“Life has broken me into a million shards
But like ocean salt on a coastline I am still so
Glorious in my fragmentation”
A Sunday on the Island of Woman by Amanda Gorman.
“One challenge I’m constantly dealing with is that of self-doubt or ‘impostor syndrome’. It’s all too easy to start believing the insecurities the world projects onto you, belittling your potential as a woman, as a person of color, as a young individual, etc. You might inwardly ask yourself “Do I deserve to be here?” or “Is this all just luck?”
“When I was named the Inaugural Youth Poet Laureate of Los Angeles, I really wondered if I was worthy. I kept comparing myself to these recognized slam poets–I’d never done a slam competition before–who seemed far more experienced than me. I was particularly anxious doing spoken word poetry because I was still in speech therapy trying to overcome a speech impediment I’d had all my life. I quivered at the thought of performing, and when I won the title, amidst that shock was the thought: “Did they choose right?”
“As I continued throughout my tenure, I knew at the end of the day being Youth Poet Laureate wasn’t about my own personal doubts, but about what I could contribute to my community as a literary advocate. I put my struggling ego out of the picture and focused solely on what I could do in that moment to help elevate the literary scene in my diverse, beautiful community. I started One Pen One Page, a community project that promotes youth leadership and literacy development, spoke to youth around my city and the nation, and held an online workshop program with schoolgirls in Afghanistan. I took a breath and understood that I had been chosen to be laureate for a reason and should believe in my skills with poetry, community leadership, activism,and public speaking. When you’ve worked long and hard at something, don’t give people the privilege of belittling you. The only person you’re in competition with is your past self, and the person you are now is here and believed in for a reason.
“The best part of overcoming challenges is the ability to use that experience to help inspire and support others. It always makes my day when I speak about my challenges with an auditory processing disorder, and after my performance get to meet a child who is going through the same thing. It’s an out-of-body experience when they tell me I’ve helped inspire them, because in reality it’s the other way around! At one workshop I taught to elementary school students, I had them sign my journal. On bad days I still look back at those pages with their signatures because their names remind me why I do what I do, that in my pushing on I can be part of a larger accomplishment of helping other young writers do the same.”
“Loving girls are more than broken dust
We are celestial
left in a place so dark
so that we might glow”
Celestial by Amanda Gorman
“And just like that I begin to believe again
That maybe I can find someone
Who knows how to love the love
Back into me”
She Prays for Resurrection by Amanda Gorman
“All at once I am my own daughter, mother, grandmother.
I am in a rocking chair, womb, and crib.
I am the rocking chair, womb, and crib.
I am both victim and healing lady of the moon.
If I can’t hold myself together,
Then I’ll just hold myself
For my own sake.”
How I Convince Myself to Love Myself by Amanda Gorman
Please check out Amanda’a amazing performance.
For more on Amanda’s first book of poetry click here.
For more Gutsy Goddesses click here.
We would love to have you join the conversation. Do you have thoughts you would like to share, or questions for Amanda? Do you ever have self doubt, or might you have thoughts on overcoming self doubt? Please comment below. You never know who you might inspire or where it might lead.