Tuesday, 19 March 2019

On Feeling like You're not Good Enough

The make ups of the society we live in, with all the instant access to information we carry around in our pockets, can make it difficult to feel confident and value your achievements. Spending 3 hours of your day on Instagram or Twitter (thank you Screen Time for telling me how many hours of my life I will never get back) tells you that everyone is doing better than you, looks better, is achieving things you'll never achieve. When self-care has become another marketing tool for bath bombs and face masks, how do we learn to genuinely nourish our self worth?

Confidence is a tricky thing to master. Particularly when it comes to withstanding the inevitable setbacks of life. Egos are fragile, and when things don't go your way, the easiest option is to either put the blame on someone else, or yourself. As an aspiring Poet, rejection is something that I'm going to have to get very cosy with. Submitting my work to journals and entering competitions can be a difficult process, with most submissions ending up as rejections. I'm certainly no master of confidence, but here are some things that help me along the way.

Check yourself. That niggly voice in the back of your mind thrives on anxiety. Whatever you're feeling nervous about, it will latch onto. Writing this blog post, part of me is thinking that nobody cares what I have to say. In social situations, it tells you that you're an outsider, that people just tolerate you. It wants you to think your work is never good enough, that you shouldn't even show it to anyone for fear of pure embarrassment. Its focus on what is lacking can suffocate the positives. It's important to recognise that nothing will ever be good enough to satisfy the voice. After poetry readings I often feel a weird mixture of feeling both dejected and exhilarated, wanting to do it over again but better, because I'm disappointed with my performance. This energy can be turned into a positive thing, a way of figuring out where there's room for improvement. Instead of putting a lid on this voice and trying to stifle it, why not confront it? Reason with it. I feel this way after a reading because I can do better, but I'm still learning and improving each time. So I might not be the best performer but how about how much better I've got at projecting my voice? People just listened to me talk for 15 minutes straight and actually looked interested! 

Celebrate all of your achievements. Even the tiniest ones. When you achieve something it's easy to look around and think your achievement is minuscule compared to what others are achieving. But every single achievement is progression that is getting you closer to where you want to be, and everyday achievements are important too. Completed your first post-uni job application? Had a particularly bad mental health day and managed to take a shower? It's important to take a moment to think about what you've achieved, and reflect on how far you've come.   

Practice true self care. This means different things for everybody, but I think it mostly comes down to taking time to yourself to re-charge and re-fuel. Don't let yourself get burnt out. Feed yourself properly. This is easier said than done, but there's this toxic ideology that glamorises the idea that you need to be constantly grafting to be a good worker, up at the crack of dawn doing yoga and drinking a freshly Nutri-bulleted Kale smoothie, never taking a break, working into the night. This may be your bag, but I know that for me, I need to take some time to gain a new perspective when I've got a lot on my plate. I'm definitely going to write a better 500 words of that essay after 8 hours sleep than I would sleep-deprived at 3AM after completing a load of other tasks I've set myself for the day. 

See rejection as part of the process. Setbacks are inevitable, and sometimes they hit where it hurts. Being able to take on board criticism and use it to grow and improve is only going to move you forward. Sometimes things happen which put you on a different trajectory than where you thought you were going, and it's ok to wallow in it for a little bit. But ensure that you're able to pick yourself up, adapt to new changes, and you'll still get to where you need to be.       

Your voice is unique and valuable. Probably the most important thing I've started to learn this past year is to have confidence in my voice and my perspective. Everybody battles with imposter syndrome. Your voice is truly unique to you, nobody else has all of the same little components that shape you, therefore what you bring to the table is always valid. Having confidence in your opinion is such a vital thing to carry forward, both socially and professionally. Others may have more authority than you, speak with greater assurance and experience or have a louder voice than you, but this shouldn't silence you. Your perspective needs to be represented and understood. 

Friday, 8 March 2019

International Women's Day 2019

Happy International Women's Day! In celebration, I'm sharing my poem, Lady in Pink. The poem explores the ways in which women are connected to each other, through the lens of a chance encounter on a train. You can find the video of me introducing and performing the poem below, which was shot and edited by Matt Ashwell. I'll also be reading poems this evening at Lush Cardiff's Goddess event!

I think it's really important to emphasise how International Women's Day should be celebrated intersectionally, inclusive of all kinds of women, including women of colour, trans women, non-binary people, disabled and neurodivergent women, as well as everybody in between. Fighting against the odds is hard enough as it is, we're stronger together. 

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