“Being true to that self involves sifting through the layers of bad advice and unreasonable expectations of others. It requires seeing through your own delusions of grandeur or your fear of failure or your impostor syndrome or your conviction that there is something uniquely and obviously screwed up about your particular self.”
― Elizabeth Lesser, Marrow: A Love Story
As one with a personality that thrives in the grey, speaking a strong opinion sounds foreign and unwelcoming. Ask me my opinion on any sensitive issue and you may leave the conversation never knowing my true view. By design, I hold strong beliefs close. Debating the merits of moral and ethical ideals is in no way appealing to me. My beliefs may shift over time and are framed by personal experience, representative only of self and not the whole.
This may also be why my writing has taken a turn towards prose rather than essays. I enjoy the metaphor in poetry and how words can mean a multitude of things depending on the readers experience. I can now speak to a much larger audience and find a renewed freedom in the metaphorical imagery of poetry. Each new piece is brought to life by evoking personal emotions with little control over the end result. I grab my laptop and start writing as if consumed by what are sometimes dark and uncensored thoughts. It is an exposure in the deepest sense and one that leaves me completely spent.
Should it be me, that others see.
Could I possibly be the one,
who holds center stage, alone in a cage
fearful yet outspoken.
Should I project, all for effect
A false and misfitting equation
Or should I be, completely me
Rejecting all misleading notions.
After writing, I often let the poem sit for some time before returning to read and edit. This is when the awful “imposter syndrome” rages. Looking at otherwise private emotions is a humbling venture. I wonder what in the world was I thinking and how could it be of any importance to others. Slamming my laptop shut, I walk away from my words, my heart, time and time again. Self doubt is so very insidious.
Having repeated this over and over, it is clear that writing is a radical act of bravery. Inherently, I understand publishing intimate thoughts, requires a letting go of obsession with “the other”. I must write for me and only me. It sounds selfish, but the only way in which my unique voice can be heard. By releasing the focus on approval, I am free to take risks, explore uncharted emotional territory and dive as deeply as words allow.
Ultimately, there is only one of me in this grand universe and my singular voice matters. Similarly, the collective voice of humanity also has something to teach, whether it be frightening or inspirational. It is up to each individual how they wish to interpret words, imagery and creative thought. How freeing to know we each have choice in this way.