Not Good Enough For Poetry
By Chloe Jad
Photo by Pinterest.com
Sometimes you’re hit with the massive feeling of not being enough.
We’ve all been there. That aching, writhing, all-consuming pit in your stomach saying “You simply aren’t good enough.”
However, seldom does this whisper - or scream - actually come from another person. Usually, it is a facet of yourself shielding you from taking a risk, taking that glorious step into the realm of trying. This dark mass, with tendrils and ropes and claws, is the fear of failure.
Other than the usual inadequacy brought on by the daily social onslaught of the perceived perfection from our Instagram or TikTok feeds, this fear of failure - those suffocating tentacles of inadequacy - finds a powerful mouthpiece in our everyday hobbies and aspirations.
The other week, I went to support a friend of mine at a poetry open mic night at BU; I sat among a chattering cluster of the rest of our friend group, all charged with anxious anticipation for our lovely friend to succeed.
And, to no surprise, she proceeded to absolutely crush it. Then, one after another, poets approached the mic and absolutely shattered my understanding of poetry, moved me to every emotion under the sun — and, suddenly, I began to hear a voice. That voice.
“You could never do this. What makes you think you could ever do this?”
Our friend was a poet. We all knew this very well, whether it be from the various poems she gifted to our friends or simply from the way she carried herself. She was a poetic entity. She flowed and ebbed, overflowing with passion and well-spoken words; she was like a moving poem — she was good enough for poetry.
I sat there, listening to this malicious, incessant voice, adamantly reminding me that I did not have the grace, or the anguish, or the voice, or the mind, or the heart, or, frankly, the love life, to be a poet. I wasn’t worthy of writing a poem. What story did I have to tell? What right did I have to speak, expect others to listen, and then dare anticipate admiration and understanding from their listening?
No. Poetry was an inaccessible treasure, a commodity up for trade only for the few who possessed it within their veins, who’s very essence spoke in verse. Poetry was a locked-away best-kept secret, a foreign language that could not be breached, except only by those very gifted few.
I wasn’t good enough for poetry.
That is, until a different ache deep within me began to murmur, one that combated the ink-black tendrils of self-doubt and longed to be released. What if I had a story to tell? What if these people would listen? Why couldn’t I just try and see what they think?
And, it seemed as though my other friends in the audience had come to the same conclusion, having identified the same desire to be validated, to try at something. Friend after friend signed up, until suddenly my feet carried me to the table, my hands picked up the pen, and my fingers scribbled my name down on the list.
It was exhilarating. I spoke. They listened. I pulled up the only poem I’d ever written and decided to test it against the room. The room spoke back in snaps and hums and nods. I didn’t seem to swim past the words, detached and rushed, as I usually do when I speak. Instead, I allowed myself to tread in the water, to measure my words, and to provide them with flavored inflection.
I became a poet. I didn’t even know I had it in me.
Suddenly, then and there, I realized the utter splendor that awaited within every inexperienced experience, the exhilaration hiding in every first, and the electric power in every try. This particular moment in time cemented itself in my mind as a core memory; isn’t it always those times you pushed yourself outside the boundaries of your comfort zone that seem to stick?
Not one poet that night crashed and burned. This was simply because everyone and thing is worthy and capable of becoming poetry. There is no one cadence, rhythm, topic, format, or story — it is free.
You are a poet. I am a poet.
Go out and venture to combat the restraints of self-doubt and inadequacy. Go out and try and fail and relentlessly seek success. Go out and manifest your poetry, become a poet, and try every new experience.
You are good enough for poetry.