belief  (bɪˈliːf)   n 1. a principle, proposition, idea, etc, accepted as true 2. opinion; conviction 3. religious faith 4. trust or confidence, as in a person or a person's abilities, probity, etc.

This word has been following me around all week.  It’s sniffed at the door, followed me to work, sat on the mat and finally, somehow it’s crept around my legs whilst my back was turned and made itself at home in front of the fire (unlit, of course due to the clement weather).  And now I’m wondering if I should give it a basket or would that be an Analogy too far?

Belief isn’t something that I’ve ever had much of.  In myself, or in anything really.  And actually I’m still not entirely sure I know the difference between Believing and Knowing.  I suppose the Knowing is more definite and the more who Know, the deeper the Truth perhaps?  I don’t know; don’t ask me.

My school reports were littered with comments like: ‘easily distracted’ and ‘must learn to focus on the task in hand’ (same thing?) or ‘should have more courage in her own convictions’.  I’m not even sure I had any convictions pre-pubescently anyhow so I don’t know how that one worked.

The thing I discovered whilst growing up was that my belief in anything was only as strong as the belief of those around me.  After all, who was I to hold any belief of any sort?  What qualifications or knowledge did I ever possess that gave me the right to believe in anything anyway?  

It’s a tired old cliché but I do Blame My Parents or rather my upbringing.  I’m almost certain that had I been given an amount (any amount, I’m not greedy) of encouragement, support, permission to believe in anything other than the rigidity of religion, then I wouldn’t be the nervy, anxious, worrying bumblehead you witness today.  I would be self-assured, confident and strongly convinced that I was doing precisely the right thing at any given moment and forging my Life Path in bare feet because I didn’t need the protection of extraneous things to impede my pace.

Sometimes I bump into her; this confident carefree Me who believes and strides and nods purposefully and asserts herself in all manner of definite ways.  I don’t see her face, but from the back she reminds me of the Harmony Hairspray advert.  She knows exactly what to wear, precisely what to say without causing offence and she knows instinctively the right road to cross in order to get to her destination.  In her wake wafts the unmistakable scent of Belief; hypnotic, beguiling; a perfume that still only others can get away with wearing.

I can stand in the queue at Sainsbury’s after I’ve placed all my goods on the belt, waiting for my turn to be served and be overwhelmed with such a sense of  conviction that I’ve bought the ‘wrong’ things – even though I can clearly see them written on my shopping list – that I have a real need to flee back to the aisles and grab whatever it is that I’ve seen on the belt of the person before me because it seems somehow ‘more right’ than the things I’ve placed there.  Such is the disbelief that I can even perform a simple function like pick the correct foodstuffs for the weekly meals without getting it wrong.

Would it be easier to give into the overwhelming belief that what I have is wrong and cast aside my own nonsensical fripperies believing that mine are the purchases of an idiot?  What makes me believe that the lady in front of me has any more clue of what she’s buying than I do?  These are the musings of that mad curly-haired bint as she stands, casseroled in her own sweat and convinced she has the items of a certified fool on the conveyor belt and that the cashier has already got her finger on the ‘lunatic’ button under her till.

So as the worst ambassador for any kind of Belief system, half of me believes that having the dream of seeing a book that I’ve written in print is probably the scariest thing I’ve ever done in my life.  (Yes, even scarier than Sainsbury’s). As Eleanor Roosevelt suggested, I have been doing something that scares me every day without even realising it.  

Okay, and what's the other half of Me up to?

It’s bashing its silly head constantly against the same brick wall.  It knows it hurts. And yet it’s back for more.  It knows it’s hard and that there’re still bruises from the last time.  And there are internal injuries that nobody can see because it’s watched as others have knocked it down or walked straight through without any apparent difficulty.  There must be a reason this wall seems so hard to get through.  Perhaps it’s the wrong wall… maybe it’s the wrong time… maybe it’s the wrong thing to be doing…. uncertainties build a crazy paving to the wall itself and yet still the path is trod. 

It’s persisting.  It’s sticking its lardy writerly arse down every day after proper-paid-work and pleading that the words will come.  It’s brain is fizzing at night with scenes and conversations that won’t go away until either a tablet is taken or the words are committed to paper and it’s demanding to know what the hell ten fingers will get up to if they’re not busied with the process of breathing life into fictional bodies.

So there must be some small sliver of belief somewhere deep inside that keeps me going.  And it’s the setbacks and knockbacks and rejections and blocks and crashes and burns and the bittersweet pain of seeing the successes of others that are there to make certain that my time, when it comes, will feel that much lovelier.

Isn’t it?


Helen Black said...

Belief in yourself is such a factor in the outcome of people's lives, Debs. Not only vis a vis success, but also whether they live happily.

You have to, deep in your core, believe that a. you can do it and b. that you deserve it. Whatever 'it' maybe.

And yes, here upbringing plays a huge role. I was brought up on an estate in a grim northern town. People weren't encouraged to step outside their box. In fact they were derided if they did. 'Who do you think you are?'

But I had a secret weapon; my Mum. Without any suppriting evidence whatsoever, she decided I was special, that she had belief in me and so I should believe in myself. It stuck!
HB x

Susie Nott-Bower said...

Oh, Debs, what a moving post. Please do hang in there. Build up your belief piece by piece until it's a match for those bloody brick walls. Take confidence from your ability to write BRILLIANTLY.

Caroline Green said...

Ditto what Susie said. And you're right, there's some little sliver of something strong in there that keeps us going through all the hard bits. To move from the cat analogy to the plant one, make sure you keep nurturing yours and giving it space to grow.

DT said...

Wow, that's a post and a half, Debs. Full marks for honesty and openness - that in itself shows a belief in the value of the people you're writing to and in the integrity of your craft. Ultimately, I think, you have to decide what's true for you in terms of beliefs. And that 'truth' can't based upon externals because they're biased and subjective value judgements. Remaining unpublished doesn't make you a bad writer. Not writing and not caring when you do write makes someone a bad writer! Take all that emotion and angst and suppressed rage (I am prone to exaggeration) and pour the molten potential into your writing. Whatever else happens, your words will sing true. PS I can send you a sixpence if it helps - I have a few left!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post, Debs, and brilliantly written! x

Deb said...

Debs, I think a lot of belief comes down to confidence and when you've had it knocked it is hard to get it back again, isn't it?
I often find having an alter ego helps when I'm face with situations where I feel completely incapable, out of my comfort zone etc. She (Ms Alter Ego) is so the opposite of who I am, but she gets me through some tough situations.
Re: the brick wall - stop banging your head on it and get a ladder and climb up over it instead.

Debs Riccio said...

Thanks for the lovely comments everyone. And for the offer of a sixpence, Derek :)I nearly deleted this post before it's 6.00am schedule - I woke up believing it to be the rantings of a deranged bletherer; what my mother would have said was 'feeling sorry for myself'. It's good you guys were listening. :) A ladder you say Deb?