“We are the luckiest people in the world to live in Brooklyn,” a friend said to me the other day over coffee. “Brooklyn is the coolest place on the planet right now. When we’re older, we’ll be able to tell our kids, ‘We lived in Brooklyn when it was just becoming Brooklyn.’ Think about that.” I’ve thought about it, and it’s true. Brooklyn is a wonderful place to be young and creative. Everyone (well, maybe not everyone, but it seems that way) is an artist, a writer, a musician, a designer. The place bristles with energy. Imagination. New ideas.
It’s exhilarating, for sure. But sometimes it can be downright intimidating. Everyone seems so cool, confident, and creative, it’s easy to feel discouraged about my own burgeoning career as a writer. It’s easy to feel small.
Do I stand out? Is my work good enough? Is my writing terrible? Is it lame? Worse, is it boring?
I’ve found myself sucked into this anxiety-ridden spiral on more occasions than I’d like to admit. And while I think a little self-doubt can be healthy, I’ve found that more often than not, dwelling on insecurity has been a waste of time. So when the questions feel crushing, I try to keep three things in mind:
I’m still learning. I forget this all the time. I’m young. I’m new to this (though I’ve always loved to write, I only decided to pursue writing professionally a year-and-a-half ago). Creatively, not everything I produce is going to be up to my standards. But that’s okay---it’s practice. (Ira Glass had it right when he said this.)
Feeling small can be a good thing. Sometimes I read something that’s so incredibly, heartbreakingly good that I feel like I might as well abandon my career. What’s the point of going on, asks drama-queen me, when there are so many brilliant writers in the world? This is where slightly-more-rational me steps in: it’s wonderful that the world is full of amazing writers. It’s inspiring. It’s a push.
My time will come. It may not happen tomorrow; it may not happen for weeks, months, or years. But I know that someday, I’m bound to reach a place that feels more secure than this. I know my creative confidence will build with time. I know that as a writer, I’ll find my voice.
Of course, I’d love to get there sooner rather than later. But for now, I'm doing my best to be patient. I'm keeping calm and carrying on, if you will. "Someday" will come soon enough, I figure---it's only a matter of time.