Dear Lanky One: Let me show you the stairs…
(I wrote the following in response to a prompt about describing your inner critic, from Bonni Goldberg’s book, Room To Write.)
I would like to say that my inner critic is a hellhound with five heads, full of bile and venom, but I am not so sure. I think, instead, she’s a better version of me. She’s taller, more lanky; I’m not lanky at all, I have no lank. But I wish I did. In this way, she taunts me. She’s nearly perfect; I’m sure there’s something about her that isn’t, and certainly she would be able to spot the flaw. She’s good at spotting flaws. But she’s the Barbie-me, she’s the one with the glamorous life, she’s the one I was supposed to want to be, and still do, because of all the lies we’re fed about how we are not enough. (This soapbox, did she build it?) I think I can see her off in the corner, she’s smirking, she looks much more LA than I do (whatever that means!). Stick with it, stay, look at her. In a self-defense class I took in Seattle, the teacher talked about maximizing resources: If you are walking down the street at night and hear footsteps behind you, don’t simply speed up. Instead, turn around and look at who it is, see the person, make sure the person sees you seeing them, knowledge is a resource, “Who’s following me?” It’s good to know these things. That self-defense class was put on by an organization called Alternatives To Fear. A great organization. I still recall so much of what I learned there, but I haven’t been practicing my kicks and punches, I haven’t used my body that way in a long time. In class, we were encouraged to keep practicing even after the class was finished, so we wouldn’t get rusty. I am rusty at kicking ass. I am rusty at kicking the ass of inner critics. I don’t know if I could take her, that lanky critic. She probably took the same class, but was better at it.
What does she look like, my critic? She has no ink stains on her hands, she never needs to fill a pen. What she does is cleaner, and she needs no tools. When I get out my pen and start writing, I kick her penless ass with my rusty self-defense, my alternatives to fear. I maximize my resources. I do the work.
I feel ten feet tall, and sometimes I am.