Learning to be audacious

I’ll be honest: I have a little imposter syndrome about this website.

Not because I’m not qualified to do this work; on the contrary, I’m extremely qualified.

But because I’m still working on becoming audacious.

Audaciousness: the key to any creator’s success. (Yes, I agree, audacity is more succinct. But I’ve gone off it in my writing since it became the name of an audio-editing app. And by the way, I’m more than a little annoyed with the developers about their choice. Back to our discussion at hand.)

How many years did I hold myself back because I was hamstrung by imposter syndrome? How many times did I not hit ‘send’ on a submission because I didn’t think it was ready? Or more to the point, I didn’t think it was good enough?

Fuck that noise. There are so many publishers out there. So many presses, so many journals. So many of them are publishing incredible work. Some of them are publishing less than incredible work, that is to say, work that is less incredible than YOURS. Work they received because someone believed in themselves audaciously, or at least enough to hit send.

So hit send.

When I say I have “a little” imposter syndrome, I’m being honest about this quavering feeling in my gut, the one that says “you’re the featured writer on a podcast? you? what have you done?” But that “little” is also a huge improvement over the whale-sized imposter syndrome that used to perch on my lap, between me and the “send” key.

It’s shrunk dramatically in the last year, because I worked like crazy to shrink it. Not head-on, mind you. By learning to trust myself. Learning to let go of perfectionism.

No: not learning. Learning sounds like it’s one-and-done. I’m good! Here we go! Hahahahahaaaa… no.

Practicing. Practicing trusting myself. Practicing letting go of perfectionism. Practicing accepting myself right here and now, whatever here and now looks like (plenty of times, it ain’t pretty).

Fortunately, after an intense year, I’ve had a lot of practice. So when Sara at Fierce Womxn Writing told me my podcast episode was airing tomorrow, I came here to update my blog, saw that it had been almost two years since I’d posted anything, and spent about a nanosecond feeling bad about it before starting to write. A year ago, I would’ve gone into an existential crisis. For, I don’t know, days? Probably weeks? Certainly more than 16 hours.

[Note to self: I love you, Past Ann. I’m sorry I trained you so well to be so very hard on yourself.]

It doesn’t matter how long it’s been since you’ve written, or whatever The Thing is that you love to do so much you don’t allow yourself to do it very much because you don’t think you’ve earned it or that you’re good enough or any of the vicious lies we learn to tell ourselves. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t done it in forever and a day.

All that matters is that you let yourself start. Now.

Here’s a writing prompt, if you need it: I forgive myself for not…

Just let the words flow. And when you’re done, say “thank you.” Out loud, to yourself. If you feel silly or embarrassed about it, then say it REALLY LOUDLY. LOTS OF TIMES.

You deserve to do that soul-nourishing thing you love. Writing, dancing, cooking, singing, going for a long walk, taking a nap, eating chocolate, whatever it is, you don’t have to do a goddamn thing to earn it. Do it. Feel good about it. Thank yourself for doing it.

You deserve to decide, if you haven’t already, that you love yourself — and behave accordingly.

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