Recently, I visited a close friend for a couple of days. One of the things we did was watch YouTube videos of winning auditions for Britain’s/America’s Got Talent. Several times, one of the judges would say afterward to the performer, “Do you know how good you are?” Typically, the response was the performer began breaking down into tears. I think that for many of us artists, we don’t have a clean perspective of our talents and abilities. We get lost in comparing ourselves to others, especially to others whom we look up to. Further, I also think we tend to shine a gilding light on the work of those others while keeping our own works dimly lit. We don’t give ourselves a fair shake. We hold up high the works of esteemed others, gazing at them in the same way as when we’re infatuated, in love. Our own works we nitpick, magnify what flaws we find, and pooh-pooh any elements that might reveal the caliber of our abilities and talent. “Do you know how good you are?” No. And truthfully, I’m not sure I want to. If I did know, then I might have to act on that knowledge, be accountable to it. I don’t know if I’m ready to do that.
Tag Archives: not seeing your own brilliance
Last October, I attended my first Talking Gourds, Telluride’s monthly poetry gathering and reading. It was good being in Telluride and seeing some of the locals whom I knew in some fashion or another. However, I was unable to shake off the sense that I didn’t belong, that I was intruding, being the “not from around here” person that I was. Never mind that I was embraced by no fewer than three of the locals, and introduced as something of a special guest, having come from four hours away, at the start of the meeting. Event though I was a poet among other poets, I was not “one of us.”
Thing is, I don’t think I’m all that alone, thinking I’m the oddball, the outsider, the “one of these things isn’t like all the others…” As I spend more time with more people, I’m seeing that it’s the oddball who doesn’t struggle with feeling like the oddball.
In a recent blogpost, Susan J Tweit writes about her feelings of being an outsider. Because she’s a self-taught writer, not trained in any academic writing program, she’s not a “real writer.” Likewise, because she wasn’t able to produce the journal writings of “real science,” she’s not accepted into their ranks, even with her graduate degree in biology. Never mind she’s been a Colorado Book Award Winner x number of times, and has been anthologized close to a countless number of times—she doesn’t belong and is an outsider because she’s “not a real writer.”
Another local writer of my acquaintance, Trish, often gets sucked into the muck of pondering her place in the scheme of things, especially as a writer. During one of these periods, she received a letter from writer she’d crossed paths with a couple of times, and had recently attended a workshop conducted by. It was a brief letter of encouragement, of persisting onward amid the hazy, foggy times. Trish showed me this letter, pointing out the line that stopped her breath midway in her throat: You bring so much to the world, such generosity of spirit, such clean vision (about everything, it seems, except your own brilliance), such kindness.
A lack of being able to see our own brilliance: Isn’t this what we all, each of us, suffers from?