Everyone deals with fear. I wrote about mine . . . getting lost, failing, the unknown, but the most important part – getting past them. I also wrote about the fears I’ve survived, like aging and ahlzheimers, diabetes and death. Plus, how I did it.
If you’d like to read that post, click on this link:
Quote #1 – Stop making excuses; you’re the only one stopping you.
Who said it? Issa Rae
My guess – Issa Rae learned to stop making excuses as a child. She went through so many changes, so many moves. She had to adjust. Issa was born in LA, lived in Dakar, Senegal, before moving to Potomac, Maryland. Her family made all those moves before or during elementary school. Every time you move, it’s scary, for grown-ups too.
After 6th grade her family moved to LA again. Another new neighborhood, and another new school. No room for excuses. When your family moves, you do too.
In high school Issa went to one that specialized in science and medicine. It’s also where she got involved in acting, and her parents divorced. Issa didn’t make excuses. She looked for opportunities and found them in the theatre.
Issa Rae went on to study and graduate from Stanford University in 2007. That’s where she created Awkward Black Girl. Issa continued to work and study until the play took off in 2011, but she didn’t stop there. She took those ideas and turned them into a New York Times best seller in 2015. No excuses, but lots of hard work!
Issa was already working on other things too. In 2013 she started writing a pilot for a comedy series. It became Insecure, and it debuted in 2016. The final episode aired on December 26, 2021, but Issa had finished the next project. It netted her a five-year film and television deal with Warner Media.
Magic didn’t make Issa’s ideas come to life. Hard work did – no excuses, procrastination, or doubt. Issa looked at her goals and worked until she found a way to make them happen.
Quote #2 – The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.
Who said it? Sylvia Plath
Sylvia was a talented poet, born in 1932. She kept daily diaries and journals as a child. Kids don’t do that on their own, unless they love writing. Sylvia’s first poem was published in The Boston Herald Children’s Section. She was only eight. It sounds like she had a wonderful childhood, with only a little self-doubt, and lots of creativity.
College was good until her third year, 1953. That’s when she won a job at Mademoiselle Magazine. That meant she got to spend a month in New York City. It’s funny sometimes how wonderful can turn into awful. It also started a cycle of depression and hurting herself that she’d battle for the next ten years. Sylvia died in 1963.
Sylvia experienced success, when she pushed away self-doubt. She married and had two children. She was the author of four books. Two of them she lived to see – The Colossus and Other Poems (1960) and The Bell Jar (1963). Would you believe her most famous work, The Bell Jar, had its roots in that awful summer of 1953? I’m glad Sylvia took the lessons she learned and channeled them into a book. I read it in high school. Now I understand why it was so gloomy.
Sylvia also had two pieces published after her death – Ariel (1965) and The Collected Poems (1981). That collection won her a Pulitzer Prize in Poetry in 1982, 19 years after her death. I wish she had known. I also wish the things we know about depression and suicide now, were available for Sylvia and her family back then.
This story about Sylvia makes me happy. At Smith College she wrote in her journal about being conflicted about a decision – whether to stay at college for a summer writing class, or to take it off. She decided to go home. She believed you could write about anything in life, if you had the guts to do it. She decided she could skip the class, and her creativity would be just fine. My wish – that she could have hugged that lesson tight during the awful times. That she could have recognized her own self-worth and lived to tell, with more stories for us, and for her two children.
My wish for you – that when you’re feeling self-doubt, that you talk to someone. That you ask them for reasons to believe in yourself. It’s what I do when I doubt myself, and my writing. Here’s to fighting doubts – for you and for me.
Quote #3 – Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.
Who said it? Marie Curie or Madame Curie
Marie lived a fearless life. She pushed it aside to search for knowledge and understanding. Her hunt led her away from home in Poland. She moved to France to live with her big sister. She wanted to study and experiment with science. That was 1891, and Marie was 24.
Marie married Pierre Curie in 1895. They both loved science, and together they researched radioactivity, Marie’s word for the material they experimented on. In 1903 their work earned them the Nobel Prize in Physics. They were the first married couple to win the award, and Marie the first woman.
Pierre died in 1906, but Marie continued her drive to learn more, and to share that knowledge. In 1906 she became the first female professor at the University of Paris. She was fearless in her pursuit of science.
Marie continued to work on isolating radioactive isotopes. She discovered two new elements – polonium and radium. That earned her the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, her second. Eventually she’d earn five.
Marie uncovered medical applications for radioactivity. She developed mobile X-ray units to help soldiers survive the First World War, from 1914 – 1918, but Marie didn’t stop there. She founded two institutes devoted to medical research. One in Paris in 1920, and another in Warsaw, Poland in 1932.
Marie’s work with radium shortened her life, but it gave us so much . . . like X-rays and cancer radiation treatments. Her words about fear and understanding came after learning she had leukemia. She pushed fear away during those final days and concentrated on learning and understanding. Marie died in 1934.
When I write, I can only have one voice in my head, mine. A little noise is fine. But too much, or worse yet, WORDS, and I must change rooms or pull out headphones. Then I can write on!