So, I made a promise to Stacey M. Miller and Jim Jackson a personal story. Wondering what to talk about, I realize that perhaps I should reflect on my feelings and some of the changes I’ve noticed in the past few months. Not to mention that over the weekend, I realized an imposter had snuck inside me. Once again, much like when I did my podcast with Adam Dreece the first time, my own words had come back to haunt me.
In this particular talk up here, the words that came back to me are the ones when we get to Adam talking about his earrings. I found myself two years later eating those words with my own cares. At Creative Ink I gave some advice for another author getting started that seems to need to be said to myself now. (Irony you are evil.) And I figure Stacey in particular will appreciate this. So guys, this blog is dedicated to you.
Once upon a time there was a writer/podcaster who was used to being unnoticed. He had quietly gone about his business for what seems like forever. He was hoping for a touch of recognition. What artist doesn’t want to have a little bit of audience after all?
Then one day, he gets an email that changes everything. Suddenly, he wasn’t unnoticed anymore. Words like successful and expert now were attached to said podcaster/author. Strangers approached him and told him they liked his show. He never had experienced anything like this for anything he had done before.
Now what was he supposed to do with it?
This is my first ever convention that strangers have come up to me and talked about how much they love my podcast. People I never have met have come to me and talked about my podcast in great detail.
I remember walking into the convention on Sunday, still kind of asleep when I heard my name said in a positive light. I barely registered it when a friend pointed me out. A young man came to me with a smile on his face. He showed me his podcast subscription list. I was on it.
I should have enjoyed it. Instead, I was on the outside looking at myself looking at this dude, the reality of the moment not hitting home like it should have. It was awkward and uncomfortable. I mean, I just do my thing you know?
I remember first coming to When Words Collide and not many people noticing me. I was a face in the crowd who wanted more. Who doesn’t want that right?
I started the podcast at When Words Collide three years ago. Since then I have had the pleasure of interviewing an incredible amount of amazing people. And all the building up I have been doing with everyone else seems to be coming back to me. And now, I understand what I do to others when I receive praise.
I was frozen. Doubt walked in and spoiled this moment. It was all my fault.
I kind of feel like an egomaniac even typing this stuff. I don’t have that much success you know? One day once upon a time I was noticed for this. I wasn’t doing anything special. I just did my thing. And this weekend words like expert, successful and brilliant were thrown at me by far more impressive people than I.
I blushed a lot. I never considered myself special. At first it was nice, but hearing a lot of praise from a lot of places actually froze me in place. What did I do to even come here to hear this?
I had gotten annoyed at listening to myself. In my podcast interviews I talked about the Aurora so much that weekend with the podcasts I got sick of it. Hearing anything nice about myself in anyway positive sounded so hollow and pretentious.
I was an Imposter.
I imagined success and recognition would make me like a rock star. I would show up to thunderous applause and it would all play out like a beer commercial. Babes, automobiles, and money. Isn’t that the big dream of it all?
That’s the image of success. The reality is much different.
Success is building yourself. Success is setting expectations for yourself. Success is having the imagination, passion and faith to keep going. To believe in yourself that what you are doing matters, and that it’s getting out there bit by bit.
I worked hard to get this far. Every night I’m staring at the screen doing some work, and not caring a whit about who notices. Is it wrong that people notice and care? Is it so terrible that I’ve created these expectations for myself? That I’ve earned this reputation?
Is it so terrible that people do believe in me?
Yet I feel like a hollow, shallow, pretentious shit. Who the hell wants to hear me talk about me? Yet if I don’t voice my own virtues with conviction, who will take me seriously?
It’d be so easy to get an ego. I think it can’t be helped. An ego is a bit of a buffer in one sense. It’s a shield so that successful people can keep going and protect themselves from shrinking against the structures they’ve built for themselves. As long as it doesn’t blind them completely, a little ego is healthy.
It’s okay if I’m proud of what I’ve done. I should be.
It’d be so easy to just enjoy it at all cost. I’ve done great things. So simple to demand just a little entitlement. I understand that angle too. I wouldn’t have to work so hard with these expectations. Be demanding enough, and those expectations would turn into disappointment. I’d be free. I’d be a “could have been”.
All this over a little recognition. All this over words like expert and successful. And this is nothing. There is so much more I want to do and accomplish. I’ve done nothing yet. Not a thing. With only a little pat on the back I feel like a fake, a fraud, an egomaniac and a pretentious prick in one go. How can I doubt so much at this precipice?
Because I want this so badly. This is what I’ve dreamed of.
Alright Imposter. Alright Doubt. I’m not going to let you betray me. I’m not going to beat myself. I don’t know where this all leads or goes. I’m riding this wave to wherever beach it may land me on. I don’t know what the end result is going to be. I will not let you take it away with these needles of dread and doubt. I will do what I did to get me here.
I will be okay with expectations. I crave them. Expectations force me to rise to try and meet them. I have done what I’ve done. I can do more. I will do more.
I will try to avoid being a pretentious asshole that has all the answers. I will stay humble and hungry no matter what I do. I will not change what got me here.
I still have so far to go. So go away dear Imposter. I understand you now. You exist only to betray me and try to destroy me. But your power only comes when I listen to you. So I will not listen to you anymore. This is already hard enough. So here I leave you.
Once upon a time a writer/podcaster finally got recognition for his podcast. Instead of shrinking at the praise, he acknowledged it and just for a moment, enjoyed it.
Then he got back to work. For he knows that the pursuit of success never stops. Success must be wooed, chased down and courted with the toils of labor and expectations. He vows to himself whatever comes his way, good or bad, he would not get in his way. He will be ready for the blessing of praise and success. He will keep himself open for opportunities.
He will not be afraid to take them when they do come his way.