My bursting with confidence, six year old self, if she had the chance to meet the 40 year old me that’s plagued with self doubt would say, “You’re a writer. You love words and illustrations, remember?”.
I finally need to own it. Bite the bullet. How I came to this realization? Well, the other day at the dentist, when asked casually – “You’re on leave today?”, I’m embarrassed to say I lied and mumbled in the affirmative. I was tired of saying I am unemployed or in between jobs. There’s always a significant silence when I say that. The Negative Nelly in my head fills in the blanks with “what a loser she must be”, “there must be something wrong with her”. I shifted in my chair nervously, anticipating the next question. I was already nervous, as I don’t like visiting the dentist. So when he pressed on with, “What do you do?”, I instinctively responded with, “I just write”. The self assured six year old that still resides somewhere within me cried out, “Why just? You should have said, I’m a writer.” I guess, just because no one as paying me doesn’t negate that I do have lovely readers.
I have been meaning to sit down to write out my resolutions like I do each year. Even though I hardly keep them, somehow New Year doesn’t feel like New Year without this ritual. I just can’t imagine I let half a month of 2011 go by without doing this. Last night all I could think of was one thing I will commit to in 2011. I will cut out the self doubt and finally work on articles for submission to magazines. I have always intended to, but my lack of confidence has held me back.
Being a Singaporean I have always felt that even though I believe I am a native speaker of English, not many would consider me to be. This may be partly contributing to my hesitation to submit articles to international publications. But you know what? Deep down, I totally feel like a native speaker. It’s the language I think and dream in. It didn’t stop writers like V S Naipaul – an Indian author who grew up in Trinidad, who’s clarity and searing honesty has made me a big fan. In fact, his unique style of English draws me in.
When I studied a second language growing up, I always think in English and then convert to my mother tongue, with disastrous results. Well Tamil is more like my grandmother’s tongue, because neither of my parents speak it well. They studied Malay as a second language and when I was little and we went to Malaysia, I was always impressed that they could speak in this language I did not understand. I only knew simple words like “Satu Ringgit” which means “one dollar”. I probably absorbed the words and meanings, as they were bargaining over durians.
Well I just can’t let down sweet six year old me who was secretly confident even though in my old report cards I constantly got remarks like these: “too soft spoken”, “try to speak up” which annoyed me, as I always felt like I was yelling till my throat hurt, when the teacher asked me to speak up. I think it had to do with the fact that I sat at the very back of the class and was very far from the teacher. I do have a soft, timid voice though, but I guess that’s just me. It quite reflects my personality which can be quite passive. It might be why I can’t survive in the corporate jungle, because maybe that was not what I was meant to do.
I started this blog for morbid reasons. I asked myself, what would I regret if I died tomorrow. For me it would be not getting my stories out there. I told myself, if not in print, as least I can do it in the form of a blog. As long as the internet survives at least to some extent I can leave a part of me behind. I also feel that talking through my experiences makes me feel like I have truly lived.
I have to thank my bloggers colleagues out there who have left kind comments, as well as people I know who have given me feedback that has incredibly boosted my confidence. Each comment slowly notches away at my mountain of self doubt.
I end this post with a thank you from the bottom of my heart – from both the six year old and fourty year old me.