]. The timeline is hazy but I stand by these goals and aspirations. Thankfully, when I’m starting to feel uncertain about my abilities, my talents, my success, I know that I have these things to push me through. I can’t say that’s enough though. I wish there was an easy anecdoate to feeling jealous and uncertain all the time. I wish I could turn it off like a light switch. But, life isn’t that easy, as we know.

I just hope I can find a way to deal with these issues and move past them. I guess I wrote this to A) get it off my chest B) hope and pray one of you have gone through this and know how to get past it! How do you feel confidant and certain? What are your secrets to not letting the green monster in? I love my job, my husband, my family and my life, and I want to love them without uncertainity, without jealousy. I just want to be happy for people without feeling like I’ve done something wrong. Does anyone have an anecdote for that?

So, thanks guys. For listening, not judging me and for helping me get through this. I’m going to go try to find a way to invent the magic, bad-feeling-erasing brownie.

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  1. Posted by Elliot S Volkman on
    Thursday, May 10th, 2012
    Oh wife. I love you. You are not and have never been fat. You are always going to be supported, even if the school you want costs more than our car, or you decide to become an assassin. 
  2. Posted by Gretchen on
    Thursday, May 10th, 2012
    Oh Clairebear. First of all, I second Elliot's comment, that while I understand you not being happy at your current weight, you should in no way feel encumbered by the thought that you don't look amazing, because you do. You look healthy and fit, super stylish and beautiful. So there's that.

    As for all the other stuff, I do hope that getting it all out here has helped -- provided a little catharsis. I know that blogging about all my uncertainty and quarter-life-crisis stuff definitely helped me clear my head a little. It's totally, 100% normal to question and doubt yourself. You took a big risk in quitting the corporate life to freelance, and it is totally understandable that you might need some time to adjust to that. The grass is ALWAYS greener. Right now from behind the confines of my cubicle, going back to school seems amazing. But I'm sure that once I'm making no money again, paying off debts, studying, and having no life again, I'll miss the breezy life I had as an administrative stooge. No situation is ever going to be 1000% perfect. It's about being able to focus on the things that do make you happy and make your situation livable. You love to cook, create, and write. You get paid to do those things! You have a supportive, loving husband who is there for you too. You're not in this alone! And as for the comparison element, believe me, I get that. I REALLY get that. Eventually though, you will either let it break you or make you. You can stay getting wrapped up in comparing your pictures to others, your pageviews to others, or you can use that to motivate you to work harder. And yes, the part that sucks is that sometimes it is just about luck, being in the right place at the right time, and knowing the right people. But hard work also pays off, and you have your own blog's success as a reminder of that. Just think about where your pageviews were when we first met!

    The bottom line is, you're doing great. You have a lot of good things happening in your life, so try not to let the unknowns swallow you up. You are young, talented, and have a lot of time and ambition. You're going to be just fine, and that is something that I am CERTAIN on. :)
  3. Posted by Angy on
    Thursday, May 10th, 2012
    :o! Oh my god! Thank you!

    I feel like that sometimes. I'm always questioning whether or not my choices are the best that I could have made in that moment and how they will impact me in the long run. You are incredibly brave to have pursued what you loved. It will pay off it the end. Everything always works out in the end.
    • Posted by Claire Gallam10 on
      Friday, May 11th, 2012
      I guess it can be a blessing in disguise. When you stop challenging yourself, what's the point? 

      Can you email me (info is in my contact page) so you can claim your prize?
  4. Posted by Melanie on
    Thursday, May 10th, 2012
    All I can say is, WORD.  From someone who is hoping to be a former fatty.  Step one: run that 5k!
  5. Posted by Abby on
    Thursday, May 10th, 2012
    You're so right to say we've all been there, whether it's about blogging or something else.  Honestly when I find myself in that place I read http://www.lifeasanartistpreneur.com/    her words always help me find a piece of perspective, go for a walk and remind yourself this is YOUR journey, other people have their road and you will have your own unique road (I have to say, your road is pretty damn amazing!!), it's not better or worse, both have ups and downs, enjoy it.  

    PS.  Hubby of the year award right there!! :)  
    • Posted by Claire Gallam10 on
      Friday, May 11th, 2012
      Wow, thanks for sharing that site!!! She's an incredible writer, it's definitely a great place, virtually, to go and clear your head!
  6. Thursday, May 10th, 2012
    Your blog is one of my favorite blogs to read. It's also good to hear that I am not the only one that looks at other blogs (like YOURS) and wonders if mine isn't good enough or will ever be good like this one or that one. In fact, I had my blog for 8 months before I made a single post because I was too intimidated to start.  This kind of sharing, like what you did here, I imagine, a lot of people can relate to.  You are doing GREAT!  You have awesome goals.  Posting them makes them real.  You are young.  You will attain those goals, I have no doubt.  Hang in there and keep going!  WE love you!
  7. Thursday, May 10th, 2012
    I and a few of my friends have gone through the same questioning. I think we get to a certain point in our life where we want more whether it be happiness, money, what have you. I think it is important to remember that we are loved and that we are important in the whole sceam of things in this world. When I feel this way, my wonderful husband and daughter bring a smile to my face and I continue on with my life. If there are changes that you want to make, go ahead and make them (your hubby agrees!). Also remember that many people read your posts. They just may not leave a comment ;-)
    • Posted by Claire Gallam10 on
      Friday, May 11th, 2012
      I think it's part age and just part being in a profession with SO many talented people! And thanks, you're right!
  8. Posted by healthyfoodietravels on
    Thursday, May 10th, 2012
    I do know how you feel - I love my wife, what I do, my cat. I do struggle with weight eternally, sometimes doing stellarly, sometimes doing awfully. I am successful, doing better than my peers on average, and still I feel like everyone else will always be better than me. Interestingly I think it's connected to a certain amount of ego that has been built up by doing better than others, so I'm really quite a weird hyppocrite.
    It does get better. There's no secret solution, but it does help to take time, breathe look at those accomplishments you've been proud of and let them sink in. <3 Hang in there.
  9. Thursday, May 10th, 2012
    Everybody feels like this sometimes.  I've always found the only way to get past it is to look at perspective.  You have more than some and less than others.  That pretty much describes everybody unless they are at the very top or bottom.  Look at how many rich celebrities self destruct.  Whenever I want more than I have I stop to count my blessings and realize just how many there are.  Thinking that others make more money than you?  Realize how many don't have a job and are now homeless.  Think someone else has a cuter husband?  Realize how many are all alone and miserably lonely.  And so on and so on.  Volunteer at a soup kitchen, a hospital or an old age home.  That will get you over this really, really fast.
    • Posted by Claire Gallam10 on
      Friday, May 11th, 2012
      Thanks Anita. I love your idea about volunteering, I think that's exactly what I need to do for a little perspective.
  10. Posted by Erin on
    Thursday, May 10th, 2012
    We can each other be ourselves and be happy with our own decisions. There's no point in comparing ourselves to others because, well, we can't be anyone but ourself. I think you're pretty great! :) 
    • Posted by Claire Gallam10 on
      Friday, May 11th, 2012
      Thank you Erin! I just wish I knew that :(
  11. Posted by Chloe on
    Thursday, May 10th, 2012
    I really appreciate you posting this.  I am 18, and just started my own blog a couple of months ago, and believe it or not, I look at YOUR blog with envy! The pictures, the stories, the recipes... it's all fantastic! I check it every day, and love to see new posts.  You have a really great thing going here :)

    And I understand about being envious of your friends.  No matter what age we are, we go through those times where we just want to sit on the couch with a jar of peanut butter and ask, "Why can't that be me?"  I guess it's during those times that we have to remind ourselves that somewhere out there, most likely not that far from where we are, there is someone who would look at everything we have and go, "Why can't that be me?"  You sound like you have an enormous appreciation for what life has given you and what you have worked for. 

    If you want an anecdote, here's one: My friend is quite literally one of those people that Fortune just smiles on.  She was Homecoming queen, runner-up for prom queen, head cheerleader, class president, and always had a boyfriend.  That was just high school.  We met when we both made the cheerleading squad in college, both as alternates.  While she cheered every football game, I sat in the stands because I (honestly) didn't have as much skill as she did.  So I worked my butt off, literally.  I dropped 12 pounds over an eight week period, got my skills back, and dedicated myself to making it on that field.  But when tryouts came around this year, I was the one that was cut.  My friend is an incredibly hard worker, always putting in 110% effort, but I couldn't help but be upset because she made it and I didn't.

    What I learned though is that there is something bigger out there that I'm meant to be doing, even if I don't know it yet.  And I think that's what is great for you--you said you're headed to culinary school and opening a bakery.  That's amazing!  That takes a TON of guts and I think that shows that no matter who has more page-views, you are proving that you're going to work harder and put your heart into whatever you're doing.

    So, chin up! You run an amazing blog and seem to have an incredible support system.  My mom always tells me you have to break DOWN before you break THROUGH.  You can do it!

    • Posted by Claire Gallam10 on
      Friday, May 11th, 2012
      Chloe, this is so sweet. Thank you much for posting this and sharing your struggle! It's one of the hardest things I'm going to have to  learn how to do!
  12. Posted by Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love. on
    Thursday, May 10th, 2012
    First, I think all bloggers would be lying if they said they didn't look at other blogs with envy! I always feel the same way. I just keep telling myself that I am still new to all this and I am going to take it one day at a time. I was driving myself trying to figure out how I could grow my blog. I know I've come a long way since I started my blog a year ago, but I also know I have a lot more to learn! And you, my friend! I have looked at your blog with envy! Your pictures are beautiful and I'm so excited for the new design! If I remember correctly, you recently decided to embark on the freelance writing and culinary school journey. It takes time! You will get there, I know it!

    AND on top of being an awesome blogger, you are GORGEOUS!
  13. Posted by Carolyn on
    Friday, May 11th, 2012
    Aw honey...it's human nature to compare ourselves with other people all the time.  Just try not to do it with excess.  You are clearly good at what you do, so take pride in THAT!
  14. Posted by Jen on
    Friday, May 11th, 2012
    I don't know anyone who doesn't struggle with the big green monster from time to time!  We are raised in a society where we are taught to want more - more stuff, more money, better relationships, more success.  It's difficult to allow yourself to redefine success in a way that is meaningful to you and not what you think everyone measures your success by.

    I can totally relate to what you're going through because a year and a half ago I felt the same way - kind of lost.  I'd become a wife and a mom and so many other things and lost myself along the way.  Here I am now, a year into culinary school myself (which is everything I hoped it would be and more), writing a blog which fulfills me in ways I cold never imagine, and feeling an internal peace I haven't felt in a VERY long time.

    Just take it one day at a time and have faith that things will work out.  You'll get there!  In the meantime, if you need some encouragement, the door is always open!
    • Posted by Claire Gallam10 on
      Friday, May 11th, 2012
      Thank you Jen! Your support really means a lot!
  15. Posted by Katie on
    Friday, May 11th, 2012
    Ok, I must try those brownies! (I just won't tell my bf what's in them...)
  16. Posted by Susan on
    Friday, May 11th, 2012
    This was such a poignant post for me to read ... I don't necessarily relate to trying to make a blog a 'career' networking tool, but I do relate to looking with envy at others' blog successes. Whenever i feel that way, I go back and look at my blog's little 'mission statement' ... it really is the reason I started my blog ... it is a place for me to record the best and most interesting foods that I eat, and give my children (and the world of blog readers) a place to find good food. It is a personal journaling journey for me. That being said, I have wanted to take better photos, make foods that captured the 'foodbuzz' folk, and improve my writing ... and it's frustrating sometimes when I fail at those goals, but life goes on. Those are the times when I stop and return to my 'little mission'  ... the big green monster goes away because I'm being true to myself and if other like that ... great. If not, oh well ...

    I think it's important to remember that one tries to one's best ability when putting together blogs, other issues in life sometimes intervene and make blogging difficult, but one moves on ...the creative cycle ebbs and flows and one moves on, the career goals change and morph and one moves on, change and reflection are the keys ... and being true to your values and your little mission. Damn the big green monster!
  17. Posted by Vgantley on
    Friday, May 11th, 2012
    You are exactly where you need to be right now. There is a reason you wrote this post. I dont think any of us bloggers could say we never felt that way once or twice. Some people do it for the money. Oprah once said that you have to love what you do. If you are in it for the money, then the money will not work for you. Everything happens for a reason. Keep blogging, eventually it will all come into place. As far as hits etc. People go at different paces. Its the climb my friend. Enjoy the moment, or else it will pass you by.