I’m not good with success. It’s a double edged sword. I am capable of that buzz of joy, I know what it is to feel pleased but there’s a tenuous fragility to it. A sarcasm that denounces it. A murmur that feels ever so slightly like a panic attack.
I’ve spoken about by inner critics before. My nasty destructive inner voices that take to my success with a cricket bat. I’ve also spoken how I’m trying to get know them better.
So first, to my little victory against my evil inner critics – I won a little Flash Fiction competition. This is a direct transcript of the text messages I shared with my husband (who was away for work at the time). He discovered my success and text me just as I arrived home from work.
HUSBAND: Hooray!!! You won Flash Friday!!! Congratulations!
ME: !!! April Fools?
HUSBAND: Nope. Check the Flash Friday blog for yourself. Even Remy [that’s my Twitter avatar image] gets his photo on the page.
ME: No. I kinda knew you were serious. But really, it wasn’t that great, was it?
HUSBAND: Course it was.
*logs into computer and checks for myself*
ME: Did you read the comments? Wow. When you read why she picked my story she makes it sound awesome.
HUSBAND: It *is* awesome. Now go and have a drink.
Looking back, I wish I’d made a more concerted effort to write down what my evil inner critics were saying , but I reverted back to my avoidance tactics. I tried blocking the voices instead of listening to them. Not that they had nothing constructive or helpful to say but listening to them helps me recognise the evil they are.
And here are my thought processes re-created:
I felt like a fraud. How could I win when there were ‘real’ writers far more worthy? Why would I win this when other stories were better? I wondered if it was a fluke. I wondered if it was an accident. Maybe the judge took pity on me. In trying to be happy for myself, I devalued it with thoughts like ‘there weren’t many people in the comp’, and ‘ it’s only one person’s opinion’.
I honestly feel all these inadequacies. Other people don’t see them which does not make them less real to me, it just makes me hide them. I feel stupid. Some people argue with me with the very best of intentions, but I don’t want pity and I don’t want compliments – it’s simply how I feel. Knowing I should feel differently doesn’t really help.
However, knowing other people feel the same, does.
I believed for a long time that giving these negative feelings ‘air’ only let them breathe. That recognising them validated them, but I’ve started to realise avoiding them is more like covering a boiling pot.
If you feel a fraud, you’re not alone. Don’t let it stop you, don’t let it hold you back. Decide what is destructive and what is instructive.
Now all I have to do is take that advice myself.
And thank you for listening.
Next week: Cats