Self-doubt and second-guessing.
It has often seemed to me to be a woman’s thing. Thinking with certainty about something and then the conviction unraveling, a thread at a time. Sometimes, someone’s comment or question starts it, sometimes, the self-doubt and second-guessing just unfurls on its own.
Aliy Zirkle, a champion sled dog musher in Alaska, tells the story of her first big race. Glad to be one of the few women in race, she accepted the invitation from two male mushers to camp with them during a layover. Amidst the chatter and trail talk, one of the men nodded at one of Aliy’s dogs, asleep on a bed of straw, and asked her if she thought the dog looked right to her.
That was all it took for her to doubt herself. Was the dog alright? Did she miss something? Should she drop the dog from the team? The guys knew exactly what they were doing. They were stirring a pot that already had all the ingredients in it. All they had to do was ask a little, harmless question. “That dog look right to you?”
“Yeah, he looks great!”
“I think so. I just checked him out.”
“I’m not sure. What do you think is wrong with him?”
From then on, she camped alone. In fact, Aliy Zirkle is famous for pulling up just short of a checkpoint on the Iditarod’s 1,000 mile trail where she could sleep inside and have a hot meal and instead setting up her own camp to sleep alone with her dogs. She then comes through the checkpoint, has her dogs examined by the vets as required, gets supplies, and forges on, waving to the men resting there together. She keeps her own counsel.
Would that we all learn that lesson.