Gutsy Goddess—Amanda

My eyes filled with tears when I watched Amanda perform her amazing poem: "Neighborhood Anthem." I'm honored to have our National Youth Poet Laureate as a Gutsy Goddess.

“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.

9 Comments

  1. Powerful voice! Amazing!

  2. I resonate so much with the feeling of “imposter syndrome” that Amanda describes. Her courage and strength is amazing, and it’s wonderful to see someone so talented also be so authentic and vulnerable.

    • Thanks for your brave words Katie and welcome to our community. Sharing our fears and our stories can help us to feel and be less alone, and helps others. I like the quote: ” Whenever you find yourself doubting on how far you can go, remember how far you have come.” (unknown)

  3. Amazing and powerful words.

  4. I recently had a small taste of that strange “I’m not worthy” phenomenon. It made me hyper self-conscious. I fretted over every word, every look, I gave or received. Did they know my secret? Did they know that perhaps I didn’t deserve what I had been given?
    But after puzzling about it for awhile and wondering why I just felt so odd I realized, as Amanda did, that my fear of the spotlight shouldn’t stop me from being a contribution. Doing the things I do best and letting the world react as it may. Sometimes with praise, other times with censure, the way others are cannot really impact me–the core of me. And that’s an important lesson. Without it, we can’t become like Amanda, a tremendous advocate for the things and people that matter to her.
    I love your portraits of inspiring people. They do what they are supposed to do: Raise us up.

    • What a touching comment Angela. Thanks so much for this contribution and your insight. I must admit I’m still impacted by what others say. My confidence has risen after coming out with my story and sailing 12,000 nautical miles to French Polynesia (my lifelong dream). I am still, however self-conscious, and fret over words, photos, posts… I love your focus, and Amanda’s, being about the contribution. It’s a great reminder of why we’re doing this. Heartfelt thanks too for the note that these portraits “raise us up.”. The sign I carried at the 2017 Women’s March read—Rise Up With Love.

  5. I love your beautiful and powerful words. They speak to my heart.

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