Juxtaposition

I love teaching. There’s something magical about helping writers create their stories, about helping them take their craft to new levels. I treasure the moments when they say something clicked or moved forward in their story thanks to that day’s session.

I do find it incredible as well, how many of them suffer from deep imposter syndrome, as ingrained as a rotten toenail.

As do I. Yes, I can speak for two hours about conflict and pacing. I can talk about character conflation and depth, about structure and goals. I can sound confident and certain.

And inside I’m turning into a pool of sludgey, sweaty, mush.

I’m doubting EVERYTHING. Am I speaking too loud? Too slow? Am I using too many umms? Am I just confusing them and making things worse? Would I be better off teaching stick figure drawing on sidewalks in the rain?

And thanks to virtual learning I get to see myself on camera, too. And oh, the fresh hell of doing that every day, to remind me how ugly, how fat, how appallingly like a misshapen abandoned pumpkin I appear. It feeds the tar in my soul that reminds me how unworthy I am to talk to others, to be seen by others. How bile-creating it must be to have to look at me and listen to my awkward accent and pitchy voice as I bumblingly search for the simplest of words.

How I loathe my utterly worthless self at the end of each day.

And yet, I’ll wake tomorrow and begin again. I’ll pour my bloated, zitty hippopotamus self into jeans, make coffee, welcome everyone, and launch into the day’s session on another element of craft. I’ll be impressed by their words and the challenges they overcome. I’ll want to hear what they come up with next. I’ll empty what knowledge I have to share onto the virtual table and hope they find something in the pile useful.

This is the juxtaposition I’m thinking of tonight as I lay emptied and exhausted in the lukewarm bath. I will gladly share whatever I can, even while thinking I have nothing of value to give.

If I’m not mistaken, that is rather the essence of impostor syndrome. What fun.

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