Much, perhaps all of my life I have felt a little out of step. An introvert in a family of extraverts. A reader and a watcher. A fringe person in my super-large high school. I’ve had that imposter feeling in my jobs even when I have been more than competent. I’ve even had that feeling in some volunteer activities I’ve taken on. In my first involvement in a chorus (at aged 42!) I kept waiting for someone to send me home – “oh, we didn’t really mean for you to be here.”
I am fairly constantly amazed at myself then since I put myself into these kinds of situations with relative regularity – braving the “what is she doing here” sensation.
This weekend I was a participant in the Ninth Moon Mum celebration at our local Chinese Garden (Lan Su Chinese Garden). This was a juried event and I developed an arrangement/installation around my own inspiration that nature is often hidden from us in the city. The sky is occupied by buildings; the leaf color, if there are any trees, obscured by the fractious attention getters of billboards and advertising. Flowers take a moment to observe and we have little time do so.
So I took structural elements of a city hardscape in the form of metal and glass and juxtaposed nature both subtle and obvious. I have been arranging flowers as part of my event planning business for years but have never owned a flower shop and so didn’t “fit” in with the many floral insiders at this event. It was exhilarating and totally scary. I didn’t win any prizes but just being there was truly a humbling honor. People were friendly but even so my own insecurities kept popping up – “what am I doing here?”
If I didn’t push myself I would probably never leave my house. I would let the self-doubt paralyze. Because it is not really about what other people may say or think it is totally about the stories I tell myself.
I think most of us feel that way at one time or another. The only way through it is through it. I have put myself out this year in at least three very nerve-racking ways. The worst that could happen – that someone dies – did not happen because none of those things involved surgery. The best that can happen – that I’ve learned something new about myself, my comfort zone, my talents – almost always does.
I doubt I will ever get over the “outsider” feeling. But it doesn’t kill me to put on my best outfit and take on the world. And to catch my own internal butterflies to release them outside, where they can fly.