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Do It Scared

When I was little, I was the girl in the park with her nose stuck in a book. I carried them with me everywhere and found every occasion I could to break the binding and get lost for a while between the ink and vanilla-scented pages. It always struck me as a kind of magic, the way writers could manipulate 26 little letters in such a way that it was like a movie playing out in my head. I could see the setting as vividly as if I was standing there, the characters as real as if they were standing before me. I would laugh and cry and sit on the edge of my seat all because of a writer and the way she wielded 26 little letters like a paintbrush.


That love of reading turned into a love of writing, and somewhere along the way, I went from being the girl lost in a book to the woman writing them.


It was a beautiful, but weird transition for me going from reader to writer. I had a hard time at first truly owning it and calling myself a writer, an author. A hard time feeling like I had the knowledge and skillsets to make it. I didn’t feel like I had the authority to write a novel (joke’s on me, I’m writing a series a now) or that anyone would want to hear what I had to say. I know now that this thought process and the feelings that go along with it is called Imposter Syndrome and that every artist struggles with it to varying degrees.


I don’t think that feeling of ‘not enough’ every truly goes away. I think it blinks bright red in the spot you least expect it like that old arcade game Spider Stomp I used to play as a kid. You stomp it down, only to have it pop back up again in another area. But what I think makes us artists, what makes us human, is our ability to create and persist despite it all. We pursue our dreams, we burn bright, and we do it scared. Being an artist is hard. You pour your heart and soul into a novel, a painting, a dance, a play and send it out into the world knowing it could flop or people could hate what you have to say. But what I’ve learned in my own journey as an artist is that humans are resilient in a way they don’t fully understand until they create.


I tell you all this because I don’t want you to be the girl who didn’t chase her dreams out of fear. Because I was almost that girl with my book and in all honesty, I’m fighting not to be that girl right now in some other areas of my life. It’s hard to be an artist, to be human, because failure is always a possibility. But I would rather be the girl who gave it her all and failed than the one who never even tried.


So go for it. Gather up all those poems you’ve written and publish a book. Take those ballet slippers out of the closet and lace them up. Crack open that science book and take the GRE.


Because your art matters.


So do it scared.

Copyright © 2020 Emily VanderBent. All rights reserved.

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