And then I decided it was time to see a therapist

It’s just like in the Disney movies, when the hero has a moment of doubt. She turns away from those who love her, runs away into the vast unknown, compass whirling around in circles, unmoored. Usually, a dragon or a talking tree or another sidekick or magical wise being comes and sings her a song and shows her who her true self is. Then, reinvigorated with a new sense of purpose and confidence, she goes back to face her doubts and fears. Inevitably, she triumphs, saving the village and showing the entire world exactly who she is, and they love her for it.

Except, it’s not like that in real life. You don’t get raised on shoulders when you save the village. When you have a moment of doubt and you turn away, nobody comes and sings you a song about yourself. Nobody comes to you dressed in cheerleader skirts and says “You see? You had it in you all along!” No. When you let doubt overtake you and you run, you just keep running. You keep wandering from place to place, searching for the pieces to make you whole again.

Even if you have a sidekick who comes and says those words to you, they sound hollow. Maybe they’re saying it just because they feel like they have to. Because that’s what friends do. But you can’t feel that platitude in yourself, so you say “I guess” and let it plop dully into that hollow spot in you where that ineffable thing was supposed to reside. Your sidekick doesn’t know. They don’t inhabit your body, can’t feel it deep in their bones like you can. They’re not a magical wise being who’s clued in to the universe. They’re just as disordered and disconfident as you are, running away from their own moments of doubt.

They, like you, have to figure out for themselves why they didn’t get that promotion, why they went for that promotion in the first place, why they compulsively check their inboxes, why they drink too much or eat too much, live with the consequences of their decisions and what it means for the identity they had painstakingly constructed for themselves over the course of years and decades, and which appears to have slowly eroded over time, or perhaps catastrophically destructed in an instant like a dynamited building.

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