“And by the way…”

“…everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise.  The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”   ~Sylvia Plath

Huh. Sitting in the early morning quiet of my office, nerves rattled, creativity a small helpless ember in my belly, this quote truly resonates with me.

The beginning of the year brings new hope, faith, excitement. A clean slate. Though by February, most of us have slouched back to our “same ‘ol, same ‘ol.” Either out of comfort, habit or exhaustion.

This week, especially, has been an exhausting one for me. Coming off a birthday cake hangover from last weekend (my youngest turned 6!), I was sluggish, at best. Then, I had my meeting with Big Boss to discuss my 2010 objectives. (In the 9-5 world, I ‘m an executive assistant for a regional vice president. Not as glamorous as it sounds.) The tasks I could do in my sleep, were suddenly changing. And although being given bigger, more impactful responsibilities is flattering, I am striken with fear: so many reports to create and maintain, interactions with higher-up’s on a regular basis, the power of being first to review incoming resumes.

So, I try to think of another time when I was faced with a mountain of responsibility. Becoming a first-time mom would be the ultimate, but let’s take it down a notch. Teaching.

I had this brilliant idea to gather young writers and help them stay inspired, share their work and improve their craft. No idea how I was going to do this. But, still, I walked into the Downers Grove Library, pitched my idea to the Junior Room Coordinator and was off and running (more like scrambling, stumbling, fumbling.) How did I survive? I admitted this was new for me and sought help. I met with the Children’s Programming Director, hashed out ideas and since it was a non-paying volunteer position, I gave myself a little break. If all I do is help a middle schooler find a story spark, I’ve done good.

But it grew from there. I was asked to teach for pay through a local enrichment program. I gave a key-note speech to about 100 young girls on the benefits of journaling. I was even interviewed for a local cable TV show!

How? Did I finally relax and become comfortable with these new responsibilities? Not exactly.  I still freak out before starting another Super Saturday session with new young writers, preparing lesson plans and hand outs and narrowing the focus of the class’s objective.

But, again, I reach out for help. Whether talking “shop” with another writing teacher, checking in with my online writing buddies or just rambling to my enduring husband. And I journal. And I read. And I review the positive notes my students have sent me. All the “love” helps to extinguish that inner critic, the wavering confidence. Ultimately, I learn to gather info, put it through my filter and let it out into the world.

How do you handle self-doubt?


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Filed under Advice, Believe, Perseverance, teaching

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