Wrapped in Words

A year of good books, good food, good people. My highest aspirations for 2019. And here’s a compilation of my reading for the year for posterity and inspiration. There’s no goal or quota this year; no rules but to read and read and read, and let all the words do their magic.

  1. Secret Life of Bees, Sue Monk Kidd
  2. Tin Man, Sarah Winman
  3. We Were Eight Years In Power, Ta-Nehisi Coates

Photo: Brandi Redd

The Imposter in Us All

There’s no question in my mind. Every creative experiences it: that tug of anxiety, the dropping of the heart, the pesky itch of insecurity. We’re all imposters in our heart of hearts, because, honestly – who else gets to create all day long and call it a job? There’s something so wonderfully absurd about the idea of a creative job that many of us gape to think of our luck and shudder in case we are found out.

Perhaps imposter syndrome resonates even more strongly with me than some. My path into creative direction is circuitous at best – self trained and (overly) educated at once. Lots of experience, lots of competition. I never thought I’d be living this life of tech and design and content and inspiration. It was a wild dream. 

So what happens when we begin to set foot in our dreams, start to wander among the clouds of ambition? For the strong among us, we forge on relentlessly. We ask questions and we do. We iterate, break down, get better. But that tremulous questioning voice – that won’t ever really fade. And it shouldn’t. I argue that imposter syndrome is good for us. It causes doubt and then we conquer that doubt, over and over again, like an old enemy. We can stand the challenge of a niggling voice. 

Small business owners know this feeling too well – how can we possibly stand our products up to the sprawl of hundreds of other products, hundreds of other creators whose passion rivals our own? There’s only room for so many people on the success boat, you may tell yourself. Maybe that’s true. So we build new boats, we throw doubt overboard. The imposter in us all teaches us to swim harder, tread more fiercely. We compete only against ourselves. 

A close, a beginning

It’s another quiet night in Ohio. Apple cake slowly warming the house with its cinnamony smell, the kind that seeps into your memory like melting sugar. A twinkle of light in the periphery from shadowed neighboring houses. The humming heater blowing back season-inappropriate linen curtains. 

Each year I choose a word to help guide and exemplify my year. 2018’s was health – mental, personal, professional health. In this past year, I tried to put my wellbeing at the top of the priority list – or as reasonably close as I can with a toddler summoning me most hours of the day. And now, I’ve got a handle on some of it; or more of a handle than I had before. I’ve cut things from my life that were unhealthy, with the notable exception of fried potatoes, and have taken up practices that promote health. Vitamins. So many vitamins. Phone calls with friends, frank conversations with my partner, cuddles with my daughter.

Health can mean so many different things. To me, it means having a will and energy to move forward. Being scrappy, if not always optimistic, in the face of life’s many setbacks. So Hello Light Creative, this scary exciting big adventure of mine: another step towards health. A scrappy, energetic future in the making. 

The word for 2019? Joy. The thing that comes after health. The reward for a year of transition and risk. Now we go forward. Now we do.