“I am a writer“. That is not meant to be either a proud or a profound statement. Rather it is a confession of where I stand. It is what I do both for a job and for pleasure. You can read more of my published writing here and read my academic publications at Researchgate.
I am not a good writer (yet) but that confession is a starting point for dealing to the doubt that we all often feel. That nagging “I am not supposed to be here…” or “what if they find out I am faking it?” Late in 2016, I was deep in the midst of finishing off my first thesis and I found this extract from Vincent Van Gogh’s letter to his brother (Van Gogh, 1883). It contains a poignant line:
“If you hear a voice within you saying, “You are not a painter,” then by all means paint, boy, and that voice will be silenced, but only by working.”
We all doubt our ability to achieve things. Doubt is much more subtle and multi-layered than that though. I knew that I could start studying again and work my way from undergraduate to complete a Masters; the real doubt was if I would go the distance, keeping my eyes open for every opportunity and staying thankful in the tough times. Getting to the end and completing the race, as Ann Landers commented, is often simply “the task of being the last one standing after everyone else has given up.”
Winston Churchill had an astounding way of fighting his “black dog”, the depression that so often made him feel crushed. His home, Chartwell, still shows the evidence today. When he felt at his lowest, he put on his builders apron and built brick walls in the garden till his mind cleared. Miles and miles of walls bear testament to van Gogh’s assertion that working will silence the voices.
Just keep loving the stuff, give thanks and the doubt will fade away. Doubts are like vampires; they cannot survive in the sunlight…And most of all…just keep writing.
Van Gogh, V (1883). Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written 28 October 1883 in Drenthe. Retrieved from http://www.webexhibits.org/vangogh/letter/13/336.htm