Something I’ve been struggling with over the last year is the fact that I fear being successful at anything because I don’t believe I am deserving/worthy of being successful. Every time I post another chapter to one of my fics or publish another episode of my podcast, I brace myself for the hate I’m certain is about to crash over me like a tsunami. I’m filled with so much anxiety and doubt about myself and my creations that I have to fight to keep creating and not remove every trace of their existence.
And why do I feel like this? Success is for people who are better than me. What makes them better than me? Being wealthy.
It wasn’t until last week I was able to put it into words. And now that I have, I’m both relieved and deeply angry. Because I know just how messed up all this is.
Growing up, my creativity was encouraged. We didn’t have much, and I know just how much my parents sacrificed to be able to provide me with instruments, music and art lessons, and music camp in the summer. I will be eternally grateful for that and it’s a debt that I can never repay. However, it was made crystal clear to me that trying to make a living by being creative was not for someone like me. That was a life for someone with money.
I think my parents were trying to protect me. They knew that if I ran off to New York, California, or some other faraway place and tried to make it as a performer, things would probably not go well. I’d end up broke and homeless and they’d be unable to help me. I spent my childhood in small towns where I was a big fish in a little pond. I really couldn’t comprehend just how many kids out there were far more talented than I was.
I know that memory is a fickle thing, but the memory of the day I told the most important person in my life that I wanted to be a singer when I grew up is so vivid. I remember the sharp bark of a laugh and then being informed that only rich kids got to do something like that. I feel just as sick to my stomach thinking about that moment now as I did that day all those years ago.
Unfortunately, all those music lessons and camps and honor bands/choirs only served to send me very mixed messaging. I didn’t know how to process any of it. The only thing I did do was give up on the entire concept of dreams. What was the point of having dreams if there was no hope I could ever accomplish them?
Again, I realize how messed up all of this is.
There’s so much self-doubt. So much impostor syndrome. I battle it every single day. I can’t say that it’s getting easier, but I’m working very hard to unlearn things that I’ve believed about myself for decades.
I know that as a performer and writer, I’m average, at best. But I still have a voice. I still have something to offer. I’ve let my talents sit on the shelf collecting dust for ages. This is wrong and I don’t want to waste them like that anymore. Music, outside of karaoke, tends to be too emotionally painful these days. That doesn’t mean I can’t use my voice for good. So, I’ll keep writing my fluffy little fics and keep recording my thoughts about books. I’ll go to my volunteer job and read books and news and hopefully make other people’s lives a little bit better.