Jaclyn Steele

Dear Self: I know you feel inadequate.

This is the first submission in a series I am titling “Dear Self.”  

They are letters, written to myself, with the purpose of cleaning up some of the sticky stuff in my head…  Like goo gone for my brain and I want to share these thoughts because I think many of these sticky subjects are so intertwined with the fabric of our internal life that we sometimes forget that they also exist outside of ourselves – that other people experience sticky stuff, as well. And sometimes the sticky stuff is the very thing that binds us together.

So, welcome to the inner workings – where the pollen is harvested, refined, and hopefully, at some point, turned into honey.

Dear Self,

You received an interesting proposition today.  

A well connected gentlemen you met in Los Angeles last spring reached out to you and asked if he could share your new music with some people he knows in the music industry in Nashville.  

When you met him and he mentioned he had friends in Music City you wondered what kind of friends they were.  You’ve learned, the hard way, not to get your hopes up too quickly.  This fact often saves you from heartache but it also makes you sad because it reminds you that you live in a world where promises are made and thrown away like day old bread.

Your mind wanders to 4 years ago when you met with TLC’s former manager and he said that you should move to Atlanta and that he would “be in touch” about next steps and then nothing happened… after you moved.

Your mind also wanders to an even darker place… one riddled with thoughts of doubt and inadequacy.  Who am I to think I could perform in that realm?  Who am I to think I am good enough?  Talented enough?  Thin enough?  Smart enough?  Young enough?  Pretty enough?  … Enough?

You circle back to the conversation you had with this gentlemen where he asked you about your music.  “Do you write songs?”  “Do you sing them?”  “Do you play an instrument?”  “I was invited to the ACM’s this weekend but I’ve been traveling so much that I really don’t want to leave again so soon.”

The Academy of Country Music Awards.  Wow, maybe he really does know some people in Nashville.

So why, when you’ve been dreaming of playing music full time your whole life, are you so nervous about responding to this message?  To pick up the phone and give him a call when he’s asked that you do?

I understand that you don’t want to be disappointed, but you’ll never know until you try.  You’ll never know if you can win unless you put yourself in the ring.

I understand your fear.  You wonder, deeply and vulnerably, if you have what it takes… if you are adequate… if you are enough…  Do you remember when you nervously asked Mama Jan Smith, after your vocal assessment with her, if your voice was good enough?  You were 27 at the time, but your 8 year old self was leading the conversation.

She replied that “you wouldn’t be sitting in the chair you’re in now if you weren’t” yet you still want outside confirmation to squash your inside doubt.

Well what if that isn’t how it works?  What if we all feel inadequate at times and the only way to remedy that is to push forward?  What if the remedy for self doubt is a total inside job?  One that can only be tackled by one brave decision at a time.

My darling girl, I am not asking you to climb Mount Everest – though I know it feels that way at times – I am asking you to make the call.  To dial the number.  To take the chance.  To move one foot in front of the other, one step at a time, until those thoughts of doubt float peacefully away like a feather on the surface the sea.  

You will always have doubts.  You will always wonder, at times, if you are adequate, and if your enough-ness is enough.  These sticky thoughts are part of the human experience and the fact that you are alive and breathing means that you will experience them.  You are not alone, but what matters most now is what you will do next, my love.  What will you do next?  Will you shrink in fear or will you rise to meet your next challenge?

Truly the choice is yours,


The Truth


  • Sam

    Beautifully written, as usual:)

  • jsteele

    Sam, thank you. You are the best editor I could ask for. 🙂

  • Ashley

    So perfectly well said! I love your honesty. Thank you for continually putting your thoughts, your emotions, your truth, all of it- out there for us to read. Your posts often bring reassurance in the best kind of way that I’m not alone in my weird, self-doubting, sometimes self-limiting thoughts. I have so much love for you and your journey and wish you all the best good vibes when, not if, you make that call! 🙂

    • jsteele

      Ashley, I adore you, friend. Thank you so much. Your comment makes me so happy. You are NEVER alone and even the most “successful” people on the planet struggle with this. Giving voice to it so scary at times, but it also, in some ways, takes the fear away. My goal is to be fearless, but to make brave moves despite the fear. I’m so grateful for you and thank you for sharing with ME. 🙂 So much love you to right back!!!

  • Gabe Newman

    Well, for what it’s worth, I know all about this self-doubt stuff, but something happened in this past year that really took the last twelve and made them worth it. Anxiety has been a part of my daily life for my whole life, only I didn’t know it. I just always thought I was a nervous wreck. I was, but it didn’t have to be that way, yet it gripped me tightly. It took a fear mongering president stirring the pot of anxiety and suggesting the constant threat of nuclear war for me to finally release the anxiety and step into a more constant state of serenity. That place where you accept the things you cannot change. Change the things you can. And, to be wise enough to know the difference. In other words, I hope you made that call! You got this!

    Now, when you get to Nashville, please remember:

    Dolly 2020
    When We See Clearly

    She’s in Pigeon Forge, but she’s never too far away!

    • jsteele

      Gabe, you’re just the coolest. I love the way you think and operate in the world. And thank you for sharing with me. I didn’t realize you struggled with anxiety – I can totally relate at times – but I’m so happy you’ve stepped into serenity. Isn’t amazing what happens when we consciously choose. We have that power most times. Pretty cool stuff. I will not forget Dolly, Gabe. I promise… pinky promise. <3

  • Lacey Ernst

    Thank you for making a post that is so relatable. You often forget that other people have these same feelings of self doubt. We see so much false perfection in social media, and you ask yourself, “how do they have it all figured out? Where’d they get all of that confidence?” It’s so important to realize that most people don’t. Dare I say, all people don’t. No one has it completely figured out. No one has 100% confidence with no doubt. I struggle with this as well, and it’s limiting. Don’t hold yourself back girl! Go for it! You’re an inspiration and you’re so insanely talented that you’ll blow their minds! And if you don’t blow their minds, then they weren’t the ones who were supposed to find you. Trust your journey, take chances, love yourself! You rock!!

    • jsteele

      Lacey, your honesty is so refreshing. I completely agree with you. I don’t think anyone… not even Oprah has it all figured out. And who the heck is 100% confident in everything they do. If they are, I would argue they aren’t challenging themselves enough. Thank you for bravely sharing that you struggle with this too. The more we share our struggles the more we strip the fear from them. We are walking this path together and I’m so honored. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  • Kathleen Capella

    You are more than enough, you are beautiful inside and out, your songs are a true representation of you and you are going for it. You are on a beautiful journey and I so honor that you are willing to be so honest and direct about the process. Sending love to amazing Jaclyn.

    • jsteele

      Thank you, Kathleen. You must know how influential you have been on my journey. In the short time we lived so close, you taught me that’s it’s ok to be raw and to be real and that it doesn’t matter what other people think. You are such a gorgeous light in this world and I think what’s even more beautiful is your humility. You are like a butterfly – gracing people wherever you go – but often completely unaware of your beauty. Thank you for sharing it so intimately with me. <3

  • Gabe Newman

    Thanks Jaclyn, and I did try to write a review, but I couldn’t find where to do it. I’ll look at your instructions above and try again! I listened to it again on a better computer and even though there wasn’t as much reverb, I still felt like I was in a swamp somewhere in Mississippi!

    • jsteele

      Haha!!! That’s awesome. It’s supposed to feel swampy. Were you trying to write a review on iTunes? I can definitely help you with that. If you open the iTunes app and search my song, it should allow you to write a review. What kind of music app are you using? Thank you by the way for your support! It means so much to me!

  • Owen Scott, III

    Whatever I do, someone out there does is “better” except for one thing: No one can be me better than me. We’re all subject to limits, we’re all “not good enough” to be as capable and beautiful as we imagine we could be, “not good enough” to control events so they work out the way we want them to on our preferred timeline. We all define ourselves too narrowly, not knowing for sure what we’re capable of. But within the constraints life imposes on us, we’re all miraculous creatures capable of amazing creativity and passion. We succeed by getting up every day, giving it our best and seeing what happens. Success in the eyes of the world is nice. My definition of success is staying passionately engaged with the challenges and struggles life throws at us and staying humble with the knowledge we’re capable of much more than we or anyone else thinks we are. I say we go for it!

    • jsteele

      No one is you-er than YOU. I totally agree with “we all define ourselves too narrowly, not knowing for sure what we’re capable of.” – We are limitless in our own way. We put the limits on ourselves. Success in the world’s eyes IS nice, but it’s not necessary. We need to find what brings us joy and anchor to it, putting on blinders to what other people may or may not think. Thank you for sharing, Owen!

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