We can all use a pep talk

Poet Maggie Smith posted a piece called “Pep Talk: On Not Stopping” on her Instagram account. In it, she talks about her most meaningful speaking engagement of the past year. Rather than being a part of her book tour (“You Could Make This Place Beautiful), the talk was for her son’s fifth grade class. 

The teacher asked her to talk about word play and word choice to the students. All went as planned until the Q&A. The questions were fairly typical: Where do you get your ideas; when did you start writing poems, etc. But, the one question that changed the tone of her entire presentation was, “Did anyone ever try to stop you?”  

“If anyone has tried to stop me, it’s been that little voice in my head that says I’m not good enough, or no one will care what I have to say, or my idea isn’t very interesting. And my job is to turn down the volume of that little voice – the ‘inner critic’ we sometimes call it – and believe in myself and keep going. And I hope you do that, too.”

About a week later, her son brought home an envelope full of thank you cards from his classmates. More than a few began with thanks for telling them not to listen to their own negative voices. It was a remarkable bit of wisdom to impart to a class of fifth graders, and it’s also a valuable lesson for the rest of us. 

Did anyone ever try to stop you from doing what you wanted to do? If the answer is yes and that you were the one responsible, I can assure you that you have plenty of company. There are a lot of us who are or have been in the same position. 

It can feel nearly impossible to quiet that internal voice, doing battle with our psyche, but it doesn’t have to be. The library has a collection of books to help with the subject, including titles like, “Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be” by Rachel Hollis; “Rising Strong” by Brene Brown; “Already Enough” by Lisa Olivera. In addition to the books on our shelves, the library is filled with people who are rooting for you.

Photo by Jacob Sedlacek on Unsplash

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