Years ago, one of my college instructors returned a final essay with a bold, fat, red F at the top of the page and one word, “Plagiarism.” I was shocked! I knew that all of my work was mine and confronted my professor, demanding to know exactly what part was plagiarized. She cooly responded, “I know you didn’t write that; nobody writes that way.”
It has taken years for the weight of that to sink in. Her specialty was English Lit. If any of my professors would know writing, it would be her. Rather than seeing the real meaning of her comment, I focused on the insult of her assumption that I would cheat. For many years, my analysis went no farther than indignant fury.
Looking back, I can see what her assumption implied. Yes, she’s a twat
for not even bothering to look for a source I might have plagiarized, but the acknowledgment has far more value than her petty way of delivering it could diminish. “Nobody writes that way.” In saying that, I finally understand that she recognized me as a rare writer, the kind that only comes through a classroom once or twice in a professor’s tenure. So rare, in fact, that she didn’t see it until I challenged her.
I wish I had seen it that way then. I would have given myself permission to write much sooner. I would have doubted my self-doubt decades ago.
Self-doubt is so much more powerful than any other form of doubt. It is the internal acid of the mind, eating away at our own possibilities, gnawing the foundations of our brightest potentials.
When someone else doubts me and I know that I am on the right path, I may laugh at their opinions. Their judgments often serve as fuel to energize me to higher levels of accomplishment. However, when I am already doubting myself, their doubt crashes like tidal waves against my already-fragile underpinnings.
Self-doubt, just like in that college classroom, has the power to turn us away from our greatest giftings. One of my self-doubt beliefs was that ‘if I can do it, so can anyone else.’ I believed it so strongly that I did not realize the importance of the words my instructor uttered that day.
Imagine what would have happened if I had confidence in myself as a writer. Rather than being put off by her words, my reply, “Apparently, I do!” would have been measurably less angry rebellion and much more infused with pride. I might have questioned her about potential markets for my writing. I am certain that I would have explored more writing classes and opportunities.
That is the power of self-doubt and self-knowing.
When I know who I am, no outside influence has the power to sway me from my mission. When I doubt my own essence, every malicious breeze blows me farther from my course…
Until I doubt my self-doubt. What a glorious day! That is the day I harness all those malicious little breezes into one strong, sail-filling wind that propels me, steady and true, enroute to the shores of my greatest destiny.
I have doubted my worth as a writer for years. I know of many great writers who doubted their worth their entire career. The next time someone nails you on one of your self doubts, consider this: your self-doubts are no more valid than mine.
For just a moment, stop to consider that the very thing you have deprived yourself of through doubt, this is the same incomparable gift you are refusing to give to the world. Your worth is far beyond anything you can imagine. I know. You are a reflection of me and I am a reflection of you. I know that you have worth because I know that we all do. We are all breathing the same air and we all are part of the same Divine essence.
I know that you are in there. I know that you can feel me calling you, and your heart wants to answer. I see you. Beyond that, I feel you.
Yes, nobody writes this way. Except me. Nobody does what you do, exactly as you do, except you. Please, release those doubts and do what you do. I’ll be here, part of the breeze that supports you.