Yesterday, Diane Rehm interviewed Linda Ronstadt. The day before, both women had been at the White House receiving awards from President Obama–Diane (I can pretend to be on a first-name basis, right?) received the National Humanities Medal, and Linda received the National Medal of Arts. At the very beginning of the interview, the two had this exchange:
Huh. Linda Ronstadt, who has won 11 Grammy awards, sold over 100 million albums, and was recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (among many, many other accolades), thinks she can’t sing, thinks she has never been able to sing, and is just looking for proof that she’s right.
Sound familiar to anyone else besides me?
This shit is for real, y’all. If Linda Ronstadt thinks she can’t sing and has never been able to sing, despite all the evidence to the contrary, what hope is there for the rest of us? What hope is there for me?
All my life, in every single endeavor I’ve ever undertaken, I’ve been waiting for someone to discover that I am not as good as they think I am, that I am not as smart as they think I am, that I’m not as committed as they think I am, that I’m not as tough as they think I am, that I don’t work as hard as they think I do (pretty sure that one is always true, though), that I am not as [fill in whatever adjective you like here] as they think I am. I could make a long and sad list of all the different examples of this over the course of my life, but at this point, only one matters. Because at this point, what I really want to do is write. What I really want to be good at is writing. And while I have limited evidence thus far, the evidence that is already in says that might be possible.
But what do I say?
“I’m really not very good.”
“Well, yes, I wrote a book, but I didn’t really write a book. I just rearranged and rewrote a bunch of stuff that I’d already written before. And no one is going to want to publish it. Or read it.”
“I can’t write well about anything other than grief. And I can’t really even do that anymore. I could only write well about it when I was in the white hot center of it and had absolutely no choice but to write it all down trying to put out the flames.”
I could go on, but you get the drift.
So what hope is there for me? For all of us plagued by this nasty beast?
Linda Ronstadt thinks she can’t sing. That she’s never been able to sing.
But here’s the thing. She doesn’t let it stop her.
She sings anyway. And she keeps on singing. And OK, she still thinks she can’t sing, but you know what? She’s got a damn National Medal of Arts in her pocket, 11 Grammy awards, and 100 million albums sold. When it comes down to it, she tells the impostor monster to go fuck itself.
So here I am. Telling the impostor monster to fuck off.
Write. Write? WRITE.