Song of Self


In addition to grading papers tonight, I also dug through old graduate school papers. In the midst of my search for a creative writing activity, I discovered several gems: my 11th grade essay on The Great Gatsby, as well as Pandora's Box, our high-school literary journal of which I was poetry editor and poetry and photography contributor. I also stumbled upon an old anthropology paper in which I called European colonialists "metaphoric vampires." On the Gatsby essay, I received a perfect score, having compared Gatsby to the persona in "Crush with Eyeliner" by R.E.M. And while the poem I published in PB is rather hectic and scattered, there's a passion and vivacity of language that's impressive. There's also a self-developed photograph (pre-digital age) that's rather provocative and sharp.

These findings resurrect a part of myself that I often look back on with doubt, with contempt, with a definitive superiority. So there's a certain sting when I discover ideas and writing from my former self that seems to ring with a creativity and ingenuity more impassioned than today's. But that sting must be quickly brushed aside and met with joy and gratitude and humility.


I believe that I sway between being too harsh of a critic on myself and too easy of a critic, looking at my accomplishments with a sort of smug pride. I need to practice balance. I should be able to occasionally rejoice at former accomplishments, allowing them to rejuvenate my self-confidence and celebrate my unique perspective and creativity.

These archeological findings, of a sort, remind me of my roots and my passion for words and my talent at a time when I truly need it. When doubt knocks on my door. For doubt has been knocking in the form of looming unemployment and job searches and thoughts regarding career changes, etc. Doubt looms, heavily oppressive.


Maybe it looms so heavily because I got a perfect score on my Great Gatsby essay. Maybe I'm not used to failure, and now, as a 32-year-old woman during a time of a recession and, oddly enough, as a new gardener/homesteader, I must face the possibility of failure. As a person who refuses to sit still, who embraces new challenges, who feels the need to continue to learn and create, failure will happen. I've always shrunk from it. Time to stop shrinking.
Time to brandish my metaphoric sword. Time to settle in, warrior-style.

1 comment:

  1. you’re not alone; i have totally felt/experienced all of what you describe, and i know plenty of other people who are the same. i partly blame parents and the educational system...we teach kids that everyone is special, unique, talented, and everyone is in competition with one another, because this is capitalism, after all. so once we’ve moved away from home and we’re out of that institution where we received constant positive reinforcement in the form of good grades, teacher praise, etc., the real world is a bit shocking, because it’s full of a whole lot of other people who’ve also been told they’re the best, most talented everything.

    i’m still working on reaching a self-critical middle ground where my confidence doesn’t spike and crash...balance is so important, like you said. overall my strategy is to not take myself very seriously, be honestly humble, graciously accept but try not to take compliments or criticisms to heart, and to be understanding toward others who have these issues, because we’re all in the same boat, really. more communalistic, less individualistic. this way maybe i’m less motivated to push myself, but at the same time i’m a lot happier and more at peace. it’s a trade-off, but i think i’m developing the right attitude for this particular time in my life.

    btw, i can’t tell you how lovely it is to see tulip magnolias. those are my all-time favorite trees in the spring; i like them even better than cherry blossoms. i can’t wait for them to start blooming here. thank you for sharing your photos.