And try not to freak out about the good things
I’m going to get an award and it’s freaking me out.
No, writing world, it’s not a National Book Award, but an award in our local community, and it’s very lovely and also very strange because it’s a recognition of me trying. Trying to do good stuff. Trying to get facts out. Trying to make the community a better place. Trying to make sure people have a voice.
It feels weird to be recognized for that when I don’t ever feel like I’m doing a good enough job.
Eleven years ago today, I was doing press via national radio news things for the book, DEAR BULLY, which I co-edited. It was an anthology of true stories by writers about the impact of bullying on their childhoods.
These radio moments on places like NPR were totally outside my comfort zone because I have a Muppet voice and slosh my s’s, and radio is all about voice. Kind of like podcasts.
And it was sort of weird because my piece in DEAR BULLY was about getting mocked about my voice and being told I would never be successful because of my voice, that nobody would take me seriously.
Which is probably a big part of why I am a writer.
Nobody can interrupt you when you write.
Nobody can hear your sloshy s-sounds.
And nobody sees it when your skirt falls down.
But awards? Awards and radio interviews or even goofy podcasts like our one tonight mean that for a tiny brief moment people can see you.
And it’s cool. I’m super lucky that I get to be a writer and I wouldn’t change it for anything, but sometimes I wonder what I’d be if I didn’t have this voice. Would I be braver about things like awards? Would I be an actress or a singer instead of a writer? A public speaker? Something else entirely?
Or if I had this same voice, but we lived in a world where difference didn’t easily mean cruelty would my anxiety be a bit less about people noticing me.
Despite what it might seem like on social media or podcasts, I’m a person who actually prefers to sit on floors rather than stand behind podiums, to applaud others and celebrate their awesome. And every time something good happens where I get attention, I kind of look over my shoulder and wait for something bad: some criticism, some complaint, or — you know — just my skirt falling down.
I’m trying to stop that looking over my shoulder and it’s not always easy, but I’m trying. It’s all part of evolving, right? So, I’m really thankful for this chance to evolve.
Choosing to see light in other people can be hard sometimes when there is mockery and politics and trolls. Choosing to promote light can be hard, too, because then people call you schmaltzy or a Pollyanna or Captain Hallmark. But trying to make your choices be full of gratitude and light? That can sometimes be the hardest thing of all. So, I’m trying to push my anxiety down and be cool about this award from our local chamber of commerce.
One of my old writing teachers created a book for other teachers (before the era of self publishing) and in it, he talked about “breathtaking rough drafts.” His favorite rough draft was like the one created below by one of his students.
And I’ve got to tell you, I think I’m still in that rough draft stage, hoping to someday be a breathtaking final product but currently in the massive throes of revision with scratch-outs and additions everywhere.
Anyways, if you are being mocked for being different, I am SO sorry. I hope you find the strength to make it through. I hope those people who are mocking you realize how poopy they are being. I hope you can find a way to realize that difference is an awesome thing. I hope that we all can move into the world of breathtaking together. ❤