How to Deal With the Demon of Doubt

After a long night at work I returned home to discover a surprise in my inbox:

“Congratulations! We are excited to inform you that your application has been reviewed and you can start studying at UoPeople in the upcoming term!”

I sat and stared at that email for an hour. I was accepted? Just like that?

They’re joking, right?

I logged into the website. It was real. While they were still processing the paperwork I’d submitted to prove that I was fluent in the English language, I had been accepted to study at their University.

I thought I would be excited. I thought I would shout my happiness to the entire world.

But I wasn’t.

I was terrified.

What in the world do you think you’re doing? My demons raged. You just committed two to four years of your life to acquiring a stupid piece of paper! By the time you get done, you’ll be so old that no one will want to hire you in an office job so you’re just throwing your money away. Just think! That $2,000 could be invested and net you about $200 a year! And just where do you think you’re going to get the time to do this, missy? You’ve got your job, your writing business, your personal investment studies…there is NO WAY you can handle all of this! It’s not like you haven’t tried before. How many times have you failed college in the past when you were younger and had the energy to spare? You’re too tired, you’re too old, and you’re too broke to even think about doing something this stupid. Stop chasing the rainbows!

Doubt = Fear

Every single doubt that we have is simply fear coming to the surface. Every single doubt comes from the negative words people have said to us in the past.

“You’re great at starting stuff but you never follow through; if it wasn’t for me you’d starve.”

“It’s a shame that child was even born. With the parents she was stuck with she’ll never amount to anything.”

“You might have book sense but you don’t have a bit of common sense.”

“I don’t know why you even bother; it’s impossible to get rich so you might as well enjoy what you’ve got right now!”

“You need to stop working so hard and get a good man to take care of you.”

The words may be different but the damage is the same. You internalize those doubts and every time you discover an opportunity to better yourself they come back to haunt you. They force you to question yourself just long enough for the opportunity to pass and you end up wishing that you’d made the leap too late.

How to Conquer the Demon of Doubt

While you may not be able to silence the demons completely there is something you can do to minimize their trauma.

All you have to do is analyze their objections one by one.

Two thousand dollars may net me $200 a year in passive income but a degree can help me acquire a job that pays considerably more than I can earn right now. Jobs that require an Associate’s Degree start at around $24,000 a year in this area. That is 150% more than my current wage. If I invest most of that extra 150% I will more than compensate for the loss of passive income now.

Two thousand dollars would allow me to escape the drudgery of manual labor. Considering how badly my shoulder aches after a busy day scanning at the register, how my feet sometimes swell painfully after my shifts, and the varicose veins that are starting to form on one leg, my body needs that reprieve. It may even allow me to extend my working years even further. Many of my compatriots aren’t physically able to continue doing manual labor into their 70s. Considering how hard I’ve used my body, there is a good chance I won’t be able to either. Because of this, if I don’t spend $2,000 now, the odds are high that another injury will doom me to spending the rest of my life begging for Disability payments.

I have no desire to spend my sunset years in poverty.

I’ve become so adept at managing my time that I know I am capable of handling a single class. I may have less time to blog. I may have less time to work on my book. I may have less time to hang out with friends and chat but I am confident that I can carve out the time for a single class.

As for the reasons I failed in the past no longer apply. I no longer have to choose between my family and myself. I’ve enough income that I can afford to take a class or two a semester if I pare down my investments a bit. I’m even due for another review over the next month so my income may even go up a bit.

As for the length of time it would take to complete the degree program I have decided not to worry about that. Instead, I choose to focus on the step that’s right in front of me: a single class. I’ll worry about the next steps when I get there, content in the fact that eventually I will reach my objective.

What reasons do you use to knock the demon of doubt away in your life? Please share your stories in the comments below.

16 thoughts on “How to Deal With the Demon of Doubt”

  1. Congrats, Annie, you did it! So proud of you!

    Yes, self doubt and fear are very hard to deal with. Somehow, though, I have always been able to “feel the fear and do it anyway”. What helps me is to imagine the worse case scenario, and then figure out a contingency plan if the worst case scenario were to come true. Then, I figure, I already have a plan if things go badly. That enables me to just get started doing the thing that scares me. (And, so far, the worst case hasn’t scenario has never come to pass. Go figure!)

    1. Hi Tina!

      I read in a book once that a successful gentleman was tormented with fear and self-doubt until the day came when he started asking himself “what’s the worst that can happen?” In this case, I may be out a bit of money and time but the experience received will more than compensate for it.

      That said, my demons are still raging. I intend to ignore them the best that I can.

  2. Congrats!!!

    And don’t worry about how long it may take you to get there. As I said, just learning and keeping your brain limber is an immediate payoff. If it works out, fantastic; f you try it and decide it’s not what you want, then you’ll have the knowledge that it wasn’t for you and you won’t always be wondering/regretting. Either way, it’s a win!

    1. Thanks, Melanie!

      I’ve always been fascinated by business; if anything, the education will help me grow my own personal businesses (like this writing business) in the future. They offer classes in e-commerce, which is something I believe will be very useful. I’d debated on taking classes on e-commerce and marketing for a while but it is such a challenge to sort the scams from the legitimate offers that I feel more comfortable going this route. The prices are similar to what I would have paid for a basic internet marketing class and I will end up with a degree that may allow me to increase my income in the public arena until I am financially able to stop working a public job once more.

      So yes, this is a definite win. It has been frustrating to learn of job opportunities that I knew I could handle that were closed to me because I didn’t possess a single piece of paper.

  3. You are known for your in depth research yet this worries me a bit. I know a guy who just got an associates degree from an online school in spite of the fact that he reads and writes at a 3rd grade level. Please, be sure this school is a good one before investing in it.

    1. Thanks for your question, Linda!

      This school is accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC), which is recognized by the Council of Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). They partnered with schools like Edinburgh University along with multiple businesses in order to provide the education that businesses require without the high cost. While I can’t speak for other students, I am personally having to prove that I am fluent in the English language before I can take my first courses. If it is established that I am not I will be required to take remedial English classes.

      All students have to either provide proof of attaining a high school education or the equivalent; considering how some high schools will allow certain students to “slide” by I am not surprised that the person you mentioned lacks in areas. High school is supposed to provide a certain quality of education, after all.

      That said, in the case you mentioned I would blame the high school rather than the college that accepted him. College requires a HUGE amount of reading (this one especially, since almost everything is text-based), so the man is at a definite disadvantage if he manages to pass at all.

      My primary focus when I researched the school was to make sure that they were accredited by a legitimate organization (they are), and to discover how they managed to keep their fees so low. They passed my vetting. That said, I’m not sure how long they will KEEP their tuition rates as low as they are so I wanted to take advantage while they were.

    1. Yes, Josh. I’m aiming for the Associate’s degree in Business Administration. My only concern is that my research indicates that I may be better off aiming for a Bachelor’s in the field. I’ve got a bit of time before I have to formally decide (I have to take some foundational courses before my major is official) so I have to think long and hard about this.

      I want to increase my education not only to improve my earning potential but to help myself in my personal business endeavors. Would the extra time (and classes) benefit me in the long run? It would be easy to become excited and sign up for the Bachelors but I want to think long and hard before I commit to the additional study.

      What do you think would be best? I would love to hear your opinion.

      1. Hm, looking at the curriculum of both the associates degree and the bachelor’s degree, it looks like the only two classes that are required for the Associates degree but not the Bachelor’s are BUS 1102 (Basic Accounting) and BUS 2204 (Personal Finance) (and BUS 1102 is a prerequisite for some of the required classes for the bachelor). So if you start with the associates and transfer into the bachelor’s you have taken one extra class (BUS 2204), as long as you choose electives that will work for both. There also may be some limits on how long you can take to finish a degree (or how long you can count a class for the degree). So I expect (but if you can find out a definite answer by asking someone at the university or searching the website, you should) that if you choose associates and switch to bachelors later you just have to pay the application fee again and fill out some more paperwork. If you are taking two classes a year (1 a semester) I think that is ten years for an associates, so I would go for the associates and switch if you find that you can take more classes at a time.

        1. Thank you so much, Josh! I really appreciate your help.

          Unlike many colleges, this one offers five semesters a year. An Associate’s Degree at that school requires 20 courses, so if I take just one class a semester (and don’t skip any semesters), it would take 4 years to complete the program. They allow a generous 25 semester time period to complete the degree.

          That said, I do believe you are right. With that small of a difference between the Associate’s and the Bachelor’s, I would save both time and money by selecting the Associate’s Degree.

          Thank you. I feel much better about it now.

          1. I didn’t think of this until after I got off of the computer, but the opposite is also true, if you start with the bachelors degree, you could switch to the associates because of the class overlap. So either way works, you can switch later if you change your mind. Anyway I wish you good luck (since I am sure you can provide the hard work).

            And at least for me I found that what I learned doing the classwork was only about a third of what I learned in college. The rest was when I found out something interesting, and then went and learned even more about it on my own.

          2. Thanks, Josh.

            I’ve looked through both programs and I find myself fascinated by some of the classes offered in the Bachelor’s Degree, such as the one on Business Law and Ethics. I believe I will play it by ear, starting out with the Associate’s to see how well I do before deciding to continue. As much as I want to further my education, I don’t want to push myself too hard and burn out. The goal is to not only improve myself but to enjoy the process, after all.

            I am very conscious of the fact that the Associate’s degree takes half the time to attain. If I acquired the Associate’s, then I could secure a better paying job, which would make attaining a Bachelor’s easier financially should I desire to do so.

  4. So glad to see you’re doing this! I’ll look into University of the People as well.

    As to the demons, I’ve been dealing with a few of my own lately, to the point that it’s thrown the financial progress off a bit, but today is a new day, and a new week starts tomorrow. We will make it.

    1. Hang in there, MacKenzie! I know things are a bit rough at the moment but I have every faith that you will get through this. Sending love!

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