To the one who said I couldn’t ...
Doubt. It sometimes creeps in and sticks around for a while. Like when you’re making a cup of cozy tea and manage to get honey on your fingers as you’re trying to sweeten it. Then the bottle gets sticky. The counter. Your clothes. The more you try to wipe it away the stickier it gets until you finally wash it off but it still feels like there’s a little bit left - a reminder. That’s what doubt is like for me and for a long time -I was stuck.
I remember back to my early days working in daytime television I had a producer have me write her scripts for her. She thought she was giving me the valuable career experience I needed as an aspiring producer and instead she was giving me years and years of self doubt. I would submit these scripts after working really hard on them and shortly after proudly putting them in the shared folder where they lived for everyone to see I’d get a call to come into her office.
My heart raced.
She had the scripts printed. She had scribbled all over them. Scribbled in red pen. Scribbled in red pen all the things that were wrong with my writing, my words, my grammar... my story...
She told me how stupid I was. How I couldn’t write and that I would never be able to write a proper script. Red pen. Red like my face as I headed back to my desk. Red like my face every time I thought about her for years after. And guess what? For a very long time I believed her. The words stopped coming because I was scared of what she would think. When I started worrying about what she thought I worried about what everyone else thought. I became hesitant and didn’t consider myself a good writer or even a writer at all . That title scares me still. All titles do.
After that experience I wanted to protect myself, never feel that level of shame again for my work, for being me. I didn’t believe I would be able to become a TV producer like I had dreamed because I couldn’t write scripts or tell stories. My next job didn’t require me to so I stopped pursuing that path and writing all together. I was fearful. I would have someone proofread anything and everything I was writing even an important email over and over and over again. I would rather it be edited, changed and read less as me and more as “correct” than actually get my point across, my message, my story.
The doubt remained.
Sticky like that bottle of honey.
I still believed her. But now - I don’t. Not anymore. Never again. Through my posts on here and Instagram I’m thankful that I’ve found my voice even if my grammar isn’t perfect and my voice sometimes shakes. I used to feel like I had to hide that. Hide the uncertainty, the shakiness, and how I was feeling. Shove it down and be OK, continue on with the grind and push through. Take her abuse without showing her and everyone else it was affecting me. Well it did affect me for a long time in an unhealthy way until I used her negativity to fuel positive change. Positive words and more of them. To talk about it all - honestly and vulnerably. The shift started as I was posting about food and events in NYC and important moments and life experiences started happening that I wanted to share. In a new way, through my point of view. So I did. I started sharing less food pics with short quirky food puns and started sharing my heart. Deeply. Word by word. Because I felt moved to share my story. So I continued to share and share some more.
Every time I write I think about how I was told I couldn’t. But I can. So I will.
I’m sure you find spelling errors in my posts all the time and even this post but it’s OK- I write because it brings me joy and when I write I write so you feel like you’re hearing me tell it to you. Directly. Like we’re sharing a cup of coffee at The Village Grind and talking the deep stuff, run on sentences and extra exclamation points. The words flow now. No red pens in sight.
But just as doubt lingers it can disappear.
I put myself and my writing out there in a new way this week.
The idea of it was scary at first because of my old stories aurrounding it but I knew I was ready. I AM READY. So I submitted something to somewhere that would mean a lot to me if my words made it in there. I wrote from my heart about someone I love doing something really important for my community. And I told his story. I treated it as if I were writing to all of you on here because I am and always will be and then... I hit send on the email. I didn’t even have someone else edit it for me before submitting it. Those words were mine as well as any potential spelling errors in there too. And I was proud of them- all of them. Of me. My eyes welled up with tears the minute I sent it. In that moment it didn’t matter to me the feedback I received on the other end. The editing or suggestions. The changes. If it gets published or not. I was doing the thing I was told I couldn’t do, that I would never do and that makes this the happiest ending to my story.
Actually, this is just the beginning.
I can’t wait to write more.