How Eleanor Roosevelt saved me from embarrassment

Eleanor Roosevelt Quote 1

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Well, when you’ve been posting every couple of days in the first flush of blog-love, a four day delay counts as a while. Sometimes life gets in the way. Real life, that is. As opposed to blog life.

And also this:

In the wee hours of Saturday morning, I awoke to a wave of embarrassment washing over me. Actually, it didn’t so much wash over me as dump me. Hard. As anyone who has ever been dumped by an ocean wave knows, it hurts.

Why the embarrassment? This. The blog. I woke up thinking about it and was suddenly overcome by embarrassment. I can’t even tell you why. It was one of those ‘what was I thinking?’ moments that can strike when your confidence defences are down.

I pushed the feeling aside and went back to sleep. But I was bruised and bruises take time to heal. So recent days have held a running commentary in my head:

“Why are you embarrassed?”

“I don’t know. What if I’m making a fool of myself?”

“Does it matter? I mean, really, what impact would it have on your life?”

“But it’s so public. Someone out there could be thinking I’m an idiot.”

“Ha! Like that would be a first!”

“Well, that’s a bit mean.”

“It’s true, though. It’s not like it’s the first time you’ve done something stupid, is it?”

“Say something nice.”

“Get a grip and I might.”

“Sigh. You’re right. I’m being ridiculous.”

“Yes, you are. It’s your blog, do what makes you happy and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks.”

“Okay. Yes. You’re absolutely right.”

“Of course I’m right. I’m you.”

And then I discovered Eleanor Roosevelt and her wisdom. (Well, obviously, I’d heard of her, I knew who she was, but I didn’t know much about her.) I haven’t read about her in depth, so I make no judgement on her personal history but from the numerous quotes I’ve found, she was certainly a wise lady.

Someone shared the quote at the beginning of this post just as I was struggling with my self-doubt (I know, I do that a lot) and it helped me push on in my exploration of boundaries unknown. Only through doing what we think we can’t do can there be real growth. It’s worth also noting the following quote from Pablo Picasso: “I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.”

On researching other quotes from Eleanor Roosevelt, I discovered more wise words which I’d also like to share.

Eleanor Roosevelt Quote 2

How apt in light of my early hours tsunami of humiliation.

Eleanor Roosevelt Quote 3

This I fully intend to do. I’ve often described myself as having a short attention span, as I do have a tendency to want to know what comes next and to try new things. I like Eleanor’s reasoning. I intend to live life to the utmost and fill it with new and exciting experiences whenever possible. And not to feel embarrassed about it, because…

Eleanor Roosevelt Quote 4

Thank you, Eleanor Roosevelt.



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Of course I just want to write, but…

“Real writers don’t write to get published. They write just to write.” – Jeff Goins


I was sure I’d heard someone like Neil Gaiman say something similar – that a lot of people don’t want to be writers, they just want to be published – but I couldn’t find the reference. Jeff Goin’s quote will do.

I’d like to think I’m a real writer – nothing gives me greater pleasure – but Jeff, I’d sure love to be published. However, it’s not about fame or fortune; it’s about external validation.

It’s all very well having friends and family tell you how wonderful you are, to tell you how much they enjoy your emails from abroad and that you should write a book about it. They’re supposed to say that – that’s why they’re friends.

I don’t know many creative people who don’t have at least some measure of self-doubt. Some of us have Inner Critics with very loud voices. So even if a horde of people you know tell you how fantastic your new book/ song/ artwork is, the Inner Critic will invariably chime in with “Well, of course they would say that. They’re trying to be nice.”

Even when I’ve asked, pleaded, for honest feedback and that feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, the self-confidence it invokes tends to dissipate after about a week and you wonder if they were just saying that to be encouraging.

“The worst enemy to creativity is self doubt.” – Sylvia Plath

Sylvia obviously knew what she was talking about.

Publication of your work means someone who doesn’t know you, who has no vested interest in maintaining your happiness, thinks your work is worthy. This is what will finally allow you to tell the Inner Critic, “I told you so.” (And, in my case, “So shut up and go away!”)

Whether it’s publication of a novel, an offer to exhibit by a local gallery, or a recording contract, recognition of one’s work by The Stranger is surely the secretly held dream of all creatives.

And one last word from art critic Robert Hughes:

“The greater the artist, the greater the doubt. Perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize.”  – Robert Hughes

On this basis, I should have publishers banging down my door any day now…



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