And try not to freak out about the good things
I’m going to get an award and it’s freaking me out.
No, writing world, it’s not a National Book Award, but an award in our local community, and it’s very lovely and also very strange because it’s a recognition of me trying. Trying to do good stuff. Trying to get facts out. Trying to make the community a better place. Trying to make sure people have a voice.
It feels weird to be recognized for that when I don’t ever feel like I’m doing a good enough job.
Eleven years ago today, I was doing press via national radio news things for the book, DEAR BULLY, which I co-edited. It was an anthology of true stories by writers about the impact of bullying on their childhoods.
These radio moments on places like NPR were totally outside my comfort zone because I have a Muppet voice and slosh my s’s, and radio is all about voice. Kind of like podcasts.
And it was sort of weird because my piece in DEAR BULLY was about getting mocked about my voice and being told I would never be successful because of my voice, that nobody would take me seriously.
Which is probably a big part of why I am a writer.
Nobody can interrupt you when you write.
Nobody can hear your sloshy s-sounds.
And nobody sees it when your skirt falls down.
But awards? Awards and radio interviews or even goofy podcasts like our one tonight mean that for a tiny brief moment people can see you.
And it’s cool. I’m super lucky that I get to be a writer and I wouldn’t change it for anything, but sometimes I wonder what I’d be if I didn’t have this voice. Would I be braver about things like awards? Would I be an actress or a singer instead of a writer? A public speaker? Something else entirely?
Or if I had this same voice, but we lived in a world where difference didn’t easily mean cruelty would my anxiety be a bit less about people noticing me.
Despite what it might seem like on social media or podcasts, I’m a person who actually prefers to sit on floors rather than stand behind podiums, to applaud others and celebrate their awesome. And every time something good happens where I get attention, I kind of look over my shoulder and wait for something bad: some criticism, some complaint, or —…