Congratulations to Sabita Nadesan for Winning the July 2022 Barefoot Writing Challenge! (Your $100 prize is on its way!)

The challenge was to write an essay that answered this prompt:

Independence Day takes place in the U.S. this month. What would you like to declare independence from, and how will life as a paid writer help you achieve that?

Sabita told a relatable story about a “party” we all get stuck at but want to leave. Enjoy her winning submission:

Independence Day takes place in the U.S. this month. What would you like to declare independence from, and how will life as a paid writer help you achieve that?

Sabita Nadesan
Sabita Nadesan


Have you ever been excited about something? You’ve imagined the outcome, and you’re ready to start. You begin, and about halfway through, a thought suddenly pops into your head. It’s not a big deal — a negative thought that can be squashed. But, then another one pops up. A meaner thought. And at some point, it’s a party. “What if” thoughts are spending time with “But” thoughts that are joining up with the dreaded feeling of failure. It’s a nonstop party — you can never seem to leave.

And what happens to that excitement that was once bubbling over? It’s gone. It’s now replaced with “I can’ts” or “It’s not good enough.”

When we were children, self-doubt was not in our vocabulary. Taking our first steps, we fell, but then tried again and again. We kept at it, and today we walk. We never thought, I can’t do this, What if I fall again?, or This is too hard. We were persistent. We found a way to do it in our time.

But things change, and sometimes not in a good way. From being a persistent, get-back-up-again toddler, my confidence became shaky.

At times, self-doubt is like a restraint holding you back. It stops you from moving forward, always creating doubts. But, it’s not the doubt that actually holds you back — it’s the not doing. It’s not being able to find a way to overcome all those feelings that stops you from making decisions that propel you forward. Instead, doubt is in control. 

So, this Independence Day, I want to be free from self-doubt. I would like to put it in a box and send it on a long trip. I know it will never fully disappear.

Feeling nerves, fear, excitement in small doses is okay. In fact, it helps keep us grounded, prepared, and excited about what we are doing. They are manageable emotions. When self-doubt spirals out of control, it becomes harder.

When speaking to friends and colleagues, I realize we all have feelings of inadequacies and self-doubt. Sadly, some of us can’t pull away from it. Writing can be cathartic. If I put these thoughts to paper and share them with others, then I may be able to connect with others on these shared experiences. These links can help me slowly move past self-doubt, taking solace in the fact that others also feel this way. Or helping others to take solace that I feel this way.

Paid writing can bring me closer to my goal: overcoming self-doubt and just doing. As I submit more content for various projects, whether I fail or succeed, the voice of doubt will become quieter and quieter with each submission. As I hear positive feedback, or book more paying jobs, I can manage the self-doubt to the point it doesn’t hold me back. I can see my value.

And so, I begin my journey with this submission, because this Independence Day, I am overcoming my self-doubt.