|San Vicente Lighthouse, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA March 2012|
I've also been told I am a wonderful teacher. But, again, I don't see it. My students don't do well on the prescribed tests, but they do give back the information I teach when they have a say in how they are to present the information. But, the district, state and federal governments want mind-numbing bubble-filling tests which I have to administer on the District's timeline, not necessarily when the students are ready. And they judge my effectiveness as a teacher solely on the results of the tests.
I have been told by others my writing here in this blog is good and powerful. But, it's words on a page to me. I'm just sharing my journey through this transition in my life right now. It helps me understand myself and some of the emotional demons I'm confronting. And if someone else can benefit, all the better.
I am on the verge of a new stage in my life, a new direction. One I never had seriously considered; a published author. I'm nervous, a bit scared, yet excited. About three years ago, I had a dream I remembered. I RARELY remember them. I may awaken with an inkling that possibly I may have dreamed something. But, that morning back in 2008, I woke clearly remembering this dream from start to finish. "What a great story this would make!" And I decided to write it right then. Over 68,000 words and 130-some pages later, I had a rough novel. But, no plans to do anything with it. I didn't think it was good enough that anyone else would want to read it, let alone pay for it. Yet in the back of my mind, I thought "What if..? How would I go about it?" I was at a loss as how to proceed.
And now, it will be published. I had no idea it was that good. I didn't consciously write it to publish, but I thought, why not? A couple of friends read it and liked it. Other stories began bubbling around in my head, aching to get out. I started putting some of those ideas down on paper, but came to some blocks and never continued. I read somewhere that's because I don't believe in the story; I don't trust myself as a writer. Maybe that's true. I've never had a creative writing class. I don't know how to organize a story, how to develop my characters, how to captivate my readers. My full novel has never had any professional editing, until now. A couple of professionals had read the first 20 pages or so for free. And they liked what they read. One even gave me some constructive advice. Okay, I had some encouragement. My current editor referred to my full novel as "a big, beautiful glass bubble." And it "unfolds like a flower, or a dream." Yet it still feels rough to me. But she doesn't believe I should change anything. Seriously?
Still, I am overwhelmed they liked it, which brings me back to my original point; why are we so reluctant to believe the positive in ourselves? Why are we our own harshest critics? Why do we doubt ourselves?
I think for many of us, and LGBTQ people in particular, we grow up in a very negative atmosphere of self-loathing and self-deprecation. We are bullied, tormented, harassed, beaten and sometimes worse, during our formative years. As much of a thick skin we try to cultivate, some of the damage does get through. Even though we try to repair much of the damage through counseling, or some other means, the foundation of our self-esteem may still remain weakened. We may still end up with a negative self-image, one which is very hard to overcome.
Or, we may assume we are responsible for a traumatic childhood event. We caused our parents to divorce, or maybe even, a death in the family. We internalize our responsibility. As adults we can rationalize and ultimately accept that we were not responsible, but has our inner child let go of the guilt? Maybe not. So we can carry that guilt forward without really learning to be completely free.
We must learn to seek out what supports us. The Universe has presented me with this opportunity to add this layer onto my life and résumé, for which I am very grateful. So, I choose to surrender to the Universe's direction and trust in what is happening. If the Universe believes I am ready for this step, I must take it and learn to let go of the self-doubt and believe in the professionals. It's not easy to do, but very necessary for a healthy and productive life.
And if my students and their parents tell me I'm wonderful, I must accept it, as long as I believe I am doing my best.
And when I meet that one special man who finds me as sexy as I find him, I'll just take his word for it.