A long time ago, someone gave me some words that needle at me whenever I’m about to start a new project.
I was in my twenties and I was offered a writing contract that allowed me to work from home (before this was the thing) and adjust my hours to suit the needs of my young family. It was exactly what I needed (and well paid too).
I shared the news with this person, who at the time had a key role in my life, and she said:
‘What makes you think you can do that?’
Confused, I asked, ‘What do you mean?’ Her tone betrayed no genuine curiosity. She had in previous conversations told me that I was not good enough and never would be – yes, in those words.
‘Why would they pay YOU that money for that job? What makes you think you’re qualified?’
That irritated me worse than an invisible mosquito, but experience had taught me standing up to her never worked. You learnt to suck it up.
So, with those words – ‘What makes you think you …’ – she handed me an unwanted gift.
And I took it.
Even then, I sensed these words came from her crippling insecurity, shame and jealousy – the latter she admitted to me in what I think was the only heartfelt conversation we ever had.
So, instead of chucking that unwanted wordy gift in the bin, I pushed it somewhere in my head, and there it stayed.
This woman is no longer in my life, but, to my great frustration, her words still haunt me now and again.
What makes you think you can run this workshop?
What makes you think you can teach people about editing?
What makes you think you can write a novel?
What makes you think anyone will read it?
What makes you think you can do it again, and again?
What makes you think you have anything to offer?
It makes me want to scream knowing that these words still sneak up, still have the power to halt me in my tracks, to make me question my capabilities and unique things I can offer.
Why did I let her give me her s**t?
Why have I given these words that power for so long?
I’m not twenty-something anymore. I don’t have to suck it up anymore.
So, here’s what I say now when those words come up, like the irritating invisible mozzies they are:
Just watch me.
I’m going to run this workshop, write that novel, talk about it to whoever wants to listen, and I’m going to do it again and again for as long as I can.
Just watch me.
PS. My debut novel is out next month! You can read all about Wherever You Go here.